It feels like a while since I’ve done a book tag, and regardless of whether or not that’s completely true, I decided to do one. I found this one over at Classy x Book Reviews (Amanda and Antonia have a fantastic blog, check it out if you haven’t already!), and the tag was originally created by Rachel @ Life of a Female Bibliophile. Sci-fi is my favorite genre, so of course I had to do this tag!
Let’s begin, shall we?
🪐INTERGALACTIC BOOK TAG🪐
SPACE: name a book that is out of this world – that takes place in a world different from our own.
Crownchaserstakes place in an entirely new galaxy—a lot of interesting planets are explored throughout the duology!
BLACK HOLE: Name a book that completely sucked you in.
I know I use this book for every tag, but Aurora Risingsucked me in like no other book has—when I first started reading it, I blew through hundreds of pages without moving, and after I finished it, I ended up re-reading it three times before setting it down for something else. (Why yes, this is my favorite trilogy, why do you ask?)
LIGHTSPEED: Name a book you are anticipating so much that you wish you could travel at lightspeed to get to it.
As disappointing as Persephone Stationwas, I will say that it has one of those beautiful covers that you can’t help but stare at.
MULTIVERSE: Name a companion or spin-off series you love.
The Sound of Starsand The Kindredare companion books set in the same universe, and I loved them both! Very different thematically, but they were both fantastic in their own ways.
GRAVITY: Name your favorite romantic pairing that seems to have a gravitational pull to each other.
Alright, I know I shouldn’t double up, but Kal and Auri from the Aurora Cycle are my all-time favorite book couple. And Kal’s attraction is even called The Pull, so how could I not use it for this prompt?
THE BIG BANG: Name a book that got you started on reading.
As far as sci-fi goes, The Search for WondLawas what got me hooked on sci-fi literature. It’s been a while since I’ve re-read it, but I love to look back through the illustrations; Tony DiTerlizzi is just as talented as an artist as he is a writer.
ASTEROID: Name a short story or novella that you love.
To Be Taught, If Fortunateis a wonderful novella, and the concept is so inventive—what if, instead of transforming planets to our needs, we transformed ourselves?
GALAXY: Name a book with multiple POVs.
Sky Without Starsis told from three POVs (Alouette’s POV is my favorite), and it’s a fascinating sci-fi retelling! I’d highly recommend the whole trilogy.
SPACESHIP: Name a book title that would be a great name for a spaceship.
Iron Widowwould be SUCH a cool name for a spaceship. I’m picturing some sort of sharp-edged battleship for it. Skyhunterwould work too.
I made a post a few months back discussing a handful of sci-fi tropes that I’ve seen in books—here it is, if you’d like to have a look! When I wrote it, I knew I’d be writing several more similar posts; the world of sci-fi literature is so diverse in its content, so there’s no shortage of tropes, however specific, that I can discuss. Some of these tropes are broader and others are fairly minute, but I think they’ll be a lot of fun to discuss.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
SCI-FI TROPES: PART 2
MYSTERIOUS, TELEKINETIC WOMEN
Here’s an interesting one to tackle. I see this one almost exclusively in space operas, but the basic premise is usually as follows: a woman, usually younger than the rest of the main cast, is either gifted with or born with unexplainable and unparalleled telekinesis. This power usually means that she’s the main decider in ✨the fate of the universe✨. These powers of hers often result in mind-bending displays of grandeur, including but not limited to: killing enemies in disturbing ways, crumpling spaceships like soda cans, and bending space and time itself.
Often, these powers come along with an intense emotional burden; at the heart of it, there’s a quintessential “why me?” dilemma with respect to her powers. Inner conflict is all part of the package with godly telekinesis, which often results in this character losing her mind and/or lashing out at other members of the cast. And, well…given that it’s either a “puppet of an all-powerful cosmic entity” or “being devoured from the inside by space energy” situation, it’s understandable.
What sometimes rubs me the wrong way about this trope—although I’m all for cosmic women tearing apart the fabric of the universe (who isn’t?)—is the fact that most of these women have a lack of agency. Which, given that a lot of the characters thatcome to mind are written by men, is more than a little concerning. Even with all of this awe-inspiring power, these women are often portrayed as helpless. Many of their breakdowns about the burden of their power are often reduced to “oh, she’s just a women being overly emotional, typical.”
Which brings me to why I appreciate a particular instance of this trope—Auri from Aurora Rising. She may still be frightened of her own power, but she takes control of the situation—she takes it upon herself to master her powers, break away from the path that the Eshvaren have set for her, and ultimately save the galaxy. She has agency, and, yes, that’s the bare minimum, but she’s written with a significant amount of sway over her abilities as the books go on.
This trope can be poignant and powerful if used right, but if misused, it can lead to a lot of reductive stereotypes.
IF THE ALIENS AREN’T BASICALLY HUMANS, THEY’RE JUST ANTHROPOMORPHIZED ANIMALS
I get it. Creature design is hard—how do you create an alien that’s simultaneously familiar enough for a reader to project onto (if that’s the goal) but also weird enough to pass as “alien?”
In my last post, I talked about the trope of aliens that just looked like humans. That’s the ultimate alien design deal-breaker for me, unless there’s a good explanation for it. But in my opinion, the next level down is just making your aliens intelligent versions of animals with no other changes. Like the human-alien trope, it just feels like lazy design. It’s not that basing your alien design off of a certain animal is bad—on some level, most alien design is just that. The lazy part is just making an upright version of an already existing animal and changing nothing beyond that. (Plus, if it’s mammalian, you’re just…making intergalactic furries? Uh…)
One of the worst examples that I can recall is from The Stars Now Unclaimed, which I DNF’d. Not only was their an alien species that were just upright wolves, the species itself was called a Wulf. I KID YOU NOT. At that point, it’s almost…self-aware of how lazy it is? Or it seems that way, at any rate. But you just…don’t do that. Under any circumstances.
While we’re on the topic of creature design, here’s another trope that I’ve found several times. Lots of alien species in literature—most intended to be menacing, but not all—have been based on spiders, or described as spiders or spider-like.
One aspect of basing an alien design off of an animal is to still try and make it as alien as possible, and one way to do that is to base it off of an animal that many already consider “alien” or “scary.”These are often invertebrates—cephalopods, jellyfish, insects, and arachnids—spiders. By creating a creature with elements that are already unnerving to a lot of people, you’ve achieved the effect of making it alien without making it totally unfamiliar.
But why spiders in particular? Most of the spider-aliens that I’ve seen at the forefront of sci-fi stories are meant to be menacing. I suppose there’s already a latent metaphor of spiders catching unsuspecting prey in their webs, if menacing is the route the author intends to go on. If these characters are meant to be antagonistic, spiders are the perfect combination—not only do they look alien to us, but they’re also a commonly feared animal. They’re also involved in a lot of insidious metaphors, creatures known for ensnaring their prey in webs. I can speak to the “commonly feared” part myself—I’m fine with really small ones (jumping spiders and such—they’re cute), but big spiders? No way. I blame the wolf spider that I found in my room when I was five. (WHY DO THEY RUN SO FAST AAAAAA)
As far as aliens with animal basis, I think spider-aliens are effective. Even if they do fall into the “animals with no changes other than intelligence” trope, at least they’re not completely bipedal and upright—eight legs! But already, they’re so wildly different from us—the perfect starting point for an interesting alien.
Are none of your characters particularly funny? Have they not gotten the chance to banter properly? Are they all on a spaceship? I’ve got a trope for you, then…
This is the exact flip side of one of the tropes I mentioned in my first post—unhinged AI. Often times in space opera books with large cast, there is a character that’s some sort of machine: a droid, a ship’s AI, et cetera. But their main role, apart from providing convenient solutions to hacking-relation problems, is to lighten the mood.
So why machines? I’m not entirely sure myself, but I have a theory. Part of it may be to avoid risk—sometimes it’s too dangerous to have a character whose only personality trait is to be “sassy” or “the funny one,” so putting this personality onto an AI of some kind reduces the possibility of a one-dimensional flesh-and-blood character. AI are often reduced to minimal personality traits, as often, they’re designed for a particular task. Unless they have a short character arc where they have an epiphany of some kind about breaking free of their programming, they’re usually helpful vessels of humor in an otherwise hardened and dry-humored crew.
What’s more about this trope is how often it shows up—pick up any space-opera in the bookstore or the library, and there’s a good 75% chance that there’s a minor Sassy AI™️ character. I hesitate to say that it’s tried and true, but it’s certainly difficult to screw up. The problem is that most of them have the same sense of humor—sass, “oh, you humans are so stupid haha” condescension, and making jokes at inopportune times. (There’s also the inevitable running joke of the flesh-and-blood characters telling said AI character to shut up.) I appreciate good AI comic relief, but it’s become a formula, almost to the point where what I once thought was hilarious now makes me feel almost nothing.
So give your AI something unique—glitches, specific quirks, something, anything that will set it apart from 50% of other machines on the shelf.
Use the tag “Chapters & Melodies Tag” in your post
Let’s begin, shall we?
🎵CHAPTERS & MELODIES TAG🎵
A SONG AND A BOOK THAT SHARE A TITLE
This prompt took a WHILE of digging through my read books on Goodreads, but I’ve found one: Supernova (Marissa Meyer) and “Supernova” by Liz Phair!
A SONG THAT REMINDS YOU OF A BOOK
At the time that I read The Final Six, I was somewhat familiar with Radiohead, but seeing the reference to “Paranoid Android” is what made me dive deeper into their music—OK Computer in particular. OK Computer is one of my favorite albums now, and Radiohead is one of my favorite bands. So, uh…thanks, Alexandra Monir!
A BOOK THAT FEATURES MUSIC IN IT
Ziggy, Stardust and Megets its name from David Bowie, and his music features prominently in the novel, which I loved! (Bowie’s my favorite) There are also a few Pink Floyd references, from what I remember—I think specifically about “Time.”
A SONG THAT REMINDS YOU OF YOUR OTP
Auri and Kal from Aurora Risingare 100% my OTP! They’re the sweetest, most tender pair together, and over the years, both of them—especially Auri—have become such important characters to me. I associate “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” with them for a few reasons—the lyrics (in this version, at least), fit, and the sweeping, space-y atmosphere fits the feel of the book itself. But if there’s one thing, ONE THING that I would give anything to see in the TV adaptation, it’s this song playing in the scene with Auri and Kal in the pollen fields. THAT’S ALL I ASK.
FAVORITE SONG FROM A MOVIE THAT WAS ADAPTED FROM A BOOK
Technically, this song is a) a cover, and b) was only in the trailer, but for me, it’s a fantastic cover! Gives me chills every time, and it has ever since I first saw the Dune trailer last year. Great book, great movie.
Happy Friday, bibliophiles! I’m glad to be out of school for Thanksgiving break…I need some time off.
This book tag has been sitting in my blog sticky note for a while, but I figured it would be the right occasion to do it since I’ve just finished Aurora’s End (🥲). The tag was originally created by Jemma @ Starry Eyed Reader, and I found the tag on her blog as well. The Aurora Cycle is my favorite series, so I just had to do this tag!
Let’s begin, shall we?
💫SQUAD 312 BOOK TAG💫
TYLER JONES—THE ALPHA: Your favorite main character
I’m trying to stray away from using any of the Aurora Cycle books for these prompts, which makes this question…[ahem] difficult…
But for this one, I chose Ellie Baker from The Sound of Stars—she’s rebellious and relatable, and she runs a secret library! Great taste in music, too.
SCARLETT JONES—THE FACE: Which character could talk themselves out of anything?
Jesper from Six of Crows would be able to fast-talk himself out of anything and everything. Would the other Crows approve? Probably not, but that’s not what matters here, right?
ZILA MADRAN—THE BRAIN: A super smart character who would probably kill you
FINIAN DE KARRAN DE SEEL—THE GEARHEAD: Your favorite piece of fictional technology
Does a ship count as a piece of technology? This was a hard one, but the Harbinger—a giant ship that ferries the souls of the dead—from The Soul Keepersis a really cool concept for me. It’s most of the reason that I picked up the book in the first place.
KAL GILWRAETH—THE TANK: A book that made you angry
(my boy Kal deserves a better prompt than this…😔👊)
I DNF’d An Absolutely Remarkable Thingat around the 30% mark; I was already debating whether or not to put it down, but the bisexual rep was HORRIBLY offensive for me, so I jumped ship. Would NOT recommend.
CAT BRANNOCK—THE ACE: A fictional crush you’re still not over
I don’t get book crushes all that often, and my main ones happen to be in Aurora Rising (Kal and Auri are both SO CUTE, I CAN’T HELP IT…now that’s some bi panic for ya), but I’ve always thought Baz Pitch from Carry Onlooked cute on the cover art.
AURORA JIE-LIN O’MALLEY—THE GIRL OUT OF TIME: If you had to pick just one book or series to read for the rest of your life what would it be?
Okay, I’m breaking my self-imposed “I’m not using the book that inspired this tag as answers for this tag” rule, because the Aurora Cycle is the only series that fits this bill. I always come back to the books; in the past two years, they’ve become so uniquely dear to my heart, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them in it.
+ any other Aurora Cycle fans who want to participate! If you see this tag and want to do it, I’d love to see your answers! And if I tagged you and you don’t want to do the tag/have already done it, no worries.
That’s it for this book tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves! And of course, Squad 312 forever.
Wow. The day has finally come, folks. 1 and a half years of waiting, and now I have answers. My favorite series has come to a close, and yet it doesn’t feel like the end. It’s surreal to think that this may be it—the series that changed the course of my life, finally capping off. But if this really is the end, then Aurora’s End is the best conclusion that I could have ever asked for, and a book that I will no doubt cherish just as fervently as the first two books.
Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! If you haven’t read Aurora Rising or Aurora Burning and intend to, beware of spoilers! If you want to read my previous reviews, look no further:
For all intents and purposes, the Battle of Terra was the end for Squad 312. They failed to stop the Starslayer from harnessing the Eshvaren’s Weapon, and intergalactic war is imminent. Meanwhile, the Ra’Haam slips in through the chaos, threatening to cover the entire universe in its spores.
But by a cosmic twist of fate, Tyler, Auri, Kal, Zila, Scarlett, and Finian are unscathed. They’ve been separated by time, and the only chance they have at thwarting the Ra’Haam is turning history itself inside out. Time is not on their side, though, and it may not be enough to save civilization itself from being wiped out.
TW/CW: graphic violence, mild sexual content, blood, near-death situations, severe allergic reaction, emergency medical procedures, loss of loved ones, death, descriptions of injury, body horror
[WARNING: this review may contain spoilers for Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning!]
I still haven’t come to grips with the fact that this is really the end of the Aurora Cycle. But as someone whose life was permanently altered for the better by this trilogy, I can say with certainty that this is the best end to the series that I could have ever asked for. My heart is so, so, so full of love.
There were so many factors that went into the separate situations that Squad 312 got themselves into, but Kaufman and Kristoff have once again proved that nothing is impossible. Time is distorted, there are future selves to be dealt with, technology and ancient aliens races are as complicated as ever, and of course, Past Pete is here to kill Future Pete. Lucky for us, Kaufman & Kristoff have been rapid-firing Chekhov’s gun, and every detail from the past two books comes full circle. After how mind-boggling the plot and cliffhanger of Aurora Burning were, Aurora’s End brings everything back in superbly clever and surprising ways, making for a trilogy that’s more cohesive than ever before.
And my emotions…MY EMOTIONS! After so long apart, reuniting with Squad 312 felt like reuniting with long-lost friends. Despite this being the last book, the development that many characters got was such a beautiful way to bring them all the way back and display the enormous growth many of them have had over the course of the series. Out of all of them, though, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see Finian and Scarlett’s relationship develop; they’re such an unlikely couple, but the love they have for each other is so consistently tender and heartwarming. Plus, a) NORMALIZE BI PEOPLE IN STRAIGHT PASSING RELATIONSHIPS! STRAIGHT-PASSING RELATIONSHIPS ARE SO VERY VALID!, and b) DISABLED PEOPLE!! IN LOVING RELATIONSHIPS!! WE NEED MORE OF THOSE!! Nothing can top Kalauri, but Fin and Scar come very, very close. I LOVE those two. Power couple. Finian is the once and future disaster bisexual.
Also, Tyler trying to be all “space pirate”-y after an entire lifetime of being Captain America was a train wreck…comedy gold
One aspect of Kaufman and Kristoff’s writing that I haven’t often touched on is how they build tension. Their skill at developing heart-pounding tension is especially evident in Aurora’s End; they did such a masterful job of raising the stakes over the course of these three books, and bringing it all to a nail-biting cataclysm towards the end. The last 100 pages of Aurora’s End had me stressed out to no end, but…in a good way? It made me genuinely worried for everybody involved. Look, I’ve gotten way to attached to my space misfits over the past two years. Let me off the hook this once.
Along with all that, Kaufman and Kristoff once again more than delivered with everything that made the first two books so strong. The universe was expanded upon in surprising ways, the characters were more fleshed out and lovable than ever, the chemistry was impeccable, the action sequences had me clutching the book in a vice grip, and the dialogue hit the perfect balance of levity, tenderness, and solemnity. The found family of Squad 312 is stronger than ever, and my heart is still bursting with love for all of them.
It’s hard to end this review. It isn’t every day that a series changes my life, but the Aurora Cycle truly did. These books taught me so much about moving through this world as an outsider; Auri taught me that I didn’t have to be brave or strong to be a hero, and that people with the fate of the world on their shoulders can have their big feels too. She was the first time I’d really seen a mixed-race hero, and having a character like her means the world to me. I’ve come to see myself in Finian, and he’s taught me that I deserve love just as I am. And Squad 312 has taught me that no matter who you are, there will always be a home for the outsiders. It cemented, more than ever, that even if you think that you are alone in the world, somebody out there loves you, and will give you a home.
All in all, the perfect ending for a series that changed my life for the better. 5 stars for the sake of Goodreads, but realistically, however many stars there are in the known universe.
Squad 312 forever. 💗
Aurora’s End is the final book in the Aurora Cycle, preceded by Aurora Rising (#1) and Aurora Burning (#2). Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have also written the Illuminae Files together; Amie Kaufman is also the author ofthe Starbound trilogy (co-written with Meagan Spooner) and the Elementals series, and Jay Kristoff is also the author of the LIFEL1K3 trilogy and Empire of the Vampire.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I haven’t done a recommendations post/something other than a book tag or a review in a while, so I figured it would be fun to mix things up a little bit.
Yeah, yeah. I get it. This is a very specific post. But these are the kind of books I love, and I know other people love them too, so I thought I would put this out into the world.
The found family trope is easily one of my favorites in media as a whole; usually, it involves a character, often an outsider, who meets a series of strangers, often outsiders as well, on whatever journey they are on, and these strangers become a family to them. Often, these characters have very different personalities, but their differences are what make them stronger. They come to accept each other no matter what, growing closer than they ever could have imagined. As someone who has been more than a little bit of an outsider over the course of my life, the trope has resonated with me a quite lot; I’m glad now to have found friends that love me for being as weird as I am, and I love them for being weird too. And for those of you who are in the place where I used to be, I promise: someday, you’ll find people who love you and celebrate you for who you are.
In my opinion, sci-fi is the most entertaining genre to see the found family trope in action. Sci-fi has a tendency to throw all of the characters into a life-changing adventure, and if the execution is right, their relationships deepen along the way, making for a tight-knit group of what I love to call “chaotic space misfits.”
Now, the books I’m putting on this list aren’t exclusively space-centric sci-fi. I’ve included a few books from other sci-fi branches, but all have similar found family themes. It’s mostly YA, but I have a few Adult and MG books on the list as well.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S FOUND FAMILY SCI-FI RECOMMENDATIONS
Fast-paced and full of heart, Victories Greater Than Death is a perfect fit for longtime sci-fi fans and readers that are new to the genre! The relationships in this novel are so sweet, and I’m excited to see how they develop in the sequel!
Continuing on the dystopian train, here’s an action-packed book from one of of my favorite authors! Amidst all of the horror and desolation in Skyhunter’s ravaged world, the relationships between Talin, Red, and the rest of their ragtag gang of Strikers brings hope to a bleak novel. I read it almost a year ago, and it was just the thing that I needed to get through a rough patch in my life.
Looking back, The Search for WondLa wasn’t just my gateway into sci-fi literature—it was probably my gateway to the found family trope as well. This was my favorite series from late elementary school through middle school, and even when I look back through it, I love it just as much as I did when I was younger. Middle school Madeline would be elated to hear that I still highly recommend it; an intricately crafted piece of sci-fi, filled with an immersive world, unique characters, and beautiful illustrations.
Spaceships are often the perfect vehicle for interstellar bonding (and anything interstellar, really), but have you considered…sentient, intelligent spaceships? What’s more fun than having your own spaceship join the found family?
Honor Among Thieves, with its diverse and chaotic cast of characters and intergalactic intrigue, is sure to both capture your heart and keep you on the edge of your seat!
I said earlier that the found family trope often involves the characters bonding over some life-changing adventure, but it isn’t always—and never has to be—the case. It seems to me that Becky Chambers has pioneered the “soft sci-fi” novel, one that’s set in a future universe filled with aliens and strange politics, but there are no cosmic, fate-of-the-world wars or over-the-top conflict. It’s more slice-of-life, but in space. (Oh, look at me and all my hyphens…) Which I love.
The relationships of the crew of the Wayfarer made my heart so happy, and I bet they’ll make you just as happy too!
The main cast, along with the rest of the crew of the Dossier are the sweetest, messiest found family, whether they’re human, robot, or alien. If you love retellings, lost chosen ones, and plenty of banter, Heart of Iron is the book for you!
Larklight, from my memory, is imaginative, kooky, and perfect if you’re a fan of steampunk. Never a dull moment if there are pirate ships and floating houses in space, right? Plus, all sorts of odd creatures…
Turning back into dystopian sci-fi, LIFEL1K3 is another fantastic example of a novel that finds the smallest bits of hope in the bleakest (and I mean BLEAKEST) of times. This series HURT me, truth be told, but Jay Kristoff is the master of writing friendships that you want to root for with all your heart.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite books with the found family trope? Have any sci-fi recommendations for me? Tell me in the comments!
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I haven’t done a book tag in quite a while, and I figured I’d do one since I’m on fall break! I found this one over at Brianna’s Books and Randomness, and the tag was originally created by The Book Belle on BookTube. I love fall, so this is the perfect tag…
Let’s begin, shall we?
🍁COZY FALL BOOK TAG🍁
What book always reminds you of fall/autumn?
I read The Bone Houseslast fall, and it’s the perfect atmospheric book for this season!
What is your favorite autumnal book cover?
Kingsbane(book 2 in the Empyrium trilogy) has some lovely autumnal colors.
What is your favorite autumnal drink to read with?
I don’t habitually drink while I read, but I can’t say no to drinking some hot cinnamon spice tea while reading.
Do you prefer to read early in the morning or late at night?
…uh, both? It depends on the day, really. My internal clock usually wakes me up at about 7 am on the weekends (much to my dismay), so I sometimes read then, if I don’t fall back asleep first. I like to read before bed as well. Both is good.
Halloween is coming! What’s your favorite spooky read?
I know I talk about Aurora Risingin almost every single tag I do, but this book really does have such a special place in my heart. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, what with book 3 coming out in about a month…
What is your favorite fall reading snack?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reading snack, but believe me when I say that all of my impulse control goes out the window whenever I’m near a bag of candy corns.
What is your favorite autumnal candle to burn whilst reading?
I don’t usually burn a whole lot of candles, but we have a whole bunch of decorative candles from my family’s Halloween decorations that are scattered around the house. They’re pretty cute.
When you’re not reading, what’s your favorite fall activity?
Watching Tim Burton movies, taking pictures of the turning leaves, and curling up with a blanket and whatever TV show I happen to be watching at the moment.
What’s on your fall reading list?
Um? I never really do concrete reading lists, but I just got A Gathering of Shadows from my school library because I LOVED book 1. This will probably be my next read.
For those of you who didn’t know, here in the US, July is Disability Pride Month! I myself didn’t know about it until this year, which is a little embarrassing, but better late than never, I suppose. I hardly see anyone in the bookish community talking about disability rep in books – especially where YA is concerned – so I wanted to make a post of my own with some YA reads with disability rep of all kinds. Unfortunately, not all of them are from disabled authors, but it seems like there’s such a dearth of disability rep in YA as a whole, so for now, I’ll share these ones, and I’ll always be on the hunt for more books by disabled authors in the future. But as with all of my posts like this, AMPLIFY DISABLED VOICES 24/7/365!
And if you’re looking for book bloggers who talk about disability, disability rep, and breaking down ableist tropes, I’d highly recommend checking out Luminosity Library and The Inside Cover. (They’re both amazing!! Show them some support!!)
Kaz Brekker (otherwise known as the “morally gray” teen idol of the YA book fandom) uses a cane for mobility (and it’s a really snazzy cane, too), and his experiences are based off of Leigh Bardugo’s own experience with osteonecrosis.
I just finished this one up a few days ago, and it was INCREDIBLE! I don’t usually jump for rom-com, but this was one of the most tender books I’ve read in a while. Gave me all the warm fuzzies…
The protagonist has rheumatoid arthritis, and the love interest has Gaucher’s disease. And lemme tell you, I GOT SO EXCITED THAT WE HAVE A DISABLED, BISEXUAL LOVE INTEREST. BI DISABLED CHARACTERS?? NO KIDDING, MY BRAIN DID THE “WOOOOOHOO” FROM SONG 2 WHEN I REALIZED IT…
Again, it’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but I LOVE how diverse this one is; we have the dual POVs of an epileptic Latino character with a missing leg and a mute bisexual girl who uses sign language to communicate. It’s an interesting blend of fantasy and sci-fi as well!
Adam, the love interest of this novel, has multiple sclerosis, and both of the protagonists are Muslim; there’s a lot of great conversations about Islamaphobia and other pertinent issues in this one, but it’s also a really sweet romance!
This one’s a romance between a girl with ADHD (the author has ADHD as well!) and an autistic boy, and like Love from A to Z, tackles a lot of discussions surrounding mental health and disability while still being a sweet romance!
GENRES: Science fiction, space opera, LGBTQ+, romance
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
(There is no escape from the Aurora Cycle-posting on this blog…)
Even though Finian’s disability is fictional (bc, y’know, he’s an alien), he uses mobility aids, and we get to see a lot of his inner thoughts surrounding his disability. Disability in realistic fiction is all cool and good, but it’s even better to see casual disability rep in fantasy and sci-fi too!
Queens of Geek features a protagonist with Asperger’s and an anxiety disorder, and there’s lots of queer and POC representation in this one as well! If you love stories set at Comic Cons with lots of pop culture references, then this one’s for you!
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite books with disability rep? Favorite disabled authors? Any recommendations for me?
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, take care of yourselves, and happy disability pride month!
I’ve been trying to think of more original posts to do, and I figured that this one would be something really fun to explore. I’ve seen a lot of posts talking about tropes, but genre-specific ones are always interesting to think about/discuss, and in much of the YA book fandom, I feel like sci-fi doesn’t get as much love. So I decided to look at six tropes that are specific to sci-fi (for the most part). Sci-fi is my favorite genre, so I got super excited thinking about all of these different tropes, and some (mostly) YA books that use them in different ways.
So let’s begin, shall we?
WARNING: This post may contain some book spoilers (Aurora Cycle & Dare Mighty Things series), so read at your own risk!
CRYOSLEEP, BUT FOR WAY TOO LONG
Ellen Ripley – and Aliens in particular – probably set the blueprint for this one, but as the trope gets more popular, authors have started to push the limits on this one, which I think is a really cool move.
It’s most often the protagonist that this happens to – our hero, on the eve of something great, is put into cryosleep for an interplanetary mission, only for something to go terribly awry and stay in cryosleep for longer than they were supposed to. Ripley got an accidental 50 years, Auri from Aurora Risinggot 200 years, and Andra from Goddess in the Machinegot a whopping 1,000 years.
This trope presents two main advantages for writing: a vehicle for exploring the novel’s world through fresh eyes, and internal conflict within the character. If your cryosleep character is completely unfamiliar with the world, seeing it through their eyes gives the reader a more in-depth look at the world than they’d get with a character that’s already familiar with it. They’ll inevitably notice more things and fixate on different things than another character might, which gives the reader more insight about what’s unique about the world that the author has crafted.
As for the internal conflict piece, this part’s always touched on, but in most of the novels I’ve read with it, it’s a lot more shallow than you’d think. There’s the existential crisis that inevitably occurs when the character realizes that everything they know and love is all but gone, but beyond the first few chapters from their POV, they get over it…relatively quickly? It seems like the kind of trauma that would leave lasting psychological scars, and probably physical health repercussions as well. I’ve yet to read any book that explores all that in depth, but it seems like the perfect setup for a sci-fi novel.
So this one’s a trope that can make for a lot of creative choices, but often has a lot of untapped potential.
GOTTEN INTO A SITUATION YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF? TIME TRAVEL!
Apparently this one is a lot more common than I thought, but I’ve only started to see it in YA more recently. (Well, there’s Avengers: Endgame, but it took me a while to realize how common of a trope it is…)
This trope has the possibility of ENDLESS freaky hijinks whilst traversing through time. Sometimes it’s just pushing the events of the past so that everything lines up a little bit nicer, and sometimes it’s rocketing back to another time period entirely. It usually happens only with the last book in a trilogy or duology, just so everyone can fix the mess they got into in the first books.
I have mixed feelings on this one; one the one hand, there’s never a dull moment – time travel jokes, fitting VERY badly into a different time period, and very high stakes, most of all. If the first books have followed a similar formula, it might be good to try for something else to end the series with a bang.
On the other, though, something about it almost feels…lazy to me. Often, this trope arises from The Gang™️ getting a situation so bad that there may not be a feasible way out of it, but…maybe they could? If done wrong, it can feel like lazy writing – an easy way out, and one that provides instant comic relief. And often, the means of said time travel are vague, and often reduced to technobabble from The Smart Character™️, which, hey, I don’t know much about the science of it either, but maybe at least put a little time into it?
So this one’s a double-edged sword: instant plot, or lazy writing? The choice is yours!
*this one doesn’t come out until November [screams] but we know that time travel will play a big part in this one, so…
ALIENS THAT BASICALLY JUST LOOK LIKE HUMANS (BUT WITH A FEW MINOR DIFFERENCES)
Most of the other tropes I’m going to be discussing in this post are ones that I like on some level, but…this one gets on my nerves. For the most part.
Far too many times, I’ve fallen into the trap of picking up a sci-fi book that promises aliens, only to discover that the aliens just look like humans, but with either a) unusual eye colors, b) some sort of powers, or c) a combination of both. And of course, they have to be ✨ridiculously attractive✨ as well. 🙄
Now, I completely get making your aliens humanoid (hey, I’m doing it with some of my aliens for my sci-fi WIP), but there’s a certain point where it feels a bit lazy. Unless there’s some way you can back it up, it seems weird to me that in this entire universe, the only other intelligent beings, by some cosmic chance, are similar to us in almost every way.
But I’ve seen some authors use it to their advantage – in particular, One Giant Leap(the sequel to Dare Mighty Things) does this especially well. The main alien civilization there look exactly like humans, but it’s because of genetic modifications performed so that they could survive on Earth. See? That’s actually a really good way of turning the trope on its head, and doing so in a practical way!
For the most part, this trope never ceases to bug me, but there’s a few ways to turn it on its head.
For me, at least, this trope is the most fun – and it presents some of the scariest and most formidable antagonists in sci-fi.
Villainous AI are some of the most fascinating characters to explore – they have unmatched power, in some cases, and whether they’re a pre-installed ship AI or an android, it’s always interesting to hear their perspective on all of us puny mortals.
Given that humans trust AI a bit *too* much in most sci-fi novels, they often have a fearsome amount of power at their disposal. AI installed inside of a ship? Access to all the security footage, navigation, communications, and controls of the ship. They know their crew up and down, and have the possibility to play everybody’s weaknesses against each other. They have the power to sabotage anything and everything, and more often than not, they do. WITHOUT HESITATION. A corrupt AI often harbors a hatred or jealousy of human beings, and if it’s not that motivating them, it’s some sort of technologically-stemmed god complex, which is always terrifying to watch play out. (Lookin’ right at you, David…) It’s even more of an interesting development if their moral compass shifts over the course of the series – if there’s one thing I’ve learned from sci-fi, it’s that benevolent robot overlords never stay benevolent for very long.
Corrupt AI as antagonists are often more compelling than human or alien ones (for me, at least) partly because so much is left up to the imagination about the inner workings of their minds. We’ve never developed any kind of artificial intelligence that’s become intelligent enough to have devious tendencies like many sci-fi villains, so a lot of it is the author’s personal choice. There are endless possibilities – but more often than not, they’re all terrifying.
And even if they aren’t main antagonists, the addition of a slight unstable AI as a character is always amusing; for all of its flaws, I loved Gregorovich’s existential musings in To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, and his character added some much-needed flavor to the rest of the cast.
TL;DR: There’s nothing more terrifying than a villain that knows everything about everything, and uses that power for its own gain at whatever the cost.
HIGH-STAKES COMPETITIONS TO GO TO SPACE…WITH SOME SERIOUS ULTERIOR MOTIVES
Scared to send your experienced, highly intelligent scientists to space? Send some teenagers instead!
This one tends to crop up the most in YA, as it’s primed for a book that has a primarily teenage cast. The ones I’ve read do tend to follow a formula, but for the most part, it’s one that’s actually a lot of fun!
The worldbuilding/motives behind it are always a little bit messy (again: sending teenagers into space! What could possibly go wrong?), but often times, you just have to hang in there; it’s a given that whatever program is funding the competition is doing something astronomically shady. (No pun intended.) Part of the fun with this trope is the mystery of it; slowly but surely, the competition starts dropping like flies, and things go very wrong very quickly.
More on the mystery aspect – the mystery that often occurs in these types of novels is very slow-burn, building on itself before the heartstopping reveal at the end (often a cliffhanger). From program superiors lying to scheming androids to deaths under mysterious circumstances, there are endless possibilities for many, many things to go wrong. Add in the not-so-friendly rivalries between the competitors (also scheming, along with everybody else), and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a nail-biting sci-fi mystery.
And once/if they get to space? Everything gets way worse. There’s bound to be aliens, but whether they’re intelligent or just parasitic, things are bound to go way, way south. But there’s never a dull moment – there’s no shortage of suspense, and our protagonist is often at a loss as to how to escape their situation.
Plus, for reasons I’ve yet to figure out, these ones always tend to have the most clever pop culture references. (See: all of the Radiohead songs in the Final Six duology)
EXPLORING OTHER PLANETS GOES VERY, VERY WRONG (Or, “Don’t do intergalactic colonialism, kids”)
Here’s another common – but by no means overdone – trope that’s always open to endless possibilities!
Because our planet was never enough, apparently (or if we destroyed it…probably), there’s a whole host of sci-fi stories that are set on entirely new planets, with the sole goal of making them a new home for humankind. But just like with our planet, it’s always unpredictable, whether you’re dealing with a foreign contagion, carnivorous wildlife, or superiors who aren’t what they seem.
I’m always a nerd for creature design in sci-fi, and life on other worlds presents all sort of possibilities for creatures lurking in the bushes. Whether it’s flora or fauna, exploring these sci-fi worlds along with the characters is an adventure, especially if the author is particularly creative. Of course, most of the wildlife ends up being carnivorous, or malicious on some level, so there’s all sorts of danger lurking.
But beyond that, this trope is often a great commentary on colonialism. Human history is rife with frightening periods of raping and pillaging land that wasn’t ours to begin with at the cost of those who originally lived there; telling the same story on alien planets serves as a particularly potent comment on the malicious tendency of our species to overstep and overstay our welcome. Books like A Conspiracy of Starsand The Pioneer explore what happens when humanity comes in contact with intelligent life and unlawfully sets foot on their land; both of them do an amazing job of exploring the intricacies of the political implications, as well as the tense conflict that results. I think sci-fi as a genre is one of the best mediums for raising commentary on this kind of thing. Exploring new frontiers in space is bound to happen once we get the technology, but we must always ask ourselves if it’s the right thing to do. Just because we can doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. (Let’s be real: I would be SO excited if we found evidence of life elsewhere in the universe, but…let’s not have a repeat of all of human history, okay?)
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite/least favorite tropes in sci-fi? Have you read any of the books I listed, and what were your thoughts? This’ll probably be one of several posts on the subject, so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!