This is going to have to be quick impressions, since I read these books around school months ago, and I’m sure I don’t remember anything fully. I’ll start with what I’m enthusiastic about and then progress toward the merely interesting.
KB Wagers’s A Pale Light in the Black and Hold Fast Through the Fire are hugs in military SF wrappers. Found family space Coast Guard blurbed as A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet with more kickboxing. Follow these Near Earth Orbital Guard teams as they deal with change, navigate their families, protect inhabited planets and citizens in space, and, not to be forgotten, vie to beat out the other armed forces in the inter-departmental games. These clever characters left me eager to spend more time with them and feeling better about the world.
Olivia Dade’s Spoiler Alert: what better to feed the soul of a fanfic writer/reader than a cute romance about the actor/fanfic writer who underplays his intelligence (thanks, parental trauma) and his fat-and-gorgeous fanfic beta/writer friend? Memerific and memorable, this book is the ultimate in palate cleansers with its own substantial and vital messages.
August Kitko and the Mechas from Space by Alex White is not a book I would normally pick up–mechas not being my thing–but this end-of-the-world romance between musicians-turned-mecha-pilots is sweet, gay, and action-packed. Transformers meets Jack Harkness, but autotuned with the amps dialed to eleven. I’ll definitely be rereading throughout the years.
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao was runner-up for my MFA program’s common reading last year. In a world where mechas defending humanity are piloted by male jocks and female sacrifices (with due credit to a nonbinary minority), one woman wields what little power she has to try to escape her sure death. A thoughtful condemnation of misogyny. (If you’re binge reading mecha books, read this one before August Kitko to end on a high note.)
Book of Night by Holly Black was the common reading in my program earlier this year. A moody magical thriller, it could have used some more developmental editing. I may have enjoyed it less by switching between paper and audio for the sake of time, but it was…fine. An interesting concept. An execution. A symbiotic relationship I’m invested in by the end, though I’m told it’s unhealthy. (What can I say? I have a soft spot for symbionts.) I’m okay with not reading the sequel, but I could be talked into it by a very close friend.