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Aster believes she is a normal teenage girl – she is very wrong . . .

Teenager Aster barely escapes with her life when her adoptive father is killed in a shooting. Suddenly finding herself under the protection of a special US military unit, she learns that blood tests indicate that she’s not even human. Unsure who or what she might be – or if any of this is true – Aster’s first instinct is to flee.

Unfortunately, she soon finds she is caught between two warring sides: on one, her mortal enemies, the alien Trackers, and on the other, the American government.

Then, from the most unexpected quarter, she finds someone offering to help her – someone her instincts tell her can’t be trusted . . .

Now Aster can be certain of just two things: her blood is more vital than she ever knew and the fate of the world rests upon her survival.

Title : For The First Time Again
Author : Sylvain Neuvel
Series : Take Them To The Stars #3
Format : Physical
Page Count : 400
Genre : Sci-Fi
Publisher : Penguin Michael Joseph
Release Date : April 18, 2023

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

Everything cycles until it doesn’t
Aster made a great focus
Samael surprises

The culmination to this Sci-fi historical(ish) series was fast-paced and the over-arching plot continued to engage me. This installment was in the most recent history as each generation has moved forward. The story in For The First Time, Again introduced Aster, a 12-year old girl, abandoned by her mother. Readers of this series will be shocked at just that because mother-daughter relationships have underpinned everything for the Kibsu.

Aster was a little feral, especially once she found herself on her own. Samael, who we’d met in a previous book as a tracker was a reformed character mostly and these two formed a unexpected bond. Where that bond ended up right at the end, really shocked me.

There were some great plot directions, some unforeseen turns and for once, the Kibsu made allegiances with others you might not predict. I never really knew what to make of Saa as an individual nor her connection with Aster, so I just had to read along trusting the story.

Does this book wrap things up neatly? Thats a no with a healthy dose of some. There’s an opennes to how this ended and I would have liked a few more answers. That said, it’s been a clever, engaging series that I would recommend to other sci-fi fans.

3.75 stars rounded up


What if marriage was the law? Dare you disobey?

Britain. The near-future. A right-wing government believes it has the answer to society’s ills — the Sanctity of Marriage Act, which actively encourages marriage as the norm, punishing those who choose to remain single.

But four couples are about to discover just how impossible relationships can be when the government is monitoring every aspect of our personal lives — monitoring every word, every minor disagreement — and will use every tool in its arsenal to ensure everyone will love, honor and obey.

Title : The Marriage Act
Author : John Marrs
Format : eARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : dystopian / sci-fi / thriller
Publisher : Hanover Square Press
Release Date : May 2, 2023

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★

Hollis’ 2 star review

This might very well be a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing because I was so hooked by this premise but so little of it satisfied. Infact, I found the whole thing to be bleak and un-fun. And yes, I mean, if you read the plot you might think of course it’s bleak, of course it won’t be fun, but I think there could’ve been a way to have all these themes, these events, and not come away feeling as I do.

Naturally, we aren’t about to root for the system that’s been set-up in this near-future world. But you’d think we would have some characters, or some situations, to root for. Except the only one who was really deserving.. well. He has the most heartbreaking plotline. Everyone else, even those who weren’t sociopaths or narcissists, they were all somehow complicit or hypocritical and while there’s something to be said for shades of grey, complicated personas, well.. yeah. I guess there’s something to be said. But not here.

Because much of what is found in his society, the Smart devices, the Smart homes, etc, already exists in ours, it’s not hard to make the leap that the rest could one day be true, too. Already we see the push to control others, to dictate what’s acceptable, so why wouldn’t this be the next step? It does make you think. But I guess I expected to feel something, too. And I didn’t.

I think if you like an Orwellian dystopian world, especially one that feels just a half-step away, with various POVs that slowly overlap in subtle ways, you might enjoy this. And while I can’t count myself among them, I try this author again.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

HOW HIGH WE GO IN THE DARK by Sequoia Nagamatsu

For fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven, a spellbinding and profoundly prescient debut that follows a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a climate plague—a daring and deeply heartfelt work of mind-bending imagination from a singular new voice.

Beginning in 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.

Once unleashed, the Arctic Plague will reshape life on earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.

From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resiliency of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.

Title : How High We Go In The Dark
Author : Sequoia Nagamatsu
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 304
Genre : sci-fi / dystopian
Publisher : William Morrow
Release Date : January 18, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Hollis’ 4 star review

The moment you check-in your hold before remembering you were supposed to go back and write down all your favourites parts of the collection..

Because even though these are more like companion pieces, vignettes, of a whole story, they still do feel like their own separate entities. They connect in more than just the overall plot, as a character referenced in one might have their own story next, and again, and again. Each tackled something a little different for this world, and these people, going through a pandemic. Unlike ours, theirs seemed almost supernatural, science-fiction, and eventually they do progress to leaving Earth and traveling amongst the stars. 

So, yeah, big red flag here : this is a pandemic novel so if you aren’t ready for that, stay far away.

But as initially mentioned, some of these stories were so so great. In fact, the first handful of them were absolute standouts. A few along the way were fine, interesting, but it was the early ones that really hit me emotionally. And near the end things got really unexpected and I enjoyed that, too.

I will absolutely be reading this author again and I’m so glad this somehow ended up on my radar.

IN THE LIVES OF PUPPETS by T.J. Klune – double review!

New York Times bestselling author TJ Klune invites you deep into the heart of a peculiar forest and on the extraordinary journey of a family assembled from spare parts.

In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots–fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe. 

The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled “HAP,” he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio-a past spent hunting humans. 

When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio’s former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic’s assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming. 

Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached? 

Inspired by Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, and like Swiss Family Robinson meets Wall-EIn the Lives of Puppets is a masterful stand-alone fantasy adventure from the beloved author who brought you The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door.

Title : In The Lives of Puppets
Author : T.J. Klune
Format : ARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ fantasy / sci-fi
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : April 25, 2023

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★

Hollis’ 2 star review

I really didn’t think I’d be coming out of one of my most anticipated releases feeling so.. ambivalent. Unmoved. But here we are.

I definitely didn’t hate it but despite some quirky side-characters gadding about with the usual Klune-style hijinks it is, unfortunately, unmemorable. I’ve definitely struggled with some of this authors’ work in the past (notably, in fact, said struggles were with the series that I constantly saw parallels of while reading this book) but even those stand out in a variety of ways. This one? Honestly, it doesn’t. It’s already starting to fade and I literally just put it down.

However, I’ll say that if you enjoyed the Verania series? I think you’ll have a better time than I did. The more outlandish humour that exists in those books has been absent from the last few (trad) releases but I finally saw some of it filtering through these characters. It was occasionally funny, especially in the beginning, and then I got tired. The same way Verania tired me out. And in fact it felt like the same character ensemble dynamic — even if I did enjoy these character archetypes more, particularly in the case of Nurse Ratched (though would I be saying the same if we were five books deep with the same shtick? unlikely because, again, I was tired well before the end of just one book). Maybe another reason this didn’t work.

But truthfully, I think it was more than just the fifty shades of Verania. Or a combination of the two. Because for a book so focused on hearts, I didn’t feel much of it. Heart, I mean. I never connected with the emotional beats of the story, I never connected with Victor who was our only lens to live through, and when it’s all said and done I have no idea where these characters go from here. A story doesn’t really need a purpose or a finite ending but I feel like some direction might’ve helped here, especially as the plot was so.. light.

There are definitely some lovely bits mixed in with the outlandish, Klune certainly knows how to turn a phrase, and there was some interesting dialogue about humanity and flaws and acceptance, but sadly it all just kind of bounced off me. I could acknowledge the funny, the sweet, the whatever, and then, poof, moment over. But maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m the problem.

While I’m (sadly) not able to climb aboard the hype train for this release, if you’re looking for something that’s an homage (though less than I expected..) to Pinocchio, with more The Brave Little Toaster than I’ve seen since the nineties, seasoned by a pinch of Frankenstein, a dash of Wall-E, and a splash of The Monk and The Robot.. or you’re just another Klunatic willing to devour anything by this author (no judgment here, I am one of you!), I would definitely not want to scare you away from giving this a go. This might very well satisfy — or, to stick with the robot theme, hit all your buttons. And I hope it does.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

Micky’s 4 star review

Quirky, HAPpy and sad
Found family (of course)
A story of halves

If In the Lives of Puppets leaves me with one impression it’s the found family goodness that is Klune’s signature move and he does it so well. This family however was the weirdest yet, one that really grew on me and dragged me on board with the whiplash dialogue.

This was a story of two halves, the first half I adored, the second half was less engaging as the characters moved from a take on Pinnochio to what felt like the Wizard of Oz to me. When the story completed and came full circle, it brought satisfaction (mostly) in culmination. It wasn’t wrapped in a bow but it was enough.

The characters in this book were special. Vic at the centre but the pages were equally shared with Gio, Nurse Ratched (my personal favourite), Rambo and Hap. There were so many highlights and laugh out loud moments with Nurse Ratched; I loved her demented banter.

“I’m old enough to be your motherboard. Please do not flirt with me if you do not mean it.”

There were themes gently behind the whole tale about humanity, the direction we’re moving, what humanity strives for and overall about kindness. Klune never preaches, he just cleverly crafts the words.

Overall, this was a truly interesting standalone from Klune and one I will remember.

Thank you to Tor Books for the review copy.


While we live, the enemy shall fear us.

All her life Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the murder of planet Earth. Raised in the bowels of Gaea Station alongside the last scraps of humanity, she readies herself to face the Wisdom, the all-powerful, reality-shaping weapon that gave the Majoda their victory over humanity.

They are what’s left. They are what must survive. Kyr is one of the best warriors of her generation, the sword of a dead planet. But when Command assigns her brother to certain death and relegates her to the nursery to bear sons until she dies trying, she knows she must take humanity’s revenge into her own hands.

Alongside her brother’s brilliant but seditious friend and a lonely, captive alien, she escapes from everything she’s ever known into a universe far more complicated than she was taught and far more wondrous than she could have imagined.

A thrillingly told queer space opera about the wreckage of war, the family you find, and who you must become when every choice is stripped from you, Some Desperate Glory is award-winning author Emily Tesh’s highly anticipated debut novel.

Title : Some Desperate Glory
Author : Emily Tesh
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ sci-fi
Publisher : Tordotcom
Release Date : April 11, 2023

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★.5 

Hollis’ 3.5 star review

This book had me feeling all sorts of things. And one of those things, like is typical for me, is whether I need to round this up or not. Because even though this took me a week to read, the good parts were pretty good. Almost great. But what keeps it from being actually great are the bits that if you look too hard at.. kind of fall apart. Maybe. Unless that’s just me.

I will say that the way this story went wasn’t remotely what I expected. Events take a turn that definitely shocked me and also very much intrigued me — even though the very presence of this element is part of what I’m trying not too look too hard at for fear of it all disintegrating.

In some ways what Some Desperate Glory offers isn’t anything particularly new. But through Kyr, our main character, we have what feels like such a painfully authentic character arc that somehow things do still feel fresh. Everything she experienced, and then re-experienced, felt true. Most of the time in these extreme perspective shifts, breaking away from the mentality or the indoctrination or the belief, whatever, it doesn’t always feel genuine. This one did. Because we see her work through it, re-evaluate, and own it.

I can’t really claim to have enjoyed any other character, though. Maybe that was hindered by the single POV and because of how Kyr looks at the world in the early chapters? When we finally do understand more of those around us, it’s a little too late to be invested in them. Yiso might be the exception. But that’s a gimme. I think we’re not given a choice on whether or not to like them.

While there was a lot I couldn’t picture — mostly the engines, the Wisdom, the shadowy jump things — I didn’t really let that be a stumbling block in the enjoyment of it all. Or I tried not to. Though it does go hand in hand with the bit I mentioned above about just not looking too hard at it all. I understood enough from context clues but the whole existence of them, and how little (really) gets explained, well. Maybe if I was a little smarter, a little more invested in the whys, one could pick some things apart, open up some literal and plot holes, but I just shimmied on by and let it all happen.

And I think it was easy to do so because of the writing. Tesh tackles a lot of topics and concepts but also does it with a really accessible kind of style. There was plenty of emotional resonance when required and there were some devastating stark realizations, too. It felt well balanced and compelling. Which makes the reality of the romance, or really lack thereof, a bit disappointing. But it’s hard to get into the why of it without being spoilery. Better reviewers than I could probably hint or explain this and I’ll leave that to them.

Overall, I did have a good time reading this and I will absolutely read this author again. I enjoyed so much of what this story was doing and can see myself revisiting this again in the future. So if this sounds like your thing, I would definitely give it a chance.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. **

FRONTIER by Grace Curtis

A heartfelt queer romance in a high noon standoff with Earth’s uncertain future, full of love, loss, and laser guns. Perfect for fans of Becky Chambers and Mary Robinette Kowal.

In the distant future, climate change has reduced Earth to a hard-scrabble wasteland. Saints and sinners, lawmakers and sheriffs, gunslingers and horse thieves abound. Folk are as diverse and divided as they’ve ever been – except in their shared suspicions when a stranger comes to town.

One night a ship falls from the sky, bringing the planet’s first visitor in three hundred years.

She’s armed, she’s scared . . . and she’s looking for someone.

Title : Frontier
Author : Grace Curtis
Format : Physical
Page Count : 256
Genre : Sci-Fi/LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : March 6, 2023

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 3 star review

Gunslinging planetary standoffs
Sapphic connections
Technology evils

This was a quick read with western vibes in a sci-fi setting. Earth was a slightly recognisable wasteland in a dystopian future of suspicion and survival. All that said, the tone of this book had a lightness to it at times.

The MC was somewhat elusive and the story was told in looping POVs that circled back to the MC. It was an unusual approach to storytelling but it mostly worked for me once I realised how it was structured.

The civilisation on Earth was interesting with a religious zealotry related to the evils of technology; guns were okay though… The stories that connected to the overall story presented an eclectic bunch of characters but I really enjoyed getting the juice on the MC and their search for their beloved.

An interesting concept with a fresh feel. Thank you to Pride Book Tours and Hodder Books for the review copy.

THE WORLD GIVES WAY by Marissa Levien

In a near-future world on the brink of collapse, a young woman born into servitude must seize her own freedom in this glittering debut with a brilliant twist; perfect for fans of Station Eleven, Karen Thompson Walker, and Naomi Alderman.

In fifty years, Myrra will be free.

Until then, she’s a contract worker. Ever since she was five, her life and labor have belonged to the highest bidder on her contract–butchers, laundries, and now the powerful, secretive Carlyles.

But when one night finds the Carlyles dead, Myrra is suddenly free a lot sooner than she anticipated–and at a cost she never could have imagined. Burdened with the Carlyles’ orphaned daughter and the terrible secret they died to escape, she runs. With time running out, Myrra must come face to face with the truth about her world–and embrace what’s left before it’s too late.

A sweeping novel with a darkly glimmering heart, The World Gives Way is an unforgettable portrait of a world in freefall, and the fierce drive to live even at the end of it all.

Title : The World Gives Way
Author : Marissa Levien
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 380
Genre : sci-fi / mystery / dystopian
Publisher : Redhook
Release Date : May 1, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5

Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This probably won’t be a long review because I’m still kind of absorbing this read but.. wow. This surprised me in so many ways and I’m definitely feeling some aftershocks about the impact of the whole experience.

A lot of moving parts go into making a world work. It is a monstrous, exquisite machine.

I went into this expecting a cat-and-mouse mystery thriller set in space but while that’s not a wrong description, it’s very much only one small part. And not the best way to indicate the vibe of this book, either, which is less of a thriller and more of a slow moving collision of characters and themes. Because in so many ways this is haunting, introspective, enraging, stunning, and sad. Levien’s writing was so compelling, so lovely, and somehow she put all these different things into this book (which is a d e b u t, by the way) and made it work. And then gave us that ending. Which, I mean, yeah, of course I cried. Pretty sure I was getting the weepies by 91% and that was before I even knew the final line of the book.

The world owes me nothing, he thought, certainly not a perfect ending.

Even though this isn’t getting a five star, it has some of those qualities. Again, the writing? Wow. The little interludes? Devastating in their matter of factness. And the world? It reminded me of something from Interstellar, helped by the fact that this is sci-fi, but the mythology around it, what they had forgotten, or lost the context for, it was all just so clever, so seamless, and I could envision it so well. Not the least because of the dystopian societal structure was so familiar and, well, sadly typical. But the feel of it all? Still felt new, and fresh, and.. yeah, I might be jumping the gun here after only one book but Levien might be jumping right onto my auto-read author list.

Highly recommend.

SWEEP OF THE HEART by Ilona Andrews

From the New York Times #1 bestselling author, Ilona Andrews, comes a fun and action-packed new adventure in the Innkeeper Chronicles! We invite you to relax, enjoy yourself, and above all, remember the one rule all visitors must obey: the humans must never know.

Life is busier than ever for Innkeeper, Dina DeMille and Sean Evans. But it’s about to get even more chaotic when Sean’s werewolf mentor is kidnapped. To find him, they must host an intergalactic spouse-search for one of the most powerful rulers in the Galaxy. Dina is never one to back down from a challenge. That is, if she can manage her temperamental Red Cleaver chef; the consequences of her favorite Galactic ex-tyrant’s dark history; the tangled politics of an interstellar nation, and oh, yes, keep the wedding candidates from a dozen alien species from killing each other. Not to mention the Costco lady.

They say love is a battlefield; but Dina and Sean are determined to limit the casualties!

Title : Sweep of the Heart
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Innkeeper Chronicles (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 456
Genre : fantasy / sci-fi
Publisher : NYLA
Release Date : December 13, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★.5

Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Admittedly, this is not my favourite IA series but looking back I’ve given this series more four stars than I would’ve thought. Probably because somehow this author duo still manages to pull things off even if I’m not invested in the plot or as enamoured by the characters as I am for their other works. And also because this series takes more.. concentration, focus, and requires more push to make it through the events and (often) huge strange cast of characters involved. And this was no exception.

Book five in this series can basically be summed up as a intergalactic alien Bachelor extravaganza with all the expected politics and assassins one might expect. But Gertrude Hunt, Dina and Sean’s inn, along with their motley crew, are roped into hosting for the benefit of a favour. Also a nice little bump in rations and reputation if they manage to keep everyone alive.

While the events that take up 85% of the plot weren’t always interesting — I skimmed some of the long paragraphs of some of the dates or the backstory of some of the players — I was really fond of how it resolved. It gave me a bit of an inner squish.

Having said that, I don’t think I was fully prepared for the shift in the plot, once the favour was granted, because a few pages later I found myself crying over a house. Okay, crying sounds dramatic, but I got choked up and felt weepy about it. I’ll admit I did predict some of the reveal but nevertheless it still had impact.

So, yeah, is this my favourite world? No, but it’s creative as hell. Is this my favourite couple? Absolutely not, unfortunately I don’t find either of them all that charismatic or interesting, though the events and circumstances around them can be; and I dig the magic system. But I am invested in the big mystery of the piece and it seems like we’re finally getting closer to that. I have no idea what the longterm plan is in the sense of forecasted length for this series but I’ve yet to give up on anything IA and I’m not starting now.

CELESTIAL by M.D. Lachlan


Ziggy Da Luca is a linguist recruited by NASA for reasons she can’t quite fathom. After seeing the video they’ve intercepted, it becomes clear her work is far more central to their plans than she realised.

Sent to the moon to investigate a hatch discovered by the Russians, Ziggy faces challenges she’s never trained for. Seen by some as a liability, she must contend with her own crew as well as the Russian cosmonauts, as everyone races to uncover the hatch’s mystery.

What she finds there is beyond anything she could imagine. The future of humankind could be changed for ever. The only question is whether she’ll make it home to tell her story.

Title : Celestial
Author : M.D. Lachlan
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 324
Genre : Sci-Fi
Publisher : Gollancz
Release Date : November 3, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

Conceptually fascinating
Space race tensions
Somewhat whacky

Celestial was a historically set sci-fi adventure set in 1977 with the political cold war tensions between the US and the then Soviet Union you’d expect of that era. In some ways this book gave me an initial vibe of Sylvain Neuvel’s writing but it did diverge from that feeling as the book progressed. The context for this story was some strange happenings on the moon with a buddist language and linguist sent to investigate (the buddist element became important).

I found the first third of the book the most exciting part of the plot, the second third was a ‘let’s just go with it’ experience and the final third was somewhat esoteric where I had to trust the process. Sci-fi has a solid history in taking us places that seek to explore the existential and this book definitely took that direction.

Ziggy was a worthy lead for this book and you can imagine the misogyny she experienced in the 1970s as a female mixed race linguist amongst white male scientists and soldiers. I had one moment where I had to close the book in ire at one comment she received, but I’m sure that’s pretty realistic. This book is peppered with racist (micro)agressions from one vile character to a range of other characters but Ziggy did have some champions alongside, not least herself.

Kovac was a really odd character, pretty unfathomable to the last. I can’t say I liked her and I feel like my gut bore me out on this one. Toog was a great character and some of the Russians were endearing and yet odd.

I do recommend this one even though it does go strange places in the plot.

Thank you to Gollancz for the review copy.

3.75 stars rounded up.

POSTER GIRL by Veronica Roth

For fans of Anthony Marra and Lauren Beukes, #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth tells the story of a woman’s desperate search for a missing girl after the collapse of the oppressive dystopian regime–and the dark secrets about her family and community she uncovers along the way


Sonya Kantor knows this slogan–she lived by it for most of her life. For decades, everyone in the Seattle-Portland megalopolis lived under it, as well as constant surveillance in the form of the Insight, an ocular implant that tracked every word and every action, rewarding or punishing by a rigid moral code set forth by the Delegation.

Then there was a revolution. The Delegation fell. Its most valuable members were locked in the Aperture, a prison on the outskirts of the city. And everyone else, now free from the Insight’s monitoring, went on with their lives.

Sonya, former poster girl for the Delegation, has been imprisoned for ten years when an old enemy comes to her with a deal: find a missing girl who was stolen from her parents by the old regime, and earn her freedom. The path Sonya takes to find the child will lead her through an unfamiliar, crooked post-Delegation world where she finds herself digging deeper into the past–and her family’s dark secrets–than she ever wanted to.

With razor sharp prose, Poster Girl is a haunting dystopian mystery that explores the expanding role of surveillance on society–an inescapable reality that we welcome all too easily.

Title : Poster Girl
Author : Veronica Roth
Format : eARC
Page Count : 288
Genre : sci-fi / dystopia
Publisher : William Morrow & Company
Release Date : October 18, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★.5

Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Ever wondered what The Hunger Games might’ve been like if Katniss was from District two instead of twelve? Something maybe a little like this; minus the actual Hunger Games event.

Instead, it’s more like Best Manners Royale because under the Delegation’s regime — which utilized eyeball implanted computers ala GoogleGlass (because people got too lazy to carry phones) that also tallied up infractions/awarded you points for good and bad behaviour — they wanted you molded into a compliant citizen. But after the Delegation fell, those who had enforced the rules, even the children of those families, they were all locked away.

Sonya Kantor is one of those children. Worse, she was actually the literal poster girl for the institution that had ruined so many lives. Now an adult, years after having lost her family, and most of the people she loved, she’s offered a chance to leave the prison she and other Delegation members/sympathizers, etc, have been locked away in; even though she’s deemed just too old to qualify for the new law that has passed. But she’s given a chance anyway — help track down a young girl, a second child (illegal for most people to have) who had been “re-homed” to another family, and she will earn her freedom. Along the way, though, she has to confront a figure from her past and realities she hadn’t known.

The concept of this story, which I’m actually loathe to call dystopian because some days it feels like we’re on the cusp of something this scary (whereas ten years ago it wouldn’t have felt that way!), was interesting.

There is some thought provoking discussion and allegory to be found in these pages but, let’s break it down into elements, as a mystery I would’ve liked more tension. As a dystopian some extra worldbuilding would’ve been nice. And for the little bit of romance we get I would’ve liked more chemistry — though to be honest the whole thing could’ve been ditched altogether.

While there is no overall satisfaction from the story, or at least I didn’t feel that way, Poster Girl is a quick read and might just be worth your time anyway.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **