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Space, The Final Frontier

C.A. Higgins’ Lightless series, which begins with Lightless and Supernova, paints a bleak picture of humanity’s future.

Space, The Final Frontier

BOOK REPORT for Lightless and Supernova (Lightless #1 and #2) by C.A. Higgins

Cover Story: Spacey
BFF Charm: Maybe, Hell No
Swoonworthy Scale: 1
Talky Talk: Futuristic
Factor: Bleak Ending?
Anti-Bonus Factors: Revolution
Relationship Status: Waffling

Cover Story: Spacey

I’m a big fan of galaxy and space imagery, so these covers definitely called my name. I’d totally be OK with having space-print skin.

The Deal:

Althea Bastet has dedicated her life to service aboard the secret experimental spaceship Ananke and to the System, the organization that built the ship and which governs the solar system. She poured her heart and soul into designing the ship, and now works as the mechanic, fixing anything that might go awry in the Ananke’s complex computer systems as she and the two other members of her team carry out their mission.

When the Ananke is boarded by two criminals looking to make a score, Althea and her fellow crewmembers manage to capture one while the other departs in an escape pod. They interrogate the captive, Leontios Ivanov (“Ivan”), but he assures the crew that he and his partner were only curious about what the Ananke’s purpose was. Soon, however, things start glitching in the Ananke’s system, things Althea can’t figure out how to fix. Then a ruthless System investigator arrives, with a singular purpose to find out how Ivan is connected to the Mallt-y-Nos,* a mysterious revolutionary figure who’s willing to do whatever it takes—and kill whomever gets in her way—to destroy the System.

And Althea can’t do anything but cope as she’s dragged into situations that might have much farther-reaching consequences than she could have ever imagined.

*Name taken from actual Welsh mythology, even though it sounds like a breakfast cereal or some sort of powdered beverage à la Nesquik.

BFF Charm: Maybe, Hell No

I like Althea well enough, and I definitely envy her smarts. She understands computer systems better than most people understand anything. (Side note: I got one of my worst grades ever in a computer science class I took in college. I totally could have benefitted from being her friend while struggling through that class, for sure.) But along with those smarts seems to come a certain level of inability to connect with other humans. Althea tries, but she’s much more comfortable with code than she is with people. This isn’t a fault, per se, but it might make it hard to really connect since we have such different personality types. (And she’d probably judge me for my ineptitude.)

In the second book in the series, Supernova, we also get to read from the POV of the Mallt-y-Nos. I’m not going to reveal who she actually is, so as to not ruin that reveal in the books, but basically … I would not want to be her friend. I understand that revolutionaries, by nature, need to be ruthless and willing to make the hard decisions. But that doesn’t mean I want someone like that for a friend.

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

There’s a moment in Lightless in which I thought Althea might be making a connection with Ivan, but it was apparently just wishful (hopeless romantic) thinking on my part.

Talky Talk: Futuristic

From the very start, it’s obvious that Lightless and Supernova take place in a future that seems all too real: humanity has expanded across the solar system, but life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies—thanks mostly to the Big Brother-like control of the System. Revolutionaries are fighting against “the man,” with a lot of casualties on both sides. C.A. Higgins’ world is a little frightening because it is so believable.

I struggled with connecting with her characters, however. They’re interesting, but can be hard to like, even the ones who are supposed to be the (likeable) protagonists. They’re all kind of cold, and I don’t feel like I really got to know them, even though I learned a lot about them over the course of two books.

Factor: Bleak Ending?

Before writing this review, I thought—incorrectly—that the Lightless series was a duology. (It’s a trilogy, I think.) And so, when I got to the end of Supernova, I found myself totally bummed out by what I thought was a super bleak and depressing ending to the series. However, now that I know there’s more to come, I’m quite interested to see where Higgins goes from here.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Revolution

In theory, I understand the purpose of revolution, and I know that it can produce very positive change. The revolution in the Lightless series, however, is way more destructive than I think it needed to be. (This is part of the reason I dislike the Mallt-y-Nos as much as I do.)

Casting Call:

Nathalie Emmanuel as Althea

Relationship Status: Waffling

When I thought you were a duology, Book, I was pretty much done with any interest in having a continuing relationship. But now that I know there’s more to you, I have to admit that I might be willing to get together again. I’m wary, but my curiosity might just win out in this case.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received review copies of these books from Del Rey. I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Lightless is available now; Supernova will be available July 26.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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