Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.
Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain – but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy – even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong – he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret – she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line.
These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy – but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think…
Title: Light Years
Author: Kass Morgan
Genre: YA Fantasy (though feels more Middle Grade)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5/5)
[DISCLAIMER] I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in a recent Illumicrate box, please note that therefore my review is based on this version and things may change in the finished copy.
This is the first time recently that a book has felt ‘too YA’ for me. Almost middle-grade feelings with this book, so much so I had to check if it even was YA at one point.
I like the YA/NA blend recently, so you get to read about people in their late teens and early 20s go on adventures and solve problems, and I get to feel involved in an age group I enjoy still, without feeling pushed out to the gritty realism of a lot of Adult books.
But Light Years had that feeling I only used to get reading younger books: formulaic plot, obvious characterising, one dimensional villains, obvious plot twists, etc.
It wasn’t a bad book by any means, just a disappointing one for me. I think it could have been a lot better, and a bit more mature. Then it could have hit the leagues of The Illuminae files.
It centers around 4 main characters: Vespa, Cormak, Arran, and Orelia.
Vespa – A Tridian girl with an extremely overbearing mother, desperate to be the best in Quatra Fleet Academy so she can prove her worth.
Cormak – A boy from Deva who has taken someone else’s identity in order to get into the Academy and make something of himself.
Arran – A boy from Chetire, running away from a life in the mines and into the arms of a type of boy he never thought he would be with.
Orelia – A girl on a secret mission that could threaten the lives of everyone in the Academy, hiding who she is from everyone, even her own team.
I liked the variety in the characters and how they interacted, however Cormak having an alias was a bit confusing as I forgot every now and again and had to remind myself who I was reading about. In general, they had solid personalities and backstories, and each had a bit of character growth, even if it was very small.
Some of the characters could be a little one-dimensional though, Vesper’s mum for one. She seemed a bit too harsh just for the sake of it. I wasn’t really sure of her motivations besides being a horrible mother.
I also really liked the overall idea of the book, even if it did seem very similar to Ender’s Game, as I’m a fan of space stories and stories with boarding schools in them (leftover from my Malory Towers days – thanks Mum for getting me into those!).
But the plot itself was a little thin.
The logic of training up cadets from a young age and keeping the most promising to go on to become captains etc. once they’re adults makes a lot of sense. But the training and the way they go about this didn’t quite make sense.
They put the children into teams and have them run simulations in competition with other teams, one of the kids in each team flying the simulated ship. Now, in our main team, the pilot has been training for a while and knows the controls, but what about teams where the pilot has never flown anything or even driven something? There’s not much if any pre-training for this, they’re just dropped right in the middle of this competition and told to be the best. It seems a bit unfair and skewed to the privileged people in this world, and also just wouldn’t make sense in any other schooling system.
It felt a little like doing a maths exam, doing well, and then immediately running a bank. Like… there are some more steps between those two things I’m sure?
Then, even taking this out of the equation, the battle ranking system felt quite rushed. I mean, you assume that the team you’re following will do pretty well or else they’d be away from all the drama and plot for the rest of the book and it would be a pretty boring read. But it would have been nice to see a bit of struggle or issues to face getting up the ranking tables.
Another thing was the vagueness surrounding the science in the book.
I wasn’t expecting ‘The Martian’ levels here, but a bit more detail into how Orelia works out her equations with the stars would have made me believe in her intelligence even more. And a bit more time in each of the classes that everyone takes in their respective areas would have been interesting also: some more design talk and equations and maybe leadership training for the captains?
It might have added the depth the school needed for me to really believe that it was for the top tier of intelligent students.
One thing I LOVED though, was the relationship between Arran and Dash. It was adorably sweet and who doesn’t love a bit of LGBT+ rep?
Again, it was a little light on the depth there too, but they did go through struggles and have a few misunderstandings so it wasn’t too bad a relationship in my books.I think I just wanted more gore and sadness and grit, more drama like in The 100. I wanted to feel heartbroken and care more about these characters.
Overall: Fun read, more for younger readers than for YA readers, enjoyable and easy to get through. I’m still curious about how these characters fare in later books so will probably pick those up and enjoy them. Not the best read of the year, but still pretty good.