I think that fans of Ender’s Game and the Red Rising Trilogy will enjoy N. J. Tanger’s Chimera. The main characters are underdogs destined to save the society who has spent the last several generations trying to atone for a debt that got them kicked off of planet Earth. It is ripe with oppression, intrigue, and some kids getting schooled the hard way. This is the first in a pair that has already been published, so when you get to the end, and scream “Noooooo” into the night, you can just download the next one and proceed with the adventure.
On the verge of extinction, the Stephen’s Point colony must take desperate measures to save themselves. Without communication or resupply from Earth for the last fifteen years, the colony has but one chance to survive: restore the ancient starship Chimera and train a young crew to pilot her. The fate of the entire colony rests on the shoulders of a pair of misfits: Theo Puck, a sixteen-year-old hacker with a gift for speaking to machines, and fifteen-year-old Selena Samuelson, a brash but talented pilot with a dark secret in her past.
To Theo, the Mandate to crew the Chimera seems like a game—one he isn’t invited to play. A brutal murder changes everything. Left with no choice, Theo has to complete the Selection training and make it aboard the Chimera or face terrible consequences.
Selena wants to do what she does best—fly. Piloting her father’s ore trawler is the only life she’s known before a horrifying accident strands her aboard the Hydra, the station responsible for rebuilding the Chimera. Forced into the Mandate testing against her will, Selena encounters an unexpected ally, forever changing the way she sees the Chimera and herself.
Forced to make brutal choices in order to survive, Theo and Selena’s fates intertwine. But behind the scenes, someone else sets into motion events that could destroy everything they’re fighting to protect.
The first fifteen percent just didn’t really grab me, but I’m glad I stuck it out. Essentially there are two characters the book follows – Theo and Selena. They are pretty typical for underdog characters – loyal to the ones the connect with, betrayed by the ones they believed in, and reluctant to take up the mantle of greatness fate seems to hold in store. I liked them both, but it is the foul mouth Selena I found most intriguing. She is tough and determined and she doesn’t think she needs anyone. She is a bit of a flat character, and it feels like she plays second fiddle to Theo’s storyline, but I just have a feeling she is going to be the key in the end. I liked the concept of the story as well, but I was surprised that the big event I expected – flying off in the Chimera – doesn’t happen in this book. Instead, this volume essentially establishes setting and characters, and, while there is plenty of action, I anticipate that the biggest events are left to appear in the follow up books. I found that there were a lot of surprises I didn’t see coming in the story, so just when it seems on a predictable route, things get shaken up. Overall, it was engaging and I am curious enough that I will pick up the next book. There is some language, but it is suitable for high school readers.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.