Escaping Exodus
Escaping Exodus is a story of a young woman named Seske Kaleigh, heir to the command of a biological, city-size starship carved up from the insides of a spacefaring beast. Her clan has just now culled their latest ship and the workers are busy stripping down the bonework for building materials, rerouting the circulatory system for mass transit, and preparing the cavernous creature for the onslaught of the general populous still in stasis. It’s all a part of the cycle her clan had instituted centuries ago—excavate the new beast, expand into its barely-living carcass, extinguish its resources over the course of a decade, then escape in a highly coordinated exodus back into stasis until they cull the next beast from the diminishing herd.And of course there wouldn’t be much of a story if things didn’t go terribly, terribly wrong.Escaping Exodus is scheduled to be in readers’ orbit Summer 2019.

Escaping Exodus Details

TitleEscaping Exodus
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 15th, 2019
PublisherHarper Voyager
ISBN-139780062867735
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Adult

Escaping Exodus Review

  • Nicky Drayden
    January 1, 1970
    I'm so excited for y'all to read this book! This one really took me down a rabbit hole of weirdness. "An Afrofuturist love story, set inside a giant space-creature, about two women of different castes...top-notch worldbuilding and sharp characterization." - Kirkus Reviews
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  • Acqua
    January 1, 1970
    A biopunk horror generation ship sci-fi novel with a main f/f relationship between two black girls, a strong and well-thought-out environmentalist message, really well written body horror, and, uh, plot-relevant tentacle sex.I loved what it had to say and what it was trying to achieve, but some things - especially in the ending - just didn't end up working for me. I've said this before about Nicky Drayden's books, but there's always something about the pacing, about the transition from one scene to the next, that j/>I A biopunk horror generation ship sci-fi novel with a main f/f relationship between two black girls, a strong and well-thought-out environmentalist message, really well written body horror, and, uh, plot-relevant tentacle sex.I loved what it had to say and what it was trying to achieve, but some things - especially in the ending - just didn't end up working for me. I've said this before about Nicky Drayden's books, but there's always something about the pacing, about the transition from one scene to the next, that just doesn't flow as well as it should. The result is a stilted, odd-paced book. Here, the first 70% was interesting, if somewhat slow moving; then the book both gained steam and completely lost me. Things were happening too quickly, plotlines that were set up as a big deal were suddenly abandoned with very little consequence or even discussion, plot threads were left floating... like tentacles in empty space, I guess.And it's a shame, because this had so much potential. Escaping Exodus is set in a giant, dying space-faring cephalopod-like beast, and not only it has all the wonderful biological horror you can expect from this kind of setting, there are also discussions about classism and environmentalism - the dying beast situation is great as a metaphor for Earth and climate change - and how the two are tied; not enough books approach environmental justice even when talking about the consequences that a looming catastrophe of this scale has on people's behavior. I also highlighted a good portion of one of Seske's chapters, because I found it a realistic portrayal of what it's like to be a young person in this situation and feeling disappointed by the adults around you. As far as this aspect goes, I loved how the dying beast situation was handled in the end, with a focus on (view spoiler)[repairing things instead of running away to a new planet. (hide spoiler)]However, even this aspect of the novel felt forced. This book felt as if it set out with the idea of having this message, of ending in this specific way, and didn't give as much thought to the journey: the characters were led to that point as if they were marionettes, instead of getting there themselves.And it couldn't have felt any other way, not when the characters are so flat. I finished the book realizing that I still knew nothing about the two main characters, rich, privileged Seske and beastworker Adala, apart from them being young teens and... loving each other? At times? It's really messy, and I might have appreciated that more, if not for the fact that a lot of things in here didn't have the space and time to grow.Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot to love about Escaping Exodus. I might have been annoyed that this book, after deciding that making sense was overrated, also deliberated that consistency was for the weak, but I thought the worldbuilding was amazing. I love reading about world-ships, and the book goes into enough detail about the anatomy to make me want to know more (so, a primary heart, branchial hearts and tentacles, like cephalopods? But it has bones? Are those tentacles or arms or both? I have questions) and the society that inhabits it was just as fascinating. In Escaping Exodus, polyamory isn't just accepted, it's expected, and just as the society has many layers and rigidly assigned roles, so do people in the family; one can see both where these things came from and why they're damaging or stifling to many people. It's a matriarchy, which was interesting to see as well. I did like that it talked about what happens to trans people in these circumstances, but I didn't love how the major trans character basically paid the price for what happened in a way that the cis main characters didn't.If I had to describe this in a few words as a tl;dr, I would say that Escaping Exodus feels as if The Stars Are Legion and An Unkindness of Ghosts had a charmingly messy child that takes itself far less seriously than either of them. It reminded me of both, but it's entirely its own, very weird thing. Not my favorite book by this author, and it had enough material in it that to properly address it I think it should have been a duology, but worth reading nonetheless.
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  • K.J. Charles
    January 1, 1970
    I have previously said there is no weird-ass plot turn Nicky Drayden won't take. I would like to underline that and maybe add some stars in various colours of highlighter pen. This is a spectacularly bizarre concept, of spacegoing societies living inside giant interstellar beasts, in the body cavities. It's quite staggeringly biological, full of fluids and sphincters and organs in a way that's quite overwhelming at points. There is...ooze. Alien jizz. It's sticky. The society is matriarchal and I have previously said there is no weird-ass plot turn Nicky Drayden won't take. I would like to underline that and maybe add some stars in various colours of highlighter pen. This is a spectacularly bizarre concept, of spacegoing societies living inside giant interstellar beasts, in the body cavities. It's quite staggeringly biological, full of fluids and sphincters and organs in a way that's quite overwhelming at points. There is...ooze. Alien jizz. It's sticky. The society is matriarchal and sidelines men, and entirely made up of people of colour. (There are other beast-using societies that are made up differently, we find out.) This matriarchy doesn't lead to wisdom or kindness, though, and the pressure of life in a beast warps the society in all sorts of weird ways, including family structures and an unforgiving attitude to failure. This book is doing so much at once. It's about human callousness and carelessness to the world we depend on for life, and privilege and in-groups and bigotry. It's very queer--trans characters, playing with gender roles, and the main pairing is f/f--and extremely focused on social injustice and class war. I loved all of that--the world is a complicated place and all these things coexist in reality. It did mean that some plot strands felt like they needed more development space, particularly in the last third, which felt a bit rushed. There's also a bit of an issue in that one of the MCs is highly privileged and needs her eyes opened to injustice to the point where I found it extremely hard to see what the working-class MC saw in her, and also rooted for the unacknowledged sister trying to overthrow her. Seske works to redeem herself, and (a rare event with privileged central characters) comes to the logical conclusion (view spoiler)[that she doesn't deserve to be the new ruler and therefore abdicates because she's not competent (hide spoiler)] which is something, but I never felt she deserved her fantastic love interest Adalla, a hardened beast-worker and revolutionary who I loved.A bizarre, engrossing, wildly imaginative and deeply physical reading experience, with lots to chew on and some impressive body horror.
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  • Katie Gallagher
    January 1, 1970
    For other fun bookish stuff, visit my blog!Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. Escaping Exodus debuts October 15th.The seemingly acid trip-inspired cover of Escaping Exodus does the words inside justice: this book is unabashedly weird. Drayden chronicles a matriarchal society that has made the innards of a gargantuan, living space beast their home; when one space beast is on the way out health-wise, they literally ju For other fun bookish stuff, visit my blog!Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. Escaping Exodus debuts October 15th.The seemingly acid trip-inspired cover of Escaping Exodus does the words inside justice: this book is unabashedly weird. Drayden chronicles a matriarchal society that has made the innards of a gargantuan, living space beast their home; when one space beast is on the way out health-wise, they literally jump ship (har har) to the next one in the herd. It’s mad, it’s trippy, it’s body horror at times, and it’s the kind of book you really need to experience for yourself.I inch closer to the pond of cool, debris-ridden slime that rims the sphincter. It pulses, back and forth, back and forth, a putrid-looking pucker of flesh. Adalla sticks both of her hands in the hole and pulls hard, her muscles rippling and bulging. The rim tries to hold tight, even looks like it’s tugging against her, but eventually it gives, and the hole widens just enough for a person to slip through.And is the book YA? The main characters are certainly the proper age, but I’d say not really; it doesn’t have the tone you’d expect, which I chalk up to the MCs living in such an alien society and feeling so young and brash that they’re completely unrelatable. There were times I had a really hard time buying the decisions of the MCs; for people living in a society that faces the constant threat of extinction, they have no issues throwing caution to the wind at every opportunity.The pacing of the book was also strange, to say the least. From start to finish action is stuffed together in a kind of madcap jumble, but then threads of story seem to wither away into nothingness, never to be picked up again. I think the blurb for the book is kind of telling: one big infodump followed by the most blah of final hooks:And of course there wouldn’t be much of a story if things didn’t go terribly, terribly wrong.Notice how unspecific that is? There’s too much going on in this book to condense the plot into “If X character doesn’t do Y near-impossible thing, then Z terrible consequence will happen!” We’ve got a lesbian princess and subject forbidden love affair, an underclass uprising, people communicating in code by making out, sex with baby space beasts, an obtuse matriarchal and polyamorous family system with like eight moms and a couple dads per child, court intrigue, clone rights, inter-space beast communications, forgotten histories… I could continue if needed. As per usual, the social justice themes were a turn-off for me, but even that kind of got drowned out by all the crazy, constant details. And yet, for a book with so much detailed worldbuilding, I somehow found it hard to picture exactly what was going on in a lot of scenes, I think because the whole book takes an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach.Basically, Escaping Exodus felt far too ambitious; I would have liked to see more nuance. Nevertheless, many scenes were absolutely riveting, and some bits have really stuck with me. (I read this book back in July.) It’s obvious that this author has tons of potential, so I’m definitely up for reading more of her work.
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  • Crini
    January 1, 1970
    HOT DAMN, WHAT A COVER X______X
  • Christine Sandquist (eriophora)
    January 1, 1970
    This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.I love weird, squishy, biological scifi, and I was impressed by how perfectly Escaping Exodus delivered on this front. When I originally read the premise on Goodreads – “a city-size starship carved up from the insides of a space-faring beast” – I knew I had to get my hands on this book. I’ll admit that I came in feeling a hint of trepidation: what if the beast is relegated to being in the background? What if it’s a normal space This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.I love weird, squishy, biological scifi, and I was impressed by how perfectly Escaping Exodus delivered on this front. When I originally read the premise on Goodreads – “a city-size starship carved up from the insides of a space-faring beast” – I knew I had to get my hands on this book. I’ll admit that I came in feeling a hint of trepidation: what if the beast is relegated to being in the background? What if it’s a normal spaceship that’s only “alive” when it’s plot convenient? Etc., etc. Fortunately, we were wading through ichor and entrails from the very first page. My worries were utterly baseless. Nicky Drayden embraced every bit of icky organic goodness right from the start.The novel opens on one of our protagonists, Seske, cutting herself free from a cocoon filled with stasis fluid, and we only get squishier and more organic from there. Seske is the daughter of the Matris – the matriarch and leader of her culture and nation aboard the space beast. Her love interest and our other point of view character, Adala, comes from a long line of heart workers – literally, the families in charge of maintaining the beast’s heart by cutting away sores, lesions, and pests from the beast’s flesh to keep it healthy for its inhabitants. Adala has been trained from birth for this position, and her family’s legacy is braided into her hair to show the generations that came before her. However, she’s not guaranteed a position in the heart; the standards are both high and harsh, due to the great dangers involved in working in that particular organ. Every time the heart beats, the beast’s vein flood with ichor… washing away anyone who did not properly count the time between beats and who didn’t manage to cut a slit into the sides of the beast’s innards to anchor themselves against the flow. ‘Instinctually, I hold my breath, as we had done so many times during practice, though from the gasping all around me, not everyone has been so thoughtful. The oily flow grips at me, bids me to get washed away. I hug that little strip of flesh like it’s my closest friend, hoping my cut holds just a few seconds longer. But in all my fear, all my dread, something springs forth in my heart… a feeling that I’m in a place I’ve belonged all my life.’Despite these careful ministrations, acting as a host to a full civilization is incredibly stressful on the beast’s internal systems. Typically, the beasts begin to die after around 7-10 years, at which point they must move to a new one. The beast herds do not reproduce quickly enough to keep up with the demand for Seske’s ship and the other nations inhabiting them, which results in strife amongst the various space-beast-faring civilizations. The political and familial structures on the beast are fascinating, and the reader is shoved into them with little explanation. The social order is structured as a matriarchy, with Seske’s mother, the Matris, being in charge… with Seske in line to inherit, but at odds with her illegitimate and nameless sister, who has her own goals and plans to capture the throne. Sisterkin is not allowed to be a part of the family, but she’s Matris’ own biological child. Matris favors her given this blood connection, even if Seske is her heir by law. Sisterkin, as she is called, plots and schemes to take what she views as her rightful place within the ship’s hierarchy. ‘Sisterkin steps between us. “I can guide you, Seske. I know all the ways of the Matriarchy, all the Lines.” She smiles, though the gesture is more like the baring of teeth, the too-white teeth that haunt children’s dreams. Though she was born of Matris’s blood, she is not a part of our family and has no claim to our lines. As per the tenets of our ancestors, she cannot partake of our family teas, so she sips hot water from her dainty cups instead. Our head-father is not permitted to teach her, so Matris hires private tutors. Sisterkin is not allowed at our table, so Mother had an archipelago built where Sisterkin can dine with us without dining with us. Her hair grows freely upon her head, like a boundless sunburst, not the carefully braided knots of our line. Sisterkin has been given nothing, not even a true name. Sisterkin was Matris’s first abomination, and now there’s this surly beast she’s chosen.’Due to population concerns, the family units are large; each child has ten people considered their parents/family unit. Many terms, often left unexplained, are thrown at the reader. Even after finishing, I’m not entirely clear on what constitutes a heart mother, a will mother, or a tin uncle. It’s a little too opaque at times and the roles are not fully explained, though it certainly adds great flavor to the story. Science fiction and fantasy provide so many opportunities for authors to play with social structure, and far too few authors take advantage of that flexibility; it’s not an idea that can be explored to nearly the same degree in contemporary or historical fiction. It’s unique to SFF, and it brings me joy every time I see it. Given the matriarchal structure of the society, the narrative surrounding feminism is flipped. It is the men in this society who lack for power and political clout. They are expected to paint their faces, stay quiet, be seen but not heard. They cannot appear to have any power over the women in their lives, who are expected to know better and be the dominant personality. At one point, Seske is performing a bit of political espionage dressed up as a man; she notes how she’s culturally invisible, isn’t allowed into the same spaces as a woman, and discovers constraints on male behavior she didn’t even know existed. ‘I blink. My eyelids are so heavy, holding up to a dozen tiny gemstones each. My whole body feels like I’ve been dunked in slime, but my, how I glisten. I’ve never felt so bold, so beautiful. Doka made me practice my walk while mimicking his gestures. He spoke of calling upon the honor of my patriline, and now I am enjoying the fruits of my toil, no longer Seske Kaleigh, but Sesken Pmalamar, son of fathers.’There are many small touches in the prose that created a distinct voice for each of the different castes aboard the ship. The prose is neither purple nor workmanlike, but instead focuses on reflecting the social order of each character. The vernacular of the boneworkers is separate from the jargon of the heartworkers, and the speech of the Contour Class citizens at the top is refined and somewhat archaic-sounding in comparison. These details pull in the reader and highlight the differences between each social echelon – at the lowest level, the disposable grisette workers aren’t even allowed to speak with individuals outside their own class. As Adala is forced between these different groups, she encounters not only these linguistic differences, but also differences in how touch, privacy, and personal space are viewed. ‘I’m pulled into their rough huddle, laughing, joking, trying to seem like I’m relaxing, while studying their body cues and posture so I can learn to speak and act and think like they do.’The primary issue in this book is not that any plot line or cultural aspect was uninteresting, but rather that I felt none of them quite got the attention they deserved. A few key plot points felt a little half-baked, requiring some convoluted and out of character decisions to bring them about. Oftentimes, the situations Seske or Adala found themselves in or the decisions they made didn’t make much sense to me – it seemed like their decisions were driven by the plot rather than the plot being driven by their decisions. The precise point of the book was ambiguous, with too many aspects competing for attention. Was this a book about diminishing resources for generation ships? Was this a book about sexism? Was this a book about conservation? Or perhaps this was a book about political machinations? It was hard to tell what the author cared about most. If each aspect had been fully fleshed out, the novel would have felt significantly more cohesive and engaging. Many plot threads were left dangling or were hand-waved away as “solved!” in the conclusion without adequate supporting narrative. That said, the overall setting and structure of the book was more than enough to compensate for these issues, and the book as a whole was incredibly enjoyable and touched on many great ideas I haven’t seen presented in quite this way before.This book is an excellent choice for anyone hankering for a thoughtful look at discrimination in our own society wrapped up in a wonderfully biological package. Fans of Kameron Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha or Wildbow’s Twig web serial will find much to love in this exciting new afrofuturism addition to the biopunk genre.If you enjoyed this review, please consider reading others like it on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.
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  • Racheal
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars maybe? I LOVED the first two thirds of this for its weirdness and originality and delightfully disgusting body horror. It has fabulous world building! The story, which centers on a unique matriarchal society living inside a giant space beast, is quite unlike anything I've read before - there's so much shit and puke and oozing viscera all over the place.The final third, though, has to be one of the most hair pullingly frustrating things I've read in a long time. It just took 2.5 stars maybe? I LOVED the first two thirds of this for its weirdness and originality and delightfully disgusting body horror. It has fabulous world building! The story, which centers on a unique matriarchal society living inside a giant space beast, is quite unlike anything I've read before - there's so much shit and puke and oozing viscera all over the place.The final third, though, has to be one of the most hair pullingly frustrating things I've read in a long time. It just took such a huge and shockingly swift downturn in quality. Suddenly plot threads were left dangling all over the place, emotional development stalled, and character consistency went out the window (one example is(view spoiler)[ the entire plotline with Seske's sister, including the whole conspiracy and complete lack of consequences, the odd way that Seske reacts, the fact that Seske in any way trusts her in the conclusion, the way the sister just...disappears and is never referred to again?? (hide spoiler)])Overall I mostly think that the story was too ambitious for the space it had, with too many different competing ideas and none of them properly developed (one example of many is(view spoiler)[ the "rebellion" that comes out of nowhere and ends almost immediately (hide spoiler)]). It really needed at least another 100-200 pages to flesh out the latter part of the story, or alternately, it could have worked well as a solid novella if the focus had been narrowed slightly. Either would have been better than this messy, disjointed ending.I was also disappointing in the way nothing ever seems to stick; the story consistently insulates the reader from any intense emotions (of which there should be many given the events) and the general brutality of it all. But I wanted to feel all of that. Give me MORE BRUTALITY. I wish she'd pushed it to the max, or that it was categorized as YA so that at least I'd gone in with different expectations.Anywho. Yeah. I went to bed frustrated and had bad dreams, so I'm just going to stop now before I get even more ranty :/
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  • Alexandra
    January 1, 1970
    I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. A unique matriarchal society set in space and filled with sci-fi goodness and a tiny bit of horror concerning the idea of bodies. I liked the ideas behind the story and how the characters tried to race against time as the Sister wants to get power in her own hands. The lost star goes to the slightly YA feeling of the book. If it had more pages and it was set in the Adult spectrum of readers then it would be even more spectacula I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. A unique matriarchal society set in space and filled with sci-fi goodness and a tiny bit of horror concerning the idea of bodies. I liked the ideas behind the story and how the characters tried to race against time as the Sister wants to get power in her own hands. The lost star goes to the slightly YA feeling of the book. If it had more pages and it was set in the Adult spectrum of readers then it would be even more spectacular.
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  • Lesa Divine
    January 1, 1970
    I can't wait. I just got a email saying I won the Goodreads giveaway for this book.Too excited...
  • Beth Cato
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.Escaping Exodus is a space opera/generation ship book unlike any I have read before. Innovative, brilliant, outright weird at times, and fascinating in its execution--I struggled to get into it at first, because it was so different. Soon enough, though, everything began to click for me, and the rest of the book zoomed by. Descendants of Africa departed for the stars. Now, centuries onward, they rely on space-faring whale-like beings to keep them/>Escaping I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.Escaping Exodus is a space opera/generation ship book unlike any I have read before. Innovative, brilliant, outright weird at times, and fascinating in its execution--I struggled to get into it at first, because it was so different. Soon enough, though, everything began to click for me, and the rest of the book zoomed by. Descendants of Africa departed for the stars. Now, centuries onward, they rely on space-faring whale-like beings to keep them alive. They quite literally carve out cities within the bulk of the beast and reside there until the beast begins to die. Seske is heir, set to be the next leader in the matriarchy. Her best friend--and love--Adalla is of a lower caste, so they cannot marry. This is a polyamorous society that completely twists around gender expectations (which brought pleasant surprises all the way up to the end). The book bounces between their two viewpoints as they each discover the horrible truths behind the matriarchy's power and the status of their current starship.The worldbuilding is what really gripped me, once I got past my initial disorientation. The way Drayden describes the workers in the heart, and the manipulation of bone, and the way society is divided within the beast--wow. Seske, I wanted to slap at times, but she did grow up in the course of the book. There were some things brought in near the end that I wish could have been explored more, but overall, I like how things came together. The book is a wild ride through space. On a giant whale. I've had a thing for space whales since I played the RPG Final Fantasy II (IVj) at age 11, so of course, I had to love that part of the book most of all!
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  • Sharonda Isadora
    January 1, 1970
    Complex world buildingUnlikable charactersLikable charactersLack of character growthInteresting and creative story arcPacing of the story is fast to slowI was completely bored with Part 3I liked Adalla way more that I liked Sekse. Escaping Exodus has the remnants of a space opera with a tinge of horror. I was most interested in her idea of female to male hierarchy as I myself love stories as such and I'm also interested to see where authors go when they Complex world buildingUnlikable charactersLikable charactersLack of character growthInteresting and creative story arcPacing of the story is fast to slowI was completely bored with Part 3I liked Adalla way more that I liked Sekse. Escaping Exodus has the remnants of a space opera with a tinge of horror. I was most interested in her idea of female to male hierarchy as I myself love stories as such and I'm also interested to see where authors go when they decide to take on this trope. The story is told from two different POVs, Seske future leader of the people on this ship or "beast" and Adalla, I guess what you would call a worker on the "beast". Basically Earth is no more and now humans travel through space on Beasts, they live within these beast. There is a romantical element in EE as well as Seske and Adalla develop a relationship outside of them being best friends but keep in mind that hierarchy word I used earlier. Since Seske is tasked to be leader one day, a romance with Adalla is out of the question because she is what would be consider in today's term low class. As Seske struggles with her family issues AND secrets so does Adalla. There are aspects of the story outside of the romance that the girls must deal with, like keeping their new home and its habitants safe. I like the idea of what Ms. Drayden did with Escaping Exodus, its quite imaginative... and there is enough drama: secrets, betrayal, etc...etc. She did however loose me in some parts of the story especially the 3rd part which took a total 360 degree turn. There are unfinished plot holes as well. At the end of it all. I like Escaping Exodus but something felt like it was missing and I can't explain what that something was.Thank you to the publisher/author for the opportunity to read/review.
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  • Rana
    January 1, 1970
    Super weird and wonderful. One of the things I loved thinking about reading this was what if the people were all teeny tiny people and the beast was actually like human size? Like, imagine this same story but if the characters were all bacteria or viruses. Whoa, right? The visuals were all really stunning, could really imagine this crazy world inside the body. Plus, love the idea of heart murmurs as creatures you could keep as pets. Nicky Drayden does something rare, her stories are all super we Super weird and wonderful. One of the things I loved thinking about reading this was what if the people were all teeny tiny people and the beast was actually like human size? Like, imagine this same story but if the characters were all bacteria or viruses. Whoa, right? The visuals were all really stunning, could really imagine this crazy world inside the body. Plus, love the idea of heart murmurs as creatures you could keep as pets. Nicky Drayden does something rare, her stories are all super weird and have fantastical events and creatures but the stories and the characters are all very human and realized. For people who might struggle with strange settings, I would highly recommend Drayden.
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  • Kitty Marie
    January 1, 1970
    This book is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but the characterization and storyline had me consistently riveted. Finished the whole second half within a sitting. Even when imagery got murky, very out there, and almost beyond comprehension- I was always invested in the characters and happenings of this weird world. There is enthusiastic creativity in the telling of it, and astonishing development given the modest 300-some page count.One disclosure first, and something This book is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but the characterization and storyline had me consistently riveted. Finished the whole second half within a sitting. Even when imagery got murky, very out there, and almost beyond comprehension- I was always invested in the characters and happenings of this weird world. There is enthusiastic creativity in the telling of it, and astonishing development given the modest 300-some page count.One disclosure first, and something that may inform my thoughts on certain aspects- I haven’t read much science fiction. Liked much of what I’ve tried, but am still muchly a stranger to those shores. This is a sort of science fiction/speculative fiction/fantasy hybrid with a thrust toward experimental world building rather than space exploration.First, the writing style. First impression was positive. The narrative is told from two points of view with the main characters just entering adulthood. Though I’ve never seen it shelved as New Adult, I think this title could easily be ushered into that category due to the age of the main characters. This book is filled with terms unique to its world, presented on nearly every page. The writing feels thick due to this attention to detail and demands the reader to learn through context and process sometimes murky and otherworldly imagery. I finished this title in six hours but it felt longer and like it would consume more energy than a more rhythmical and flowy read would. Not a bad writing style by any means, but I could see it being too dense for some. What I do like is how eventful the pages are, to an almost chaotic degree late in the book where the author has so many ideas and pulls them off at a faster pace. The first half of this book is noticeably more orderly than the second half.Not related to the technical good and bad but I feel it’s important to inform about sooner rather than later- this is a weird read. Almost challengingly so, with some gross passages and nearly inexplicable customs. This title takes place far, far in the future- where humanity and ways of life have evolved to an otherworldly degree. Cultural customs, food, ways of showing affection, pets, all sorts of nitty-gritty things are different in this world. Even simple travel involves characters navigating the body and flesh of a giant space creature. However, I loved how the things I didn’t like juxtaposed with what worked for a fascinating effect, encouraging one to empathize more with the world. An example of this, there is a space monster baby that probes one of the main character’s facial orifices as a way of bonding. I was pretty grossed out by the related descriptions but said baby is also an innocent creature whose life is being threatened. It still reaches out the heroine, perhaps not understanding that her species has been hurting it. I grew to feel for the strange little guy and wanted the main characters to successfully protect it.About the relationships in this book. There is some romance. Not central to the story, but it’s there. Some enemies-to-lovers, friends-to-lovers, friends-to-enemies, starcrossed, basically all the stuff I happen to like was somehow included and a huge surprise to find. The otherworldly quality remains though and makes things like the intimacy between the characters come off in a very odd manner. But somehow I was really out here shipping one of the main characters (Seske) with everybody. Seske falls for two characters (a man and woman) who are treated with shockingly equal care and chemistry. Theirs isn’t a love triangle because the culture of the world here normalizes a sort of bi polyamory. I’ve actually rarely-to-never seen this done in any form of media, adding even more to this title’s uniqueness.Winding back a bit to characterization and the points-of-view, Seske and Adala are the young heroines of this tale and raised in a matriarchal society. I really enjoyed how different these characters are from one another, harmonizing to provide a fuller view of the world.Seske is of noble lineage and her chapters deal with revealing the workings of their hierarchial society. She is quite privileged, but also expected to shoulder the great responsibility of directing their world in more harrowing times and perhaps breaking away from tradition. She’s also a flawed character who makes some poor decisions. Adala is a girl of a lower caste and class, considered by many to be amidst the disposable. Through her we grow to understand how the people of the world are suffering and their need for change.Adala’s chapters are more action and adventure-oriented. Adala and Seske are the main couple of the book and their relationship has major ups and downs due to their differences. I liked both of them. The dual narration encourages an understanding for both sides, even when they can’t fully understand each other.Why You Should Try It – Bizarre but creative and inventive world-building. Vivid characterization and motivations. Fantastical imagery and space opera drama. The romance is of a surprising variety. Impressively full-scale storyline befitting a 600-page novel, accomplished within the tighter framework of 330 pages. Daringly experimental and unlike any title I’ve read before.Why You Might Not Like It – Some imagery is a challenge to come to grips with or even mind-boggling and/or gross in nature. While I liked the brisker pace of later chapters, the frenzy can come off as messy. Seske, one of the main characters, makes some poor decisions that can annoy.Note : Many thanks to Netgalley, HarperCollins Publishers, and Harper Voyager for providing me an e-ARC of this title for review.
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  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    1/11/19A huge thank you to Harper Voyager US for gifting me a copy of Escaping Exodus! This is a space opera set in a time in which earth is all but a distant memory. With extrasolar planets still out of reach, the remains of humanity has managed to survive by creating colonies within humongous space beasts, leaving after mining all their resources. The book follows Seske, a girl first in line to the throne of her clan. After having just found a new beast to inhabit, their new home is plagues with viole 1/11/19A huge thank you to Harper Voyager US for gifting me a copy of Escaping Exodus! This is a space opera set in a time in which earth is all but a distant memory. With extrasolar planets still out of reach, the remains of humanity has managed to survive by creating colonies within humongous space beasts, leaving after mining all their resources. The book follows Seske, a girl first in line to the throne of her clan. After having just found a new beast to inhabit, their new home is plagues with violent tremors. She teams up with her best friend Idalla to find out the cause, only to discover the grim truths about the price of life in the void.This was actually the first space opera I have ever read and I really enjoyed it! The book is written from both the perspective of Seske and Idalla and I liked how distinct their characters were. What really interested me were both the characters and the structure of society. Depending on which class you belong to the value of your life differs, and this was a major driving force of the book. Furthermore the society is matriarchal and I dare say that was a hell of a twist! There aren’t any men in power and lead rather restricted lives. The book definitely gave me a lot of material to think about, so I’m very eager to go over my notes again and write a full review. Overall, I really enjoyed the experience :)Video review to come!You can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
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  • Divena
    January 1, 1970
    I was glad to see adult sci-fi by a black author so I eagerly requested this book. Ive never read soace opera and this one had the twist of the characters flaoting through space in a giant floating beast versus a ship.There's so many strange occurrences in this story that I'm at a lost for words. At times it was hard to look away but I can't say it was particularly satisfying.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Daidi’s bells! What a weird, wickedly funny, and ultimately empathetic ride.(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Netgalley. Trigger warning for slavery, mass murder, rape, and animal abuse. This review contains some general spoilers about the world building - so please skip it if you want to read the book with fresh eyes.)“She?” I ask, eyes wide. Never in all my dizzy dreams had I thought that our beast was something other than a thing, an animate object, a sustainer of life. The/>“She?”/>(Full Daidi’s bells! What a weird, wickedly funny, and ultimately empathetic ride.(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Netgalley. Trigger warning for slavery, mass murder, rape, and animal abuse. This review contains some general spoilers about the world building - so please skip it if you want to read the book with fresh eyes.)“She?” I ask, eyes wide. Never in all my dizzy dreams had I thought that our beast was something other than a thing, an animate object, a sustainer of life. The idea intrigues me. Scares me some, too.We are careful, taking only what the other offers, knowing that a connection like this is deeper than either of us can fully comprehend. He reads poetry to my spleen. I tell fairy tales to his bile ducts. The inside of his navel is a vast, unexplored desert. He lounges upon the cushion of my lips. His desires rise, and I pretend not to notice, diving right into the pool of tears caught in the corner of his eye. I don’t make a single splash. And while I swim laps, he hikes across the boundless expanse of my molars, and then I’m climbing up his chest hairs. We’re curious, playful. Adventuresome. The landscapes of our bodies like the foreign world we orbit. Is this how the beasts communicate with one another? A life without secrets? Becoming intimately familiar with everyone you touch?“All throughout our history, we sing of two kinds of women ... those born into power and those who disrupt power. I intend on being the latter.”Excavation, extinction, exodus: these are the phases that define humanity's existence hundreds (thousands?) of years in the future.Forced to flee a dying earth, humans took to the skies, eking out a rugged existence; searching, in vain, for a habitable planet. Instead, they found the Zenzee: enormous, tentacled animals whose rough hides and bodily secretions allow them to soar through space, as if it was water. Social creatures through and through, they travel in great herds, communicating through touch and flashing lights. Humans being, well, human, we did what we do best: attacked, dominated, conquered, oppressed. Captured, consumed, culled. In short, we made the Zenzee our ships; our homes. When a new beast is taken, a contingent of workers is sent ahead to make its barely-living zombie carcass habitable (excavation). Its hide is harvested for leather; its flora reshaped into fields; its parasites, harvested for food. Bones are reshaped to provide infrastructure. Every part of the beast is twisted, bent and broken to serve out needs. And what of humanity? We reshape ourselves into parasites. And we are greedy ones, at that: beasts with a natural lifespan of thousands of years, we deplete within a decade (extinction). Then we simply repeat the cycle again, killing and abandoning one animal after the next (exodus). So it has been for roughly six hundred and fifty years. But the newest ruler - a young woman named Seske (or Matriling Kaleig; Seske Ashad Nedeema Orshidi Midikoen Ugodon Niosoke Kaleigh if you're feeling especially stuffy) - is poised to change things. She's not the only renegade on the ship, though: also working to effect change is Adalla, Seske's childhood bestie (and soul mate), a lowly beastworker who Seske was forced to shun once she reached marriageable age; Sekse's betrothed, a man named Doka; and Wheytt, one of the few male Accountacy Guards.I almost passed on Escaping Exodus. As an ethical vegan (read: vegan for animal rights reasons), the thought of plunging into a make believe world where animals are routinely and brutally oppressed in such a way ... let's just say, it's not my idea of relaxing escapism. But I also love interrogating pop culture from an animal rights perspective, so there you go. And, y'all, I am so glad I made the leap. Escaping Exodus is a wildly inventive, wickedly funny, twisty turny science fiction story that, at its core, has a giant bleeding heart (both literally and metaphorically). This book is brimming with compassion and examples of humanity at its best. Escaping Exodus is told from the alternating perspectives of Seske and Adalla, as each girl hovers on the precipice of adulthood. For Seske, this means taking a wife or husband - the first of eight. You see, in order to keep the ship's population in check, family units are strictly regulated: "Matris Tendasha made the Rule of Tens that helped to counteract the population explosion after the Great Mending. Ten fingers.” Pai opens his hands and wriggles his long, slender fingers, patinaed with the deepest shade of orange. “Ten persons in the family unit. Three men, six women, and a child shared between them all. Ten for Tendasha.”Seske's is a matriarchal monarchy, and she's next in line to rule after Matris, one of her six mothers, passes away. As such, her choice of mate is especially important (read: political, calculating, stifling). Yet Seske's position - her very existence - is but a fluke of nature. Seske was the second child conceived in her family unit, but arrived four months early, thus beating Sisterkin by a hair. By all rights, Seske's younger sister ("sister" being a slur in this culture), deemed so unimportant that she's not even granted a name, should be the next ruler. Paradoxically, and by a mere technicality, she should have been killed upon birth, and fed back to the ship. But Matris's weakness may prove to be Seske's downfall, as Sisterkin plots against her in the background (I said this was a twisty turner thriller, did I not?).Meanwhile, a natural talent for sensing the rhythms of the beast's heart scores Adalla a coveted promotion to caring for the creature's heart. But life comes at you fast, as Adalla wryly observes, and her grief at losing Seske quickly spirals out of control, eventually landing her in the slums of the boneworkers. Vapors aren't the only thing whispering through the working class; before she can say "Daidi’s bells!," Adalla is fomenting her own kind of revolution.What's interesting is how each woman arrives at the realization that their society is corrupt, built on the broken backs and brutalized bodies of others, rotting from within. Early in the story, when she's off getting into mischief as plucky heroines are wont to do, Seske accidentally stumbles upon the womb of "their beast" - and it is not empty. The beast that Matris has chosen for them is pregnant, and the fetus is draining precious resources, further taxing the Zenzee's already injured body ... and hastening another exodus. The workers are trying in vain to kill the fetus. And this is when the young Zenzee reaches out to Seske for help. Through her interactions with the fetus - and, later, an adult Zenzee - Seske comes to accept that which she already knows, if only subconsciously: the Zenzee are sentient animals. They are capable of feeling pain and suffering; of experiencing joy and happiness. They form bonds and love their children, their mates, their friends. And they are forced to sit back and watch as we capture and colonize their loved ones. Because of the intimate way in which they communicate, they feel their loved ones' pain as acutely as if it was their own. Their lives predate human existence; yet, as we continue to deplete their herd, they likely will not survive humanity. What gives us the right to put our survival above their own?Adalla, for her part, comes to epiphany along two parallel roads. Caring for her heart, cutting away murmurs, learning to anticipate an arrhythmic beat: Adalla forms an intimate connection with the beast, which eventually results in her humanizing their would-be vessel. The beast transitions from an "it" to a "her"; a something to a someone. From there, it's just a short hop to accepting that the animal has her own thoughts, feelings, and desires - not the least of which is the will to live.The second road reveals yet another crack in the foundation of Adalla's society. The grisette - colloquially known as a "bucket waif," for the mindless, repetitive job she performs - assigned to Adalla looks achingly familiar. After some digging, Adalla discovers an especially nasty open secret: in order to excavate a beast as quickly as possible, slave laborers are grown in vats - and then destroyed when their services are no longer needed. (Dissolved into fertilizer for the ship, in an especially grisly scene.) Skilled beastworkers and their husbands are paid a handsome sum to "donate" their eggs and sperm. In a society where siblings are unheard of, Adalla's "brood sister" is destined to become plant food. So while the world Drayden imagines here is rife with suffering and oppression, there is hope: in Seske, in Adalla, and in the world they want to rebuild on the ashes of the old one. But complications about, as they always do, and Escaping Exodus has some pretty jarring twists late in the game. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the ending; we certainly didn't land where I expected. But it's an ending that's replete with hope, trust, and empathy, and that's good enough for me.I also thought it a bold choice to make Seske's society a matriarchy. It's not unusual to think (hope?) that a society ruled by women would be a kinder, more peaceful and equitable one. Yet interrogate this idea further and you'll see that it rests on some gender essentialist bullshit. As a whole, women are not naturally more compassionate or nurturing than men; rather, these are the traits that society fosters in women. Women can be just as brutal, selfish, and hateful as men. Why wouldn't Seske's culture be marked by stark class differences, poverty, inequality, slavery, sexism, and other forms of oppression, when women are in charge ... yet still place a premium on stereotypically masculine traits? Even more interesting, imho, is how Seske's ship came to adopt a matriarchy. As we discover at the end of the book, hers is but one of seven surviving ships from Earth, each having evolved along separate lines, developing its own unique culture, rule of governance, etc. How did women seize control of her ship? And why are the citizens predominantly (or exclusively) Black? How did b influence a, if at all? I am dying for a prequel!Social justice and animal friendly plot lines aside, Escaping Exodus is a just a damn good book. The world building is simply breathtaking; crafting a sky-faring creature into a ship is hella inspired (if heartbreaking), and the descriptions of the ship's interior are fascinating. Seske's encounters with the Zenzee - arguably more humane than us - are marvelous. These are some of the most beautiful and bizarre passages I've ever encountered. Really mind-bending stuff. Think: Octavia E. Butler. And Drayden's sense of humor? Truly gross-out wicked. I mean, talk about your body horror! Between Seske tricking her new groom Doka into deflowering a gel puppet, and Seske expelling a Zenzee fetus from her vag, there are plenty of WTF moments that will either make you hysterical-laugh, or else chuck the book across the room in disgust. It's not for everyone, okay. http://www.easyvegan.info/2019/11/05/...
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  • Maya
    January 1, 1970
    Nicky Drayden has the weirdest imagination of any writer I've read. And I love her for it. In this sci-fi novel, humans travel space inside gigantic beasts, slowly harvesting their resources until they die and the humans capture the next beast. That means that almost all of the action happens within a living creature. Drayden gets to use words like "tentacle-cooch" and write sentences like, "You have to see for yourselves... Meet me at the second ass tonight." (I wonder if Drayden wrote this boo Nicky Drayden has the weirdest imagination of any writer I've read. And I love her for it. In this sci-fi novel, humans travel space inside gigantic beasts, slowly harvesting their resources until they die and the humans capture the next beast. That means that almost all of the action happens within a living creature. Drayden gets to use words like "tentacle-cooch" and write sentences like, "You have to see for yourselves... Meet me at the second ass tonight." (I wonder if Drayden wrote this book just so she could write that line.)I'm always a bit in awe of Drayden's main characters. Authors often write bookish heroines who are introverted and thoughtful. Not so here. Drayden's protagonists are rash, prone to putting their feet in their mouths, and decidedly not drawn to books. It's refreshing to meet them and it's satisfying to watch them defy expectations, step up in a crisis, and succeed.And there's more! The dominant culture is a matriarchy in which men are seen as less intelligent and more sensitive. There are two women in love. And there's even some human-alien intimacy. The transitions were a bit jerky towards the end of the book and the ending was more abrupt than I would have liked. But that's a quibble. If you want to read about strong women in completely unexpected situations, this is your book.
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  • Thistle & Verse
    January 1, 1970
    I got an ARC in exchange for a review. Opinions are my own. Drayden has created an imaginative playground of a world that allows her to showcase her strengths: her creativity and her humor. I was fascinated by the social orders and mechanics of the beast described within the book. The chemistry between Seske/ Adalla and their rival love interests was believable, and I became heavily invested in certain relationships working out. While the narrators Seske and Adalla felt like fully fleshed out, d I got an ARC in exchange for a review. Opinions are my own. Drayden has created an imaginative playground of a world that allows her to showcase her strengths: her creativity and her humor. I was fascinated by the social orders and mechanics of the beast described within the book. The chemistry between Seske/ Adalla and their rival love interests was believable, and I became heavily invested in certain relationships working out. While the narrators Seske and Adalla felt like fully fleshed out, distinct human beings, some of the side characters felt flat or trope-y. There was one antagonist and a side character in particular who I felt like could have easily been given more depth, and I wanted to know more about but didn't. Book includes some social commentary, and while the basics of this alternate society (polyamorous, matriarchal, utilitarian) were believable to me, some of the commentary felt forced or heavy handed because it seemed too based in our world and not the one Drayden had created. The ending felt a bit muddled and rushed to me, but on the whole, an immersing, highly enjoyable read.
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  • Mila
    January 1, 1970
    The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review. Wow, what a boring and confusing book. It reminded me a lot of "Space Opera" by Catherine M.Valente and in a bad way because I despised that book. If it weren't arc, I might've dnfed this novel altogether.
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  • Rike @ RikeRandom
    January 1, 1970
    This was … fun that turned rather weird and had some holes and loose ends. Full review to follow.
  • Dianthaa (Pia)
    January 1, 1970
    So weird and organic and interesting, loved it, RTC
  • John Mendez
    January 1, 1970
    SPOILER FREE REVIEWI personally liked this book. The author was very daring, taking on a broad-scoped project and trying to tell a sweeping story on a small scale. This will probably be in my Top 10 best books of the year. However for all the fact that I respected this book’s quirks, this book had flaws. Let’s get this review started. Bear in mind that I’m approaching this review as one author critiquing another author’s work, so I’m going to get a little technical.Concep SPOILER FREE REVIEWI personally liked this book. The author was very daring, taking on a broad-scoped project and trying to tell a sweeping story on a small scale. This will probably be in my Top 10 best books of the year. However for all the fact that I respected this book’s quirks, this book had flaws. Let’s get this review started. Bear in mind that I’m approaching this review as one author critiquing another author’s work, so I’m going to get a little technical.Concept and ExecutionHumanity has fled earth, and now the survivors live inside massive space-faring alien beasts (a la Starcraft Zerg). Human kind enters these beasts and alter their anatomical structure to make them more suitable for human habitation. Cool! This takes the whole ‘bio-spaceship’ to a whole new level. Also really disgusting, when characters take knives to their ships and reorganize the biological anatomy of the animals they live in.In short, to survive humankind has become invasive parasites inside larger animals, modifying the beasts until the beast dies and they’re forced to move. I thought it was both gristly and cool. Frankly this was one of the best concepts I’ve ever read, and the execution upon that concept was pretty good. It wasn’t perfectly executed, but it was better than average.At times I got a ‘Bloodborne’ vibe from all the body horror and tentacles in this book.There are several different civilizations inhabiting the beasts. Adalla and Seske live in an unnamed one of them. They are dark-skinned teenagers who have an illicit love affair. Their affair is illicit not because they are of the same sex (woman+woman relationships and poly relationships are considered to be the norm in their civilization) but because they come from two different castes. Seske is the future matriarch of their civilization (aka the Princess-heir), while Adalla is a lowly beastworker (beastworker= laborer who remodels beast anatomy to make it fit for human habitation). The lowest caste are the grisettes, slave labor with a mysterious source (More on the grisettes in the spoiler section).This book has a heavy caste vs caste theme. This was a sociological novel, where different castes strive for different things. The poor want to make the castes equal, while the rich… well honestly I don’t know what the rich want besides maintaining their power. The author didn’t really do a good job of giving the rich caste a nuanced viewpoint.Ghosts and spirits haunt the beasts, endangering the lives of people who live there.This theme wasn’t very well implemented. I could see what the author was going for, but she didn’t quite pull it off. More in the spoiler section.Wasting Diseases and DeathWell implemented. Humankind are parasites in the beasts they inhabit, causing them to sicken and die by their mere presence. Overtime as Seske’s people inhabit a beast, the beast literally starts to decay around them. The walls leak blood and pus and the like, super gross. Metaphor for modern day mankind’s mistreatment of our earth.Individuality vs. CommunityMassive spoilers, so I’ll talk about this later. But my overall verdict for this is interesting but I was left scratching my head at the themes the author was trying to pull off.PacingSloooow start. The plot started rolling at the 25% mark. Everything up to that point was needed stage setting. However the author could have re-ordered chapters so the plot started rolling at the 10% mark or the 15% mark.Final middle 75%. It was a slow, but acceptably slow. The plot was happening at a steady pace so I never got disinterested.This book is a nonviolent, noncombat novel, which is a source of some boredom on my part. This book has very little/no combat/violence so the pacing has to be carried by plot advancements and characterization alone, which can be a heavy lift. A lot of scifi/fantasy books rely on combat to speed up the pacing in what would otherwise be dull novels with little plot or characterization. At times this worked in this book’s favor, helping this book fit squarely in the ‘Sociological SciFi’ niche, but at times it was dull.CharacterizationThis was my second biggest problem with the book. The two protagonists were Adalla and Seske. Their characterization was a bit thin on the ground. I have little clue what their personalities are beyond being in love with one another and trying their best to make their civilization a better place.Of the two I liked Adalla better. Quite simply she was thrown through the ringer over the course of this book and that made her more likeable. She had some agency, but not enough.Seske was an interesting character. Major spoilers. Full review later on.And finally, we have the problem with Sisterkin. I liked Sisterkin as a character, moreso than either Adalla or Seske, but I can’t discuss the problem here cause of spoilers. Look below.PlotThe plot was a bit of a mess, honestly. It was a functional mess- the book was readable and I had fun at moments (about 25% of the book was fun, 60% was satisfyingly readable and the remaining 15% was rough). However if I were the one to write this I would have had a heart attack during the editing stages trying to unknot all this book’s issues.Now perhaps it’s possible my dislike here is because of subjective criticism and not objective criticism, so don’t take my word as gospel here.The narrative lacked cohesion between the plot arcs. What were the plot arcs? Here they are.Adalla and Seske’s romance (also their side romances)Adalla and Seske start the book as two teens in love. Honestly I never really understood why they were in love. They spent the vast majority of the book apart so I (the reader) never got the opportunity to witness any chemistry between them.Seske and Wheytt’s relationship was better. It inhabited that area of ‘what could have been had these two gotten together?’ They had a little chemistry together, and would have had a lot together if things had the opportunity to take off.Seske and Doka’s relationship was the best of Seske’s relationships. They had real chemistry and character dev together. But in the end the author decided that Adalla and Seske were the OTP so this angle of the love-pentangle came to nothing. (OTP= Official True Pair)Adalla and Leisze was Adalla’s ‘I broke up with my sorta toxic ex, go on a drunken bender with a random woman I met in a bar’ romance. And, oddly enough, it worked. Adalla+Leisze had the most healthy, consenting relationship out of all four listed here, and Adalla learned some solid life lessons. It didn’t last, unfortunately, because of the whole OTP thing.Sisterkin and Matris’s AnticsMatris was the old Matriarch (Seske’s mother) and Sisterkin is Seske’s younger sister. Matris wants Sisterkin to inherit the throne instead of Seske, and Sisterkin is ambitious enough to want it too.Together the two of them get into all sorts of hijinks. No spoilers, because these two together are massive motivators of the plot. More later.Saving the beast and saving Seske’s peopleSeske wants to save the beast, and Adalla wants to save the grisettes. No spoilers till later.Politicing at home and abroadAgain, spoilersSo what was my problem going on here? Well for starters, a lot of these plot arcs had very little payoff. The polticing plot arc kinda went nowhere, same with most of the romance sub-plot arcs. The sisterkin/matris arc had a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion.HERE’S THE MAIN TAKEAWAY: If I were to diagnose a problem I think that there was just too much going on here. The author should have narrowed down the scope of the book to three or four plot arcs at most. As is, a lot of the plot arcs wound up being halfbaked.Prose and Narrative StructureThe prose was functional. I don’t remember ever being wowed by gloriously beautiful prose. I think this is for the best: the prose’s lucidity helped the grossness of the biopunk setting shine throughThe authors narrative style never quite clicked with me. As mentioned, some of the plot arcs wound up being underserved. This manifested in abrupt movement of plot points, skipping seemingly important middle steps in favor of moving on. This book would have been well served either being longer or split into two books, or shorter with entire plot arcs removed.Setting and WorldbuildingBio-punk spaceship, colonizing the guts of an alien space-faring cephalopod. With ecological scifi elements. Also ghosts. Sign me up! One of the most creative settings I’ve read bar noneI had three problems, though.The author never gave the ‘beasts’ a species name. It’s super weird just calling them ‘beasts’ all the time.The author never explained where gravity in these beasts come from. They surely can’t be large enough that they have their own gravity, so gravity must come from somewhere.The author never explained where the beasts get their calories from. The author says they eat space rocks and minerals, and last I checked space rocks and minerals don’t exactly have an enormous calorie content.SPOILER HEAVY DISCUSSIONConcept and ExecutionGhosts and spirits in this setting were a little half-baked. The author was trying to go for a ‘ghosts as psychic visions from the beasts humanity is parasitizing,’ sort of thing, but in the end the spirits just weren’t commonplace enough to have deep plot relevance. Cool in concept, the execution just wasn’t there.The concept of using disease and death as a metaphor was a good one. I liked the symmetry of the old Matriarch falling ill and dying partway through the book, same as the beast grows ill as the story progresses.Individuality vs CommunityHoo boy, here we go. The grisette caste are nameless, disposable slave labor. Grown in tanks and used until they have no further purpose, at which point they’re liquified and turned into fertilizer. They are the dirty secret which allows Seske’s civilization to be so productive. They stand as a metaphor for mistreatment of a laborforce (slave or otherwise). All in all, if you’re going to do Sociological SciFi this is a great inclusion.HOWEVER we’ve got a problem, and her name is Khasina. Except her name isn’t Khasina, because she’s not allowed to have a name. Everyone calls her Sisterkin, a slur word. Seske’s despised younger sister is in many ways a parallel to the grisette caste, being nameless and forced into servitude.Sisterkin is the main villain in this novel, and from the start Seske hates her. In a flashback Seske recalls Sisterkin choosing the name Khasina, a name she isn’t allowed to have. And Seske HATES Sisterkin because of it. Deliberately or not, Seske is expressing the same bigotry the grisette caste endures against her sister Sisterkin.Sisterkin (Seske’s sister) mirrors Adalla’s unname griselle sister, providing both high and low parallels for the same thing.I found this aspect of the novel fascinating. More on this later, when I talk about Seske more. But for now, I’ll say that it creeped me out a little. CharacterizationSeskeI’m not sure what to think about Seske. The author gave Seske all the trappings of a standard ‘hopeful, nonconforming ideolog who doesn’t fit in with her strict society and wants to reform it’ trope protagonist. At first that she followed that trope… but then things got weird. I think she was an Unreliable NarratorSeske started doing bad things, behaving like an Unreliable Narrator (Unreliable Narrator= a Point of View Character who colors the narrative of the story in such a way as to skew the perspective of the audience to make the audience believe something which might not be true).Seske, for example, publicly dumped Adalla in front of all the upper crust of her civilization, breaking Adalla’s heart hardcore.Marrying a guy, and then on their wedding night instead of making love with him Seske deliberately getting him so drunk that he wouldn’t notice he’s not having sex with her but instead with a doll.This event played out to be sort of rape-y.Seske sold a hundred grisettes into slavery to a bunch of racist bastards.In the end this trade doesn’t go through, but still. Seske is as brutal as she is pragmatic. She feels bad about it, but that doesn’t stop her.Seske tortured Adalla and twenty other people.She had the choice of either torture or execution so she chose torture. We’re supposed to think Seske’s a good person because she chose the lighter sentence… but it’s still torture.And the cherry on top was authorizing the culling of vast swaths of her people to prevent overpopulation.There’s no way you can spin this that this is a good-guy move.But here’s the thing: the author didn’t present Seske as an Unreliable Narrator. The author presented Seske time and again as a vaguely hapless noncomformist who’s doing her best and just sort of stumbling along from crisis to crisis. Seske goes from being somewhat bumbling at the beginning, to becoming a brutal monarch-dictator who’s public name is ‘The Cruel.’ As a character arc it was subtle, until the change hit you in the face.I don’t think the author intended Seske to be perceived as being evil. You see, at the same time as all of this evil stuff is going on, Seske is doing her Disney Princess routine, psychically bonding with the beast(s) and trying to save the beast species out of the goodness of her heart. I’m serious: her motive was ‘the beasts are sentient and have emotions and culture, we shouldn’t be killing them.’ And a few pages later she’s authorizing poisoning vast swaths of her people.In short, Seske was following in her mother Matris’s footsteps, but going double or nothing in terms of cruelty. I liked her character arc.But Seske’s not perfect. For the first 2/3s of the book she’s honestly a bit boring. She’s blown along on the wind, not making her own choices but instead doing what’s expected of her. I wish she had more goals, motives and drives early on.Additionally I didn’t like how after Seske LITERALLY TORTURED ADALLA, Seske and Adalla got back together at the end of the book. Like WTF. Talk about a toxic relationship. Also talk about a lack of consequences for a character’s actions.Sisterkin, on the other hand, I liked wholeheartedly. She has a lot of personality traits which make her likable: disciplined, hardworking, motivated, agency, drive, the underdog and a solid goal.Sure, all of these likable traits were turned towards murdering Seske and becoming the Matriarch, but damn if Sisterkin doesn’t deserve to be matriarch. Sisterkin was given nothing in life, but she almost managed to manipulate and connive her way into power.Seske, by comparison, went through life listlessly, without putting in any real effort into her studies.
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  • Nicole Field
    January 1, 1970
    Lesbian space adventure that my library has in stock.
  • McKenzie Peterson
    January 1, 1970
    This novel was a wild ride. I really like how it tipped the gender norms completely upside down. Men needed to have guards to protect their honor. Bwahahahahahaha. Also, the world building was really unique. I'm not sure if I would want to live inside of a space beast, but the idea is interesting. I actually just wish there was more of about the first 80 percent or so of the book. I wanted even more world building and more of a story. I sort of wish this was a three book trilogy with a lot of bu This novel was a wild ride. I really like how it tipped the gender norms completely upside down. Men needed to have guards to protect their honor. Bwahahahahahaha. Also, the world building was really unique. I'm not sure if I would want to live inside of a space beast, but the idea is interesting. I actually just wish there was more of about the first 80 percent or so of the book. I wanted even more world building and more of a story. I sort of wish this was a three book trilogy with a lot of buildup and angst. I feel like it could have been a little more successful if there was more, this just felt a little rush and a bit like a teaser for me. I would highly recommend this if you want some science fiction, with a little commentary about modern day issues, and a dash of WTF!?!?!?!?!
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  • Marlene
    January 1, 1970
    Originally published at Reading RealityI don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up Escaping Exodus. Space opera, certainly. And I definitely got that – just not in the usual way.But this particular space opera has a kind of a biopunk feel, and, speaking of feels, it felt like a story about the differences between parasitism and symbiosis. It also gives a tiny glimpse into all the myriad possibilities of ways that humanity can take a good idea and send it down many, many virt Originally published at Reading RealityI don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up Escaping Exodus. Space opera, certainly. And I definitely got that – just not in the usual way.But this particular space opera has a kind of a biopunk feel, and, speaking of feels, it felt like a story about the differences between parasitism and symbiosis. It also gives a tiny glimpse into all the myriad possibilities of ways that humanity can take a good idea and send it down many, many virtual rabbit holes of disasters and bad decisions. Epically bad decisions.Oh, and there’s a bit, just a tiny bit, of actually relevant tentacle sex. Now that WAS a surprise.The story is told from two perspectives that begin close together – diverge widely and wildly – and then come back together at the end. Terribly scarred and terribly scared, but still determined to find their own way forward.At the beginning, Seske and Adalla are girls on the cusp of womanhood. They have been children, but as the story opens they are forced to take their first steps into adulthood – and away from each other.Seske is the daughter of the Matris, the leader, ruler and queen of their generation ship. Adalla is the child of one of the worker castes. And there are definitely castes and classes aboard this ship, as well as a permanent underclass and even the equivalent of untouchables. All workers, even the most skilled, are interchangeable and disposable, at least according to the ruling Contour class.The class system reminds me of the “worms” in Medusa Uploaded. And their treatment does lead to similar results.Burgeoning adulthood means that Seske has to take her place at her mother’s side, and Adalla must make a place for herself among the workers. They are expected to leave the friendship that has blossomed into love behind and take up their adult responsibilities.That’s where this story veers into fascinating directions. Because their generation ship isn’t flying through space to a potential “new Earth” even though that WAS the plan when all the ships set out generations ago.Instead, they have become space parasites, latching their ship onto giant space-faring beasts and cannibalizing all of the beast’s energy, organs and organisms until it is a dry husk, then moving on to the next.And they’re dying. The beasts are individually dying quickly, but their species is dying out. And they’ll take their human parasites with them.Unless Seske and Adalla, separately and together, find another way.Escape Rating B: This is a story that is filled with metaphors for current conditions on Earth and also weaves a fascinating tale of journeys to the stars and all the ways that they can go wrong. Or that humans can do wrong. Or perhaps a bit of both.At the same time, it feels like this would have been a stronger book if it had had a bit more space in which to develop its world. What we see is amazing and weird and different, but we’re kept at a bit of a remove – at least from the atrocities committed by the privileged classes.That may be the result of the choice of narrators. Seske, the heir to the “throne” has been an indulged child until the book begins. She’s been protected from all of the terrible secrets and lies, murders and machinations, that her mother has used to maintain her position. That protection gives her a fresh perspective, and allows her to see the rot that supports her mother’s rule.But she’s been very insulated, and we get a lot more about her rivalry with her sister than we do about how things work, and don’t, and ought to. The way her sister is treated and how that situation came about is brutal and messy and we don’t get nearly enough explanation.The society is female-dominated, reproduction-restricted, and polygamous. Group marriage is the norm, and families consist of nine adults raising a single child. But I never did quite understand how the relationship between the adults in the group marriage actually worked. Or didn’t.That the extremely limited resources meant that each marriage could only have one child made sense, but one child per nine adults will result in a diminishing population over time – even without the extremely hazardous conditions that the workers labor under. The female domination of this society is interesting and used to comment on all sorts of things but it’s never explained how they got that way. And we do eventually discover that there are other ships and some are male dominated – and we don’t know how they got that way either. Not that they didn’t make plenty, but different, mistakes along their way.The history of this diaspora is only hinted at. The hints are fascinating and I wish we learned more.Adalla’s story feels better developed than Seske’s, because Adalla has the longer and harder journey. It’s through Adalla that we get to see how the workers really live – and die. Adalla herself rises high within the worker castes, and then falls to the lowest of the low.In the end, both Seske’s exposure of the corruption and Adalla’s rebellion against it lead them to the same place – trying to free themselves and the beasts from an endless cycle of destruction that is killing them all.
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  • Kend
    January 1, 1970
    Happy book birthday to Escaping Exodus!Here's where I really wish half-star ratings were possible, but I'm erring on the side of going *up* a half-star simply because I think this book is daring and different and doing some uniquely weird and hard-to-accomplish things with the material.To be frank, I'm not really sure how and where to start my review, other than to offer some comparisons. While I was reading this book, I was reminded often of Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series, which truthfu Happy book birthday to Escaping Exodus!Here's where I really wish half-star ratings were possible, but I'm erring on the side of going *up* a half-star simply because I think this book is daring and different and doing some uniquely weird and hard-to-accomplish things with the material.To be frank, I'm not really sure how and where to start my review, other than to offer some comparisons. While I was reading this book, I was reminded often of Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series, which truthfully is not my favorite of Butler's works, but which has given me the most food for thought. Sometimes the books that we grapple with the most are ultimately the most important to us, you know? But I also found resonances with Kameron Hurley's The Stars Are Legion , and not just because we're talking about lesbians in space on squishy ships, although ... okay, so maybe that's exactly the resonance. I think there's some Rivers Solomon DNA in here too, with echoes of An Unkindness of Ghosts and the intersection of racial and class divisions so adroitly tackled in both books. And let's face it, I was thinking of Nnedi Okorafor's Binti frequently, too, in that Drayden's voice is at its most whimsical here of in any of her books, even while tackling issues of genocide and the Other, as does Okorafor. And while there are commonalities between Escaping Exodus and these other works, that's not to say that they're at all alike. In the end, Drayden has delivered a book with an utterly unique voice. (But whoa, do I want to be a fly on the wall when any of these authors end up talking books together.)Boxes ticked: Lesbians! In space! Also an interrogation of rigid class boundaries and gender expectations, flip-flopped in the way that Tom Miller flip-flops things in The Philosopher's Flight . Squishy spaceships! A growing awareness of one's relationship to the Other! Space whales! Tentacle sex! (OK, I have to admit that that last one was pretty weird. But, well. Yeah, no. It was weird.) And critically for a book that touches on how complicated it can be to fall in love with someone you're not supposed to (ahem, speaking as a queer person myself), this book has a happy ending! Or at least, it has an emotionally rewarding and satisfying ending, even though there's a lot of tragedy along the way. We don't bury all of our gays here, in part because, well, by our standards everyone is gay in this book. (It's great.)So why do I wish for half-star review capabilities? In part, because there are some ... potentially problematic things going on with trans representation in this book. I'd keep my eyes peeled for reviews by trans readers, because while my queerdar is sending up a couple of red flags, I myself am not trans. I am, however, nonbinary--specifically, agender. And I find it ... difficult to accept that a toxic gender binary would be so rigidly enforced, even while other aspects of the queer community are wholeheartedly embraced. It doesn't seem to me that Drayden was even thinking of nonbinary identities (apart from trans identities, which sometimes overlap with nonbinary ones) at all in writing this book, which ... well, it makes me sad. I loved pretty much everything going on in this book, but it felt like a blind spot of the social structure itself, given how many folks are moving away from today's gender binary already. ANYWAY. These kinds of questions did pop up in my mind from time to time while reading, and I hope Drayden addresses them in future works. I feel as though she's really evolving as an author, and growing more playful than ever. I can't wait to see what comes next!
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  • The Captain
    January 1, 1970
    Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from Goodreads Giveaways.  Arrrrr!  In return I will write an honest review.  So here are me honest musings . . .I have been meaning to read this author's work for a while now.  I heard about this book from Matey Sarah.  The gorgeous cover and the mention of the spaceship being "insides of a spacefaring beast" is what made me click this cover and enter the giveaway.  And then I won!  This book was quite an experience.  I really enjoy Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from Goodreads Giveaways.  Arrrrr!  In return I will write an honest review.  So here are me honest musings . . .I have been meaning to read this author's work for a while now.  I heard about this book from Matey Sarah.  The gorgeous cover and the mention of the spaceship being "insides of a spacefaring beast" is what made me click this cover and enter the giveaway.  And then I won!  This book was quite an experience.  I really enjoyed this introduction to the author's writing with some quibbles.I loved:- The ship of course!  I enjoyed the concept of the ship being inside a live creature and how organic it felt.  People worked or lived in all areas of the ship from the heart to the stomach to the rectum.  Ichor, fluids, wastes, etc. are described in (sometimes icky) detail.  The ship felt alive and real.The world building - Besides the awesome ship, I liked getting some backstory into how the society, politics, and culture of the ships had changed over the generations.- The familial structures - I really liked the idea of the matriarchal political structures and how each child was raised by multiple adults of both genders.  I thought the significance constellations and family lines in terms of hair-braiding was cool.- The characters - I particularly enjoyed the character of Adala and kinda wish she had been the main focus.  She had the most interesting character development and I loved watching her grow into her own person.- The diversity - I loved that this story focused on the black experience and had f/f, and polyamorous in addition to hetero-normative relationships.- I loved the other ships in the fleet and differences that entailed.  I wouldn't have minded more exploration of these issues.I didn't love:- The main character - While I was cheering for Seske in the beginning, she wore on me by the end.  She felt resourceful and yet did not live up to her earlier potential.- The characters in general - Besides the main couples, ye really did not get enough of a feel for any of the other people onboard.  They felt a little two-dimensional.- The writing structure - The majority of the book was engrossing and fun.  But towards the end, a lot of the story fell apart and shattered me verisimilitude.  Characters acted in manners contrary to earlier behavior, several major plot lines were dropped (rebellion, embryos, sisterkin), and the resolution just felt rushed.  This book should have either been restructured a bit to remove the dangling plot points or made into a duology to better explore some of the issues involved.- The romance - I did not enjoy how the f/f romance turned out at all.  It was too convenient and unbelievable.- Alien tentacle sex.  Aye, I was warned about it so it didn't shock me but there were several different plot choices that could have been made that would have a) made more sense; and b) furthered the narrative in a more appropriate fashion.  Alternatively the author could have made the ship more alien and its motives more mysterious to the protagonists but that choice would have changed the tone to more of erotic body horror maybe.A lot of me thoughts about the ending are summed up in Matey Nella's review:"the problem . . . is the lack of catharsis. We have this huge amount of build-up - complex, flawed characters with complicated dynamics, and a beautifully created world - and then shit hits the fan and everything get Bad, and none of it gets the time needed for a satisfactory finish. The last third of the book feels almost like checking off a list, with way too much stuff that doesn't get properly dealt with."That said, I am glad I got this book and was able to read it because the ship itself was so cool.So lastly . . .Thank you Goodreads Giveaways and Harper Voyager!
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  • issa
    January 1, 1970
    Nicky Drayden is a madwoman. She—actually, it’s about time to dispense with that recurring gag.Nicky Drayden is a brilliant chef. A master storyteller. A— —okay maybe also still a madwoman. She invites you into her stories, beckons you in, and immediately you are greeted by a counter set with the most bizarre ingredients organized in a most unexpected plan. They are for the most part familiar flavors, sure, but you sense already a glint in Nicky’s eyes and you wonder. Unsure, you set Nicky Drayden is a madwoman. She—actually, it’s about time to dispense with that recurring gag.Nicky Drayden is a brilliant chef. A master storyteller. A— —okay maybe also still a madwoman. She invites you into her stories, beckons you in, and immediately you are greeted by a counter set with the most bizarre ingredients organized in a most unexpected plan. They are for the most part familiar flavors, sure, but you sense already a glint in Nicky’s eyes and you wonder. Unsure, you settle in, drawn by the characters warm and personal and a plot that pushes forward at a gentle but enticing pace.Read on, and you’ll begin to feel like you understand where things are going, how those ingredients, boiling away slowly but surely, will culminate. You understand the direction at least, so you think, and you read on, a little more connected, a little more invested, feeling like perhaps Nicky has done it again after all, forgetting what always happens.It goes sideways. Those carefully woven threads, the schemes and lives set in motion, they all fly apart in a tangleburst as Life Happens and one thing gone awry—as it would, as it must—shifts the universe suddenly on a new axis and the pots explode and in the boiling plasma flying alight those ingredients fuse into new exotic flavors and there are tentacles and heightened alien consciousnesses and there’s sex and life and love erupting in forms you’d never imagined and you never knew were going to hit you and you realize that yes; Nicky has done it again after all.All this is, each time, in service of a new constitution, a fresh perspective on her core ideas and beliefs. Here in Escaping Exodus, Nicky takes her most direct shot yet at the entirety of human connection and how it shapes us.Most visibly and obviously under scrutiny here is class. Tradition, pretense, and expectation; tradecraft and history; respect, honor, and dignity: in each of these inheritances, in the whole of our heritage, Nicky highlights how the auspices of class that structure society hold us apart and prevent us from understanding each other. In high society, of course, there is no real humanity left—only the eternal dance of aristocracy remains, all actions and choices, all one’s dignity and sex, judged through that heavily distorted lens—and yet even as we and Adalla dig further and further down and layers of pretense are stripped away do we learn just how much there is, just how disconnected we all are from each other by culture and society and expectation.Snore loudly if you don’t want company. It matters not how forced, how pretentious.Only in the eden of nature do we find true openness, unfaltering acceptance, murmurs wheeling across the sky to fly with, complete understanding through complete trust. Only in a predatorless environment, one in which all beings have a place. A name.By the time Escaping Exodus is done piledriving through the accumulated strata of class, there remains only one natural destination for that directed force, one floor left to smash: the final class; the inhuman. Inhuman masses. Inhuman humans. Inhuman beasts. Inhuman nature. The smallest and meanest, the most vulnerable, the most numerous, that upon which we all depend most for survival.Only when you peer deeply enough down into the depths, only when you look everywhere at once with acceptance and love, only when you understand the value of all life, do you recognize that there is no Other to exploit, there is not That Which is Worth Saving and That Which Cannot Matter if We Are To Be Saved, there are no divisions that are not artificial, there are no murmurs, fronds, Zenzees, there are no insects, trees, whales—there is only Everything.We already have a name for this. It is Earth.
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  • Amy A
    January 1, 1970
    3.5Originally posted at Vampire Book ClubSeske Kaleigh’s people live within the bodies of space creatures utilizing all the parts of the creature—bones, flesh, organs, etc.—until the beast is used up and then they must find another creature and repeat the process. This is how they’ve survived for centuries, but from the start something is different about this new excavation.It’s an issue that Seske, part of the Contour class and next in line as Matriarch of her peopl 3.5Originally posted at Vampire Book ClubSeske Kaleigh’s people live within the bodies of space creatures utilizing all the parts of the creature—bones, flesh, organs, etc.—until the beast is used up and then they must find another creature and repeat the process. This is how they’ve survived for centuries, but from the start something is different about this new excavation.It’s an issue that Seske, part of the Contour class and next in line as Matriarch of her people, will have to face head on. As Seske begins to question their way of life, she’ll have to work quickly in order to keep her people safe from Exodus, all while learning what it means to lead.Escaping Exodus features one of the best-realized future worlds I’ve read in sci-fi. The way Nicky Drayden presents it is so interesting in that we’re just thrust into this society without knowledge of how things came to be, but we’re put into the beginning of an excavation—kind of like the beginning of a new cycle—and we learn as it goes. Only later do we get a fuller picture of why things have become the way they currently are.I was so taken in with the matriarchal society with family units consisting of six women, three men, and one child and they all fill some role (head, heart, will etc) that is their area of expertise, so to speak, for the family. Then there’s also the clear divide between the classes which we get through the viewpoints of Seske—of the Contour class—and her best friend Adalla—of the Beastworker class. Drayden does such of great job of making the story futuristic, yet still able to be comprehended within today’s timeframe. Meaning, it’s not so far out there that I can’t completely dismiss aspects of the story from one day coming to fruition.Therein also lies the problem for me with Escaping Exodus in that there was just too much in this story for the page count which meant that there were some things that didn’t get the proper development. I would have gladly read another 200 pages on this book if it meant that certain conflicts or story threads could have been worked out. As it stands, especially toward the end, there were definite moments where I felt whiplash due to the change of course between one occurrence and the next. Like the beginning so eloquently spells out the constructs of the society, then suddenly we’re close to the end and things have to actually move somewhere.The main relationship in the story is between Seske and Adalla. It’s a coming-of-age relationship that repeatedly gets waylaid by class structures and Seske’s future role as Matriarch. There is much more time focused on Seske and Adalla figuring out who they are as individuals when their society says they cannot conceivably be together. I would have liked a little more exploration to this relationship, but I think it’s an interesting notion that—even within a supposed future—lineage is still so prevalent. You can be with whomever you want, however you want, but they need to have a good family name behind them and have a good position in society.Overall, though, the biggest message for me was the idea that sustainability is not just caring for and working with your environment, but it’s caring for and working with each other. We are part of nature so it goes to say that we can’t just hold some people to a higher standard, we all have to step up and not at the expense of others.
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  • Nella
    January 1, 1970
    I think the problem I have with Nicky Drayden's books - at least with Escaping Exodus and the Prey of Gods, since I haven't read Temper yet - is the lack of catharsis. We have this huge amount of build-up - complex, flawed characters with complicated dynamics, and a beautifully created world - and then shit hits the fan and everything get Bad, and none of it gets the time needed for a satisfactory finish. The last third of the book feels almost like checking off a list, with way too much stuff t I think the problem I have with Nicky Drayden's books - at least with Escaping Exodus and the Prey of Gods, since I haven't read Temper yet - is the lack of catharsis. We have this huge amount of build-up - complex, flawed characters with complicated dynamics, and a beautifully created world - and then shit hits the fan and everything get Bad, and none of it gets the time needed for a satisfactory finish. The last third of the book feels almost like checking off a list, with way too much stuff that doesn't get properly dealt with.Like the two main characters. They have this deep friendship and growing romance, being slowly pulled apart by the various roles they are expected to fill in their classist society (which they are of course living in different ends of). Their friendship inevitably gets almost irreparably fucked up, setting up for a delicious arc of them finding each other again. And then it gets fixed in one single scene. Two thirds of the book spent breaking them down, and then snap, all good again.Same thing with main character Seska and her sister. They have a relationship so frought Seska literally wishes her sister dead right in front of her, and the sister repeatedly tries to murder her. But it's kind of warranted, because this fucked up society has been so unfair to her that she doesn't even have a name, and has to constantly watch her own mother pick someone else over her. This could have been so interesting; either heal their relationship and acknowledge that they were both shitty due to circumstances, or have the sister go full villain with a just cause. But no, it just kinda putters out and Seska is made to be in full right of her own shitty behaviour. I just wanted them to have a conversation, dammit.I have mixed feelings about the world building. It starts awesome and stays like that for about two thirds: an intricately made biological spaceship and a matriachal society far removed from ours. Then near the end it just kind of explodes into reveleations that the main characters didn't know about (even if everyone else seems to know). After having spent so much time creating this world and its details, the sudden huge reveleations get barely any time at all. Same thing with the solutions to the many problems they bring with them - very briefly dealt with even though they are fucking huge.This book had so much potential, and the first two thirds were really good! But without a proper, satisfying ending it all kinda falls apart. I think it could have been much better if it was longer and had the time to really work things through, but alas, this is what we got.
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