Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel, #2) by Josiah Bancroft

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1.) Senlin Ascends ★★★★★

Buddy Read with Petrik

“Civilization is like sunshine. Spread it about, and the world blooms with culture, innovation, and fraternity. But focus it all upon one spot, and mankind scorches the earth like a ray from a magnifying glass.”

A year has passed since the events that have lead Senlin into the tower. Marya is still missing, but Senlin is still in relentless pursuit to find his missing new bride, but to also find out even more mysteries that lie in every level of the tower.

This review will have minor spoilers from Senlin Ascends! Please do not continue if you have not read the first book in this series. Also, please go pick Senlin Ascends up, because it is unlike anything you’ve ever read before and will most likely blow your ever loving mind! Seriously, it’s good, one of the best books I’ve read in 2017, and totally worth picking up and giving a try!

“At first I felt as if we had escaped a prison. Now, I feel like we’ve been locked out of our house”

This book starts out with Senlin, or should I say Captain Mudd, and his new air pirate crew! Yes, him, Iren, Edith, Voleta, and Adam have still taken to the skies and are trying to outsmart the tower (an impossible task, by the way) to let them into the level of Pelphia, where Senlin believes his wife has been taken to.

In Senlin Ascends we were able to see in great detail and explore the Market, the Basement, the Parlor, and, my personal favorite, the Baths. Well, in Arm of the Sphinx we only get to explore the Silk Gardens, but not nearly to the degree of the other levels.

We are then thrown into the meat of the actual story! Yes, this tale is much, much bigger than just a missing wife and Senlin’s obsession with finding her! And the main story involves a person that makes the word mystery look too shallow to describe them: the Sphinx.

“The Sphinx has seduced many, many men and women with his pretty machines that are full of terrible screams.”

As we learned in Senlin Ascends, Edith was forced to lose her arm, but was given a new one, a better one, a mechanical one. But who gave her this gift and allowed her to keep her life?

I also really enjoyed all the talk about social classes in the Tower. Obviously the Hods are going to play a much bigger role, but I just thought it was a nice touch talking about what many desperate and forgotten souls can do when they have nothing to lose. How the rich get rich off of the lower classes, but that can all change in a matter of moments with a few chain reactions. (Don’t talk about politics in your reviews, Melanie! Stop!)

“Just because you don’t recognize mercy doesn’t mean you haven’t been shown it.”

Again, this is a hidden indie gem! This story is mystery after mystery. The world is one of the most unique reading experiences I’ve ever had. The Tower is nothing short of magnificent. The characters are ones that I’m actually growing to completely love and want to protect at all costs. And the messages are something of pure beauty. This story is amazing and unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

This is such a fun steampunk story about love and loss, about becoming who you need to be in the face of death, and about how sometimes unexpected friendships can make the very best family. I cannot wait for The Hod King, and I have nothing but high expectations for this series and for Josiah Bancroft.

Also, do I have any artist friends that I can commission this stolen painting of a girl, in the water, with a paper boat? It’s actually haunting my nightmares and I need to see it in real life. Also, I have more theories on this panting if anyone would like to contact me and we can put on our tinfoil hats and talk for hours over tea!

“When humanity ceases to aspire, it begins to decline”

July 2017 TBR

After reading so many ARCs in June, I am looking forward to just kicking back and buddy reading with some of my very dear friends. July is always a crazy month for me, just because it is the month that almost all of my family decided to be born in, so I’m not setting a very strict TBR, but here are some of the things I’ve already committed to reading this month!

The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman, #1) by Paullina Simons:
I’m buddy reading this with Paloma ❤. I won’t lie; I’m a little apprehensive to read this, just because all of my friends either love it or hate it. I feel like I’m going to break someone’s heart regardless, but I’m really hoping I can fall in love with the story, and it won’t end up being a play by play of WWII! We shall soon find out, because it is one of the first things I plan to read this month!

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin:
I’m buddy reading this with Gelisvb ❤. The Fifth Season has been on my TBR for far too long. I am so excited to finally read it, and I have nothing but the highest expectations, which hopefully won’t cause me disappointment.

Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire #2) by Michael J. Sullivan:
Age of Myth was one of my favorite reads of 2016, so I couldn’t resist getting an ARC of the second book in this amazing series. This releases July 25th, 2017, and I am so very thankful that I am able to read and review this before that release date! Seriously, don’t sleep on this series! It is so worth the read if you’re a fantasy, YA or Adult, lover.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare:
You all probably saw the cover of this and lost your damn minds! Haha! Okay, so I’ve always been very negative with my feelings towards Cassandra Clare. From plagiarism, to not treating readers right, to many other things I’ve read, but this all being said, I need to learn to separate the art from the author, because that is probably my worst problem as a reader, honestly. Plus, I feel like I’m missing out on something amazing with all of my friends’ glorious reviews of The Dark Artifices series, so far! I figured I should at least give this world a try and what better time than now?

Corrupt (Devil’s Night #1) by Penelope Douglas:
I’m also going to be buddy reading this with Paloma ❤! I’ll be honest, I’m just really in the mood for a good erotic romance, and Jess from PeaceLoveBooksxo completely hyped this up and made me want to read this, and more from Penelope Douglas, so very badly.

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff:
I’ve wanted to pick this up since its release, but I’ve been a little apprehensive because some of my most trusted friends have absolutely hated it! Yet, now I keep seeing it constantly compared to Red Sister and I would love to read a book that is anything like what Mark Lawrence created, especially with the sequel, Godsgrave, releasing so soon!

I hope all my friends and followers had an amazing reading month in June! I wish you all the good books in the world for July!

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June 2017 Reading Wrap Up

Hey, everyone! This June I read nine things, which I’m happy with, but I hope I can do better in July! I tried to get through a lot of ARCs I had that are releasing this summer, but what kind of reader would I be if I didn’t have an impromptu reread of Harry Potter?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling – ★★★★★
Always and forever will this entire series be five stars. With the release of the 20th anniversary editions, I couldn’t resist giving one of my most beloved books a reread. Plus, honestly, it was the perfect way to start the month. Also, this is one of the most beautiful books I now own.

The New Voices of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle & Jacob Weisman – ★★★
I love supporting under-hyped books and authors, so I was very thankful to have been sent an ARC of this; however, I quickly found out that the word “new” was used very liberally. I didn’t let that influence my rating, but it still felt a little bad, I’m not going to lie. I did an in-depth breakdown of each of the short stories in this collection, with individual ratings, in my review! My personal favorite in the whole collection is, hands down, The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado. I am in awe of this story and its utter perfection. One of the best feminist works I’ve ever read in my life, and one of the most powerful pieces of art, too. If you can only read one short story of these nineteen, please pick this one. It’s life changing and so very important.

Godblind by Anna Stephens – ★★★★★
I loved this, and it was nothing short of grimdark fantasy perfection. This is a wonderful debut, set in an incredible new world that is centered around the worship of many different gods. We get a lot of amazingly different points of view, while exploring and dealing with some very heavy topics, some of which we don’t normally get to see in high fantasy. I loved this, and I hope you all pick it up and give it a try this year!

The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle – ★★★
I buddy read this with Jules ❤, and we both really enjoyed it. I thought the writing in this was so enthralling; I couldn’t help but also be completely captivated by this forest inhabited by magical creatures. Yet, in this story, the goblins that are terrorizing this community are for sure not the sexy kind, but the humans that live in this community make up for that. If you’re looking for a fast paced, well written, romantic, sexy read, then this is for sure something you should pick up.

The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga #2) by Elise Kova – ★★★★
Be still, my heart! This series is only getting better and better. I loved The Alchemists of Loom when I received my ARC of it in 2016, and this sequel doesn’t disappoint. Steampunk, political intrigue, romance, death duels, betrayals, gunslinging, technology, magic, and freakin’ dragons! This is truly a unique gift to the YA genre and if you pre-order The Dragons of Nova before the release (July 10th, 2017), you can and get a bunch of cool swag AND help unlock more tiers to get even more swag! The information on submitting your receipt can be found HERE! (Please, I’m desperate for that poster!)

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen – ★★★★★
Now this book I think is going to explode and become one of the most popular YA Sci-Fi series to drop in 2017. This book also feels a bit like a mixed hybrid of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, The 100, Divergent, but, in my opinion, it does it way better and more realistically and much more emphatically. It also stars a diverse cast, which I absolutely loved, and it never pulled away from important issues. This book talks about our health care system in the United States and how far we still need to come. This book talks about Systemic poverty in America is real and the system keeps people in that demographic over and over and throughout generations. This book talks about stereotyping and profiling, and how we treat others based of that. And this book talks about how it’s okay to be broken, and it’s okay to heal in your own way, and that you’re never alone no matter how alone you feel. This book was amazing, and I expect to hear nothing but good things about it. I also buddy read this with Solomon & Elise ❤.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – ★★★★
Oh my good sweet Lord, this was such a cute read! Like, this is literally the fluffiest, cutest, sweetest, summer time read and it was exactly what I needed at the time. I was also in complete shock that this was a debut novel, because this is one of the best romantic contemporaries I’ve ever read! Also, it was so very funny, like, laugh out loud like a crazy person funny. Seriously, this was so much fun and I loved it so very much!

Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel, #1) by Josiah Bancroft – ★★★★★
This book was unlike anything I’ve read before! It’s mystery after mystery, surprise after surprise, whimsical new steampunk world after whimsical new steampunk world. I was so addicted, and I never wanted this book to end. I just started Arm of the Sphinx today, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do once I finish that!

Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga, #1) by Steven Kelliher – ★★★★
This was a fun and different read about a village of people who have essentially barricaded themselves inside, but demons are slowly starting to trickle inside! The people in this valley also can develop powers based on where they dwell. It’s really different, fun, and I really enjoyed it. This is another self published work that truly is a hidden gem.

Yeah, I went a little ARC crazy in June, but that was totally the plan, so I’m pretty happy with my reading! I am looking very forward to July being a little slower and a lot more relaxed, and I’m very much anticipating some much needed buddy reads with some of my best friends! I hope you all enjoyed seeing everything I read in June and I wish you all the best in July. Happy reading, everyone!

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Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga, #1) by Steven Kelliher

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ARC provided to me by author Steven Kelliher in exchange for an honest review.

“It’s time we took control of our destiny rather than waiting for the ghost of a dead king to point us in the wrong direction.”

Valley of Embers is a great debut and a fantastic start to a new high fantasy that surrounds many characters that reside in a village that is being continually attacked by the dark kind, which are essentially demons being let in from The World Apart. Many of the people in this village used to live in the desert, until a Sage came and tried to enslave them. When this attempt happened, the Embers fled the desert into this valley and made it so nothing else could enter, but also this made it so nothing else could leave.

Some of the people in this world develop magical talents that are respectful of where they originated. Faeykin, from the forests in the valley, can heal, Rockbled, from more mountain-like terrain, are able to lift heavy stone and have thicker skin, and Emberfolk, from the desert, harness fire and flame and have some pretty impressive weapons to show for it. Unfortunately, since the Emberfolk fled, they are no longer close to their fire making power, so the children have become fewer and fewer to develop the magic.

Our main protagonist, Kole, is one of the last Embers to have sparked. He’s a very strong character, who is very well liked among his village, but he is harboring sadness ever since his mother died. His mother died looking for a Sage, the White Crest, that was fabled to have helped the village once before with the impending demons. Now, it might be time for others in the village to go looking for answers, since the demons are getting harder and harder to keep at bay.

“I don’t pretend to know what the White Crest once was to the Emberfolk, the Rivermen or the Faey. I know what he is now. Whatever’s left of him, that is. He is not our protector. He is our jailer. Now, our executioner.”

Also, the Sages in this world are magical people who are just constantly fighting with one another and will use the people of the valley to fight for them. The biggest and baddest sage, the Eastern Dark, might put an end to the valley once and for all if nothing changes.

“The Dark Kind had no ears for mercy and no hearts for forgiveness.”

And speaking of people who are going looking for Sages, the other main point of view is Linn, a girl that has grown up with Kole her whole life. Now, I don’t want to fangirl too hard here, but I loved Linn so much. I loved how she was reckless, and did what her heart told her was the right thing to do. I loved that she didn’t wait, I loved that she took action, and I love that she never gave up, no matter how dark her journey got. I was living for Linn’s chapters, and I seriously need more of her.

This story mostly focuses on the people from one village, Last Lake, but towards the end we also get to focus in a little bit on someone from a surrounding village, Hearth. I very much expect this world and these villages to be expanded on more in The Emerald Blade, and I have nothing but high hopes for it

I know I made this story seem pretty simple, but I promise you this story is the exact opposite. Steven Kelliher for sure believes in showing rather than telling. The world building is fantastic, but it’s very unforgiving. There is absolutely no info dumping, and I found myself constantly making notes, while trying to picture everything in my head. I can see this being not an easy read for many, but if you take the time I think it is a pretty rewarding story.

Also, this book is very, very, very focused on the non-stop plot and the world, which is amazing, but you guys know how much my heart belongs to character focused and driven stories. This is something the story did lack, and it is what is essentially holding me back from giving this five stars. I also had a hard time believing the characters. Like, the author would tell us how a character was, but I constantly had trouble believing that was how the character actually is, if that makes sense. Like, “so and so is angry” but they never really did anything to make me believe they were angry. This is just my preference to stories, but I feel it is important to note.

My favorite thing about this book is how we get to see all the different groups of people view the same exact thing differently. I think there is so much beauty in that, and I absolutely loved it. Also, Steven Kelliher’s MMA background shines through, because every fighting scene in this book is expertly done and will leave you completely breathless.

Valley of Embers is a self published work that I have nothing but high hopes for. Steven Kelliher really impressed me, and if you’re looking for an action filled, nonstop adventure that features some pretty phenomenal warriors, then please look no further and support this indie book.

“If the Dark Months were a time of war then the dawn was a time of preparation.”

Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel, #1) by Josiah Bancroft

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Buddy Read with Petrik

This highly praised indie book series has recently been picked up by Orbit! After that news, and seeing the first two beautifully sitting on my shelf for far too long, I decided I wanted to experience this self published series before the year was over, but now I just want all the books immediately, because Senlin Ascends is a literary masterpiece.

“The Tower of Babel is most famous for the silk fineries and marvelous airships it produces, but visitors will discover other intangible exports. Whimsy, adventure, and romance are the Tower’s real trade”

Senlin Ascends is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The basic premise seems easy enough: A headmaster that works at a school in a very small and far away village, has newly married a girl who compliments him perfectly. Senlin is a man of planning, habit, and always following the rules, while his new bride, Marya, follows her own beat completely and just wants to see the world. Senlin is also obsessed with a mysterious tower that is far, far away from him and Marya’s village. So, what better place for them to honeymoon than the tower that he’s been obsessing over his whole life. I mean, Senlin has a guidebook, and he always follows the rules, what could go wrong?

“the Tower is a tar pit. Once you put a toe in her, you’re caught forever. No one leaves. No one goes home.”

Yet, we soon find out that inside the Tower of Babel there are completely different worlds living and dwelling inside each level, or maybe I should say functioning inside each level. And, yes, I said Tower of Babel, like the bible story you probably grew up hearing at least once about why we speak so many different languages. Basically, after the Great Flood happened, a bunch of people came together and agreed to build a tower that would touch Heaven itself. God, realizing what they are attempting, scatters them all around the world and makes them all speak different languages, hence our world today. Yet, obviously, the higher in the tower you are the closer you are to God and Heaven.

Also, unbeknownst to me both times, this is the second Tower of Babel inspired story I’ve read this month, because I also read Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1) by Scott Reintgen . So now I’m lowkey sitting at my computer like, “Is God trying to tell me something?”

Anyways, this is a glorious painting done by Peter Bruegel, that I found because of my wonderful friend Mike’s review, that is a very close interpretation to how I pictured the Tower in this book:

And here is the Tower that the amazingly talented author, Josiah Bancroft, made that shows us around and inside a few of the levels known to man:
(I looked at this constantly once Petrik showed it to me!)

Okay, so now you guys know sort of what the gist of the Tower is and sort of what it looks like, but I’m sure you’re reading this review to find out about the story. Oh, my friends, this story is a treat to any book lover who happens to stumble upon this tale. It’s mystery after mystery, surprise after surprise, whimsical new steampunk world after whimsical new steampunk world.

“Not a solitary soul will help you here. The good souls don’t have the means or mind for it, and the bad souls will only bleed you dry.”

As Senlin is ascending the Tower, this book will constantly lead you to believe something, and you will, with your whole heart, but it will end up being so completely different. And the book will do this over and over again, but it will never feel forced or gimmicky, but it will always surprise you. I’m not sure any author I’ve ever read has been capable of doing that before, and, again, this is a debut novel by a self published author. (Which is why we need to support indie authors and find more hidden gems like this little masterpiece.)

And the writing is so fantastic. It’s entrancing and addicting, while also being one of the most immersive works I’ve ever read. Especially the baths, like, I’m still halfway convinced that I was there in my own little pinecone like shelf, watching everything play out through the streets of that city. This story reads like you’re in a lucid dream that you’re not sure you want to wake up from. Yet, it still feels like you’re seeing everything through somewhat of a haze. Again, this tale is glorious and unlike anything I’ve ever read in my many years of reading.

“It is easier to accept who you’ve become than to recollect who you were.”

And Senlin as a character was wonderful to read about, too. Seeing the Tower shape him into what he needs to be, is worth its own review. I mean, the Tower changes everyone, but Senlin always stays true to his caring self that loves to learn and to teach others and it makes him flourish. Senlin’s journey is nothing short of beautiful. I also loved the Tower itself, and how it is so much bigger than anyone realizes. I loved Senlin’s theory and I can’t wait to ascend the next levels with him.

“The Tower is only as tall as the man that climbs”

The side characters that Senlin meets along his journey are also nothing short of exquisite. Iren, Goll, Tarrou, Edith, Adam, Ogier, they were all such wonderful additions that truly shaped this story into something remarkable that leaves me with a loss for words. I could read side story after side story about each of these individuals and their time spent in the Tower.

At this point, I also believe that Josiah Bancroft could very well just be a genius for crafting this complex tale that is so entrancing yet easy to follow. The only negative thing I can really say is that this book does end, and I mean it ends somewhat abruptly, and if you don’t have the next book, Arm of the Sphinx, on hand, you are probably going to cry. If you’re looking for a fast paced adventure, with a completely addicting story, with some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read, that is unlike anything you’ve ever read, please give Senlin Ascends a try.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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“All I want to do is kiss you until I fall asleep. I want to slide in between your sheets, and find out what goes on inside your head, and underneath your clothes. I want to make a fool of myself over you.”

Oh my good dear sweet Lord, this book was absolutely heart warming. I was feeling a little under the weather and wanted something that would be cute, fluffy, and a fast read, so I picked this up completely underestimating how amazing it would be. This is honestly one of the best books I’ve read all year and probably the best romantic contemporary I’ve ever read in my entire life. Yeah, it’s not the cold medicine talking; this book is really that good.

“Books were, and always would be, something a little magic and something to respect.”

Also, this story takes place inside of a publishing house! I mean, what kind of book lover wouldn’t automatically love that premise? This publishing house, Bexley & Gamin, is the result of a merger that happened a few years ago between Bexley and Gamin.

Lucy Hutton – Executive assistant to Helene Pascal, the original CEO of Gamin.
Josh Templeman – Executive assistant to Mr. Bexley, the original CEO of Bexley.

Lucy and Josh, working directly under both co-CEOs, share an office, which forces them to spend a vast amount of their time together. They constantly feel like they are in competition with one another, and play games with each other throughout the day, trying to assert dominance. They go back and forth, slinging insults while trying to get the upper hand. They claim to hate each other, but it is so clear to everyone but themselves that they do not.

But their dynamic completely changes when they are both up for the same promotion, which will cause one of them to be the boss of the other. Complete games and high jinks ensue, and they are forced to come to a realization of how much they do, or actually do not, hate each other and all the time they have been forced to be together over the years.

And the witty banter and back and forth lines in this book are complete perfection, and maybe my favorite thing of all. This book is so very funny that I was actually in tears from some of the banter. Like, Lucy is everything. She is so sassy and never afraid to speak her mind. And her dialogue feels so natural and constantly felt like something I would honestly say or think about in real life, and I just loved t.

“What are you imagining? Your expression is filthy.”

“Strangling you. Bare hands.” I can barely get the words out. I’m huskier than a phone-sex operator after a double shift.

“So that’s your kink.” His eyes are going dark.

“Only where you’re concerned.”

I really liked Lucy, but Josh won me over… from the elevator. No seriously, Josh was such an amazing romantic lead. And the things he said, oh boy, the things he said. I was swooning pretty hard for this fictional boy. He was expertly written and so easy to root for. I also loved the confidence he bestowed upon everyone, but the insecurities he showed Lucy behind closed doors. I loved the element of it being the guy that was self conscious about his body and about his food choices. It was such a wonderful switch up and surprise and I really appreciated it.

Lucy was a great character, too, though. She never questioned her worth, and was never going to back down from any interview or opportunity for that matter. I also loved reading about a character with anxiety, and how she was able to cope with overwhelming situations. And I loved how she stood up for what she believed in and wasn’t afraid to stand up for others who were less willing to stand up for themselves. Also, again, I feel like the way she spoke was so very realistic to how people (myself, at least) actually speak. Also, Lucy and I are the same age in this book, so I guess I just felt a really believable attachment to her character.

I also loved Lucy’s parents and their unwavering and unconditional love, and how they thought the sun rises and sets because of Lucy. Like, that’s how my family is, and I seriously have to say the line “you’re just biased!” on weekly bases, but it warmed my heart to see them support her, and it was very reminiscent to my family who I also moved away from after college.

“He still hates me.” I take a fist of cashews and begin eating them a little aggressively. Dad is flatteringly mystified. “Impossible. Who could?” “Who even could,” Mom echoes”

This book was so close to perfect, but I did find the wedding date very, very predictable. I kept feeling anxiety while reading because I totally knew what was going on, even though Lucy didn’t and everyone else was acting ignorant about it. I understand this wasn’t meant to be a mystery or anything, but I wish it was resolved a little sooner, because I hated reading the lead up to the explosion I guessed once they stepped foot into the hotel.

I also feel like there was way too big of an emphasis on Lucy’s height. Like, I’m only 5’4″ so I’m happy for some short girl representation, but I didn’t need to be reminded of her height on every freakin’ page. Also, don’t get me wrong, I completely understand 5’0″ is a lot shorter than 5’4″, but every guy I’ve ever dated or been with has been over 6’0″ (I don’t even have a thing for tall guys or anything, it just happens to work out like this for me, I don’t even know) and the height difference is never as crazy as this book made it sound like. Especially *gulp* during sex, you know?

The only other negative thing I can say is that I feel like the cover is really underwhelming and would probably detour people from picking this up at a bookstore randomly. Like, I’m being nice, this cover is borderline ugly. This book deserves so much better. So, so, so much better.

Regardless, this was the perfect summer romantic comedy read! It’s adorable, heartwarming, and everything I could have ever asked for! But, like, I can’t believe this is a debut novel! Sally Thorne is so talented, and this story she wrote was so captivating and addicting. She has totally made a fan for life and is now an auto-buy author for me. I cannot wait to get my hands on The Comfort Zone in 2018!

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen

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ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Buddy Read with Solomon & Elise

“But they don’t tell you the pain comes with you. They don’t tell you that hurt travels at light-speed too.”

This is easily one of the best books I’ve read all year. I can’t wait for everyone to be able to read this in September when it releases. This book is the YA Sci-Fi book I’ve been waiting for my entire life.

Growing up, you guys might have learned about the story of Tower of Babel as a lesson about why we speak so many different languages. Basically, after the Great Flood happened, a bunch of people came together and agreed to build a tower that would touch Heaven itself. God, realizing what they are attempting, scatters them all around the world and makes them all speak different languages, hence our world today.

Well, Scott Reintgen spins that story backwards, and created a company, Babel, that brings ten teens from all around the world, speaking different languages, from different cultures, and gives them headsets that translate everything for them. Then, they are sent on a mission to land on a new planet, Eden, where the life forms, Adamites, won’t harm children. Babel then wants the children to mine Nyxia, which is the new super resource and is a substance that can create anything.

This book also feels a bit like a mixed hybrid of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, The 100, Divergent, but, in my opinion, it does it way better and more realistically and much more emphatically.

Nyxia stars a young black boy from Detroit, Emmett, who is one of ten teens that are a part of a space mission. All of these children come from broken places, and all are desperate to enter this program, because the company, Babel, is offering them an immense amount of money. But Emmett isn’t in it for the money; Emmett is doing it to save his mother.

Systemic poverty in America is real and the system keeps people in that demographic over and over and throughout generations. This book doesn’t shy away from it or any other hard topics. Emmett’s family works hard, they work so very hard, but they still can’t afford his mother’s hospital bills. She is in dire need of a transplant, and the only way to get her to the top of the donor list is for Emmett to be a part of Babel’s mission.

“It’s hard to tell the difference between rich and wrong.”

Our story mostly takes place on the ship, Genesis 11, where the teens are heading to Eden and Babel is training them to not only mine the substance, but to become powerful and strong tools themselves. The teens all get scores and points on how they complete their daily missions. Seriously, think Hogwartz, where the kids can constantly see how they are doing. Once on the ship, the group is informed that only so many will be allowed to actually step foot on Eden and be able to gain all the money they were promised. Obviously, this is where the point system comes into play, and we quickly learn how much this mission means to these ten teens.

Emmett – American (Detroit) – The main protagonist.
Kaya – Japanese – Emmett’s roommate and a master problem solver.
Longwei – Asian – The best on their ship.
Jaime – Swedish – The only white boy.
Azima – Kenyan – Looks for strength, while being strong.
Katsu – Japanese – The stereotypical chubby comic relief (but I do love him).
Jazzy – American (Tennessee) – Beauty and pageant queen with a sick mother.
Isadora – Brazilian – Has a secret tattoo, and carries a lot of anger and hurt.
Roathy – A boy with a lot of mystery and sadness surrounding him.
Bilal – Palestinian – The sweetest and kindest boy in the world.

You’ll feel an immense amount of empathy for all these characters, but, besides Emmett, Bilal and Kaya were easily my favorites, and both are complete little cinnamon rolls! The kindness that Bilal would constantly show everyone, even the people who wronged him, made me cry or tear up constantly. I wish everyone in the world was more like Bilal. And Kaya, and the unconditional love and friendship she showed to Emmett was something I always look for in a YA book. All of the friendships in this book are honestly goals, and Bilal and Kaya showed so much beauty towards Emmett that I couldn’t help but fall in love.

I spoke about how this book touches on our current health care crisis and how we let people die just because they can’t afford treatment to live, but Scott Reintgen doesn’t stop there with there with the important discussions. We get to see in this book how we stereotype and profile kids and adults of every race so very often and without even thinking.

I loved seeing Emmett handle this anger, and using the system his Grandma helped him with. I hate how we live in a world where black men have to always be portrayed as angry. They can never be happy, or emotional, or anything close to looking sensitive. I loved seeing Emmett constantly battling his anger, and then also seeing him break down and just cry innocent tears from his family’s love and them believing in him.

And the family dynamic in this book is so strong and wonderful. We don’t get to see a lot of Emmett’s family, but each time we did I had tears in my eyes. Emmett’s dad is perfect, and seeing his unconditional and unwavering love for his son and wife was something pure and beyond words. I wish more YA books showed stronger familial bonds like Nyxia.

Emmett’s journey to making his own family on the ship was also something of perfection. So many important messages are in this book about feeling broken in this broken world, with such heavy emphasis on letting kids know that they are not alone, no matter how alone they feel. Seriously, this book is not just a fast paced and addicting read, it’s powerful and full of messages that warm my heart to know teens and young adults are reading about.

I also loved the use of music in this book, and how Emmett would constantly use it to calm him and to cope with heavy situations around him. I’m a strong believer in the healing powers of music, and I love seeing it used as a positive outlet.

“The power of music and how it can heal your very soul”

I predict that this is going to explode. Between the amazingly addicting story, to the wonderfully diverse and realistic cast, to the important topics and discussions, to the beautiful writing, this story has it all, and I truly believe it is a recipe for success. I can’t wait to get my hands on book two and to see what Scott Reintgen does next!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.