Posted in Books

A YA Reader’s Guide to Space Opera 👽

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

Would you look at that…for once, I actually have a post that isn’t a meme, an update, or a book tag…

I’ve been planning for this one a little bit, and I’m excited to get into it! If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know how much I love sci-fi. So for this post, I decided to go semi-in-depth on my favorite subgenre of science fiction and dole out some recommendations of mine.

Let’s begin, shall we?

So first off, what is space opera anyway?

Steam Community :: :: Obi-wan has taught you well.

In all forms of media, space opera is a subgenre of science fiction. It tends to focus less on the heavy science/physics of the universe it’s in, and more on aspects such as plot and characters. There’s often adventures at a breakneck pace, intergalactic war or conflict, strange planets/other locations, and drama between a set of characters. A lot of space opera media that I’ve consumed tends to throw in a ragtag bunch of characters with nothing in common together, and then throws them into an adventure of epic proportions. (Commonly referred to in many of my posts and reviews as “[chaotic] space misfits.”) More often than not, there’s some light elements of fantasy, sometimes as placeholders to explain the workings of the universe. And, as you probably can figure out, it’s usually set in space or on a distant planet.

Star Wars is often used as the quintessential example of a space opera–dogfights in space, romance, strange worlds, and (amazing) lightsaber duels. (What more could you possibly want?) Although it’s probably not *the original* space opera, it’s influenced a huge chunk of space opera/sci-fi media for the last 40-ish years. Guardians of the Galaxy is another widely-known example of space opera, and from= the world of literature, Dune and Foundation are some of the most well-loved space opera classics.

I'm Mary Poppins, y'all! (gif) | Guardians of the galaxy, Marvel cinematic,  Marvel cinematic universe

Sci-fi has only become my favorite book genre in the past…six or seven years; for a while, I was mostly drawn to fantasy, but after reading Tony DiTerlizzi’s Search for WondLa trilogy, there was no going back. And I was raised on a steady diet of Star Wars, so it was bound to happen eventually. There’s a multitude of reasons why I’m drawn to it. Even though fantasy has virtually no limits as far as making up universes goes, there’s just something about about flying through the vast reaches of space and traveling to strange worlds that has always appealed to me. And as someone who’s been something of an outcast for the better part of my life, I’m drawn like a magnet to any kind of found-family tropes. Now, I know full well that it’s not exclusive to space opera, but everything from Star Wars to Aurora Rising has a cast of strange and distinct characters that come to see themselves as a family, and I’ve always loved the theme of finding your tribe of weirdos.

So now, if you say “space opera,” there’s a good chance that I’ll immediately want to read it. (Doesn’t mean I’ll love it–there’s good and bad books in every genre, of course–but I’ll certainly read it.)

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Now, I’ve compiled a list of some YA space opera recommendations! Each one is tailored to different types of readers/tastes, because I firmly believe there’s something for everybody, even if sci-fi isn’t normally your thing. So let’s get to it, shall we?

🪐YA SPACE OPERA RECS🪐

For readers who like character-driven books…

Amazon.com: Heart of Iron (9780062652850): Poston, Ashley: Books

Heart of Iron duology–Ashley Poston

A retelling of the story of Anastasia, this unique duology boasts a diverse and lovable cast of characters, royal intrigue, creepy androids, and some really cool spaceships.

For readers who like fairytale retellings…

Amazon.com: Once & Future (9780316449274): McCarthy, Cori, Capetta, Amy  Rose: Books

Once & Future–A.R. Capetta and Cori McCarthy

A retelling of Arthurian legend where the reincarnation of King Arthur is a pansexual woman of color and a spell gone wrong made Merlin age backwards…into an awkward, voice-cracky teenager. Super diverse, super feminist, and super fun!

For readers who love a good found-family story…

Aurora Rising - (Aurora Cycle) By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Paperback) :  Target

Aurora Cycle–Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

In short, this is what happens when you put Captain America in a spaceship with his sister, his ex, a whole bunch of random students from the bottom of his class, and a girl with a glowing eye that may or may not start an intergalactic war. Hands down, my favorite series of all time.

For readers who love a little romance…

Amazon.com: Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars (1)) (9780316394031): Gray,  Claudia: Books

The Constellation trilogy–Claudia Gray

The worldbuilding and the imagery are beautiful in all three books, but it’s really the unlikely relationship between Noemi and Abel that shines in this one. [🥺 intensifies]

For readers who like plots with high-stakes competitions…

Amazon.com: Crownchasers (9780062845160): Coffindaffer, Rebecca: Books

Crownchasers–Rebecca Coffindaffer

(Would you look at that…another pansexual protagonist!)

I had my expectations a *bit* too high for this one, but it was still a whole lot of fun! A lot of reviewers have pitched it as Aurora Rising meets The Hunger Games, and I’d say that’s pretty spot-on. I’m excited to see what Coffindaffer has up their sleeve for book 2.

For fans of steampunk…

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars–Rosiee Thor

This one has elements of both sci-fi and fantasy woven in–royal intrigue on other worlds, and lots of clockwork hearts! Plus, it’s a beautiful queer story; we have a wlw romance, as well as a beautiful aro-ace coming out scene for one of the main characters.

For readers who prefer standalones to series…

Amazon.com: Last of Her Name (9781338243369): Khoury, Jessica: Books

Last of Her Name–Jessica Khoury

Another space opera retelling of Anastasia, comin’ right up…

Last of Her Name is a truly beautiful novel, with intricate and detailed worldbuilding, tender romance, and no shortage of twists that I couldn’t see coming. I do wish we’d gotten a larger glimpse into this world, but it was still satisfying as one book.

For thriller fans…

Amazon.com: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files) (9780553499117): Amie Kaufman,  Jay Kristoff: Books

The Illuminae Files–Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Normally, I’d try to avoid putting two series from the same author(s) in a post like this, but Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are masters of sci-fi, so I kind of *had to.* Composed of interviews, emails, security footage, and more, this is truly a trilogy like no other.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK? What are your favorite space opera books? Do you have any space opera recs for us? Tell me in the comments!

Baby Yoda Soup Baby Yoda Tea GIF - BabyYodaSoup BabyYodaTea BabyYoda -  Discover & Share GIFs | Star wars nerd, Star wars yoda, Star wars

Today’s song:

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (12/28/20)–Under Falling Skies

Hi there, bibliophiles, and welcome to the last Goodreads Monday of 2020! (Whoa…)

Falling Cat | Know Your Meme
When that feeling of “thank god 2020 is almost over” combined with “WAIT THE YEAR IS ALMOST OVER” hits

Anyway, Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

Here we have yet another book that I put on my TBR this year and completely forgot about until a week ago…but hey, it’s nice to remember those kinds of books again. Plus, I’m always up for some good sci-fi.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (12/28/20)–UNDER FALLING SKIES by Kate MacLeod

Under Falling Skies by Kate MacLeod

Blurb from Goodreads:

Scout Shannon’s whole family died the day the Space Farers dropped an asteroid on their domed city. Now she lives alone, out in the wild with only her dogs for company. She prefers it that way.

But Scout finds herself at a crossroads. One road leads back to a quiet life snug under the protective dome of a city. The other road leads to a life in the rebellion, a life of adventure and excitement but also danger. Dare she try to find the rebels hiding in the hills?

Then a chance encounter with a stranger from the other side of the galaxy threatens to derail what remains of Scout’s life. The entire galaxy awaits her, if she survives the next four days.

SO WHY DO I WANT TO READ THIS?

stars gif | via Tumblr on We Heart It

As of now, Under Falling Skies has a fairly low average rating on Goodreads (3.39), but that’s only from…28 ratings and only six reviews? And it came out in 2017? Jeez…

This novel is advertised as not only having a sci-fi appeal, but having an “Old West” vibe too, so that could have an interesting execution. I’m certainly drawn in by the premise of Scout, alone (save for her dogs) and trying to hunt down the last fragments of a rebellion in an unforgiving wasteland. Kind of Dustborn vibes, but with more space opera appeal.

It looks like this one’s self-published, and it’s always good to boost the voices of indie/self-published authors, so maybe in doing this blog post (and hopefully reading it soon), I can get the word around and get some more readers. Plus, it’s only $0.99 for the Kindle edition on Amazon at present…

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Today’s song:

That’s it for the last Goodreads Monday of 2020! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (11/30/20)–Victories Greater Than Death

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

This week’s pick is another 2021 release that came on my radar via Edelweiss. I was excited from the start, but the cover made me want to read it even more!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (11/30/20)–VICTORIES GREATER THAN DEATH by Charlie Jane Anders

Victories Greater Than Death | Charlie Jane Anders | Macmillan

Blurb from Goodreads:

A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts

Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.

And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.

So why do I want to read this?

star wars: attack of the clones | Tumblr

When I first found out about Victories, it didn’t have a cover…and now that it’s out, lemme just say…ISN’T IT THE DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF GORGEOUS? The faint star details on the sidelines, the beautiful shade of purple in the hair and the eyes, the art style, the…everything…

But beyond that, this sounds like an amazing premise! I’m always searching for quality YA sci-fi and space opera, and this looks like it might just satisfy. I love the concept of Tina being the clone of an infamous alien warlord, and that could certainly open up tons of interesting possibilities as far as the plot goes. (I’m just hoping said aliens aren’t…y’know, unnaturally attractive humans with unconventional eye colors. Just…stop…) And it’s shelved as LGBTQ+ on Goodreads, so that’s always a plus!

Chances are, this is going to be my first experience of Charlie Jane Anders’ writing, and I think this is her YA debut, too. (I also have The City in the Middle of the Night on my TBR). I always see her on the list of authors/artists/creators who almost always comes to the Denver Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con), which is the closest thing I have to a local Comic Con, so it’d be cool if I enjoyed her books AND got to meet her in the next few years! Fingers crossed…I might just have to preorder this one sometime soon.

Victories Greater than Death comes out in April 2021, so I’ll see you all then…

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Today’s song:

Jeff Tweedy: master musician and songwriter, purveyor of many mildly cursed music videos

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!