Victories Greater than Death, Charlie Jane Anders – Book Review

Hello Humans! Charlie Jane Anders is an author whose work I have been following since pretty much the start of my blogging adventures – I picked up All The Birds in the Sky quite some time ago and since then I’ve always been interested in her work. I was interested to see what her new YA book Victories Greater than Death would be like and I’m delighted to have been able to read it just before release (though this review might go up just after…)

Goodreads Summary:

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.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this story! I went in with very few expectations and coming out the other side I had had a very fun space adventure with no small amount of found family and friendships with a hefty dose of LGBT+ representation. That was, broadly speaking, what I was anticipating so it was nice to have that confirmed!

YA science fiction has a tendency to fall flat for me mostly because I either feel like the characters aren’t appreciative of the fact that they are in space or they are totally blasé about the danger they are in at any given time. Charlie Jane Anders manages to neatly avoid either of those things and produces a group of teenagers who were remarkable non-annoying while also not feeling like fully fledged adults. Obviously I am no longer an authority on what actual teenage/young adult readers might feel about this but for me it worked much better than some other stories have done.

What I will say about this book is that it gets much better after the first 40% or so. Put simply I think there was too much detail and worldbuilding/political/life knowledge that Tina needed to have for the story to progress and there were a lot of players who needed to be in position for things to start. In order to get all that in place without just writing a whole book of worldbuilding there is a fair amount of ‘here is the reason we don’t need to explain this’ which is technically find but felt a little bit annoying and ‘explaining away’. I can understand a desire not to info dump but this did leave me feeling a little bit like a lot of things were taken for granted and I just was supposed to get on with reading.

And to be fair once I did take them for granted and we got into the meat of the plot I did have a very good time so perhaps that technique did work – it’s just a shame that this story doesn’t have a stronger start as I wonder if it will lead to people DNFing before it gets good? If you’re wondering and you’ve come across this review let me just say PERSEVERE.

I liked a lot of the various twists and turns of this story and it was one of the few stories with memory manipulation that didn’t totally make me uncomfortable – I mean it’s not a fun time with what happens but it didn’t feel horrendous reading it what has happened to me before. I loved Tina’s part of the story but I’m hopeful that we’ll get even more of the ensemble as the series goes on because in them this story really shines.

My rating: 4/5 stars (after the 40% mark)

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley – all opinions are my own.

Victories Greater than Death is out now!

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