About the Book

Title: Light Years (Light Years #1)
Published: 2018
Series: Light Years
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: So Close
BFF Charm: Make It Rain
Talky Talk: Science Friction
Bonus Factor: Life in Space
Anti-Bonus Factors: Cliffhanger, Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: Sidekick

Cover Story: So Close

There is a lot to like about this cover, most importantly the diversity of race and gender featured. The militaristic chevrons and the space background are good nods at the story within. And who doesn’t love a little lens flare?

But why is the blonde white girl so much larger than the others? And why does the Asian girl look like she’s been running in a windstorm? And why does the guy in the upper left look like something out of an old-timey photo, while the others are sharper? These questions give me pause.

The Deal:

The Quatra Fleet Academy is the most prestigious military academy in the system; when they graduate, students go on to lead the Quatra Fleet and protect the system’s citizens from their enemies. But for far too long, only inhabitants of the planet Tridian—the wealthiest and most elite—have been allowed in. All that’s changed with this most recent class, and the Tridian students must learn to work together with kids from the other three planets in the system: Deva, Chetire, and Loos.

Vesper has a chip on her shoulder and a lot to prove. Cormack’s literally pretending to be someone he’s not. Arran’s trying to navigate both the Academy and first love. And Orelia’s hiding a secret that has implications that reach much farther than the Academy’s classrooms. All four enter the Academy with plans, but they quickly come to realize that nothing is ever set in stone.

BFF Charm: Make It Rain

BFF charm holding an umbrella

The four main characters of Light Years are all very different from each other, but also have more similarities than any of them could first imagine. Their upbringings, their planets, their families, their life goals—all different. But when they arrive at Quatra Academy and are forced to work together as a squadron to compete with the rest of the Academy’s students, it’s obvious that despite all of these differences, they’re not that different underneath the surface. Really, it’s their dissimilarities that make them such a great team. I’d probably find it hard to be the fifth wheel—particularly because there isn’t a fifth spot in a squadron—but I could see myself being friends with all of them. I want friends who will challenge me and my beliefs and provide varied perspectives on all of life’s situations. The kids of Squadron 20 would definitely provide that.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Morgan is skilled at writing character chemistry and doesn’t string readers along while also not making anything seem too easy or like insta-love. Each of the four main characters have romances—one of them a gay romance—and they’re all pretty swoony. The focus of Light Years isn’t so much about said romances, however, but they do add a nice bit of spice and help with character development.

Talky Talk: Science Friction

The thing I most appreciate about Light Years is something I appreciate about many a good science novel: Morgan’s taken modern issues and put them in a futuristic setting that, although fictional, helps readers work through the issues and realize that said issues are pretty universal. Light Years covers topics including diversity, nationality discrimination, classism, sexuality, fake news, and more, all of which are extraordinarily pertinent to current times, and certainly things that modern teens see/hear about/deal with on a daily basis. Sure, Morgan also interjects some teenage drama, but this is a YA book, after all.

Bonus Factor: Life in Space

Stars and lights in space

One of my greatest complaints in life is that I wasn’t born in a time in which space travel was common. I want to live on a space station! I want to travel to other planets! I don’t want to have to go to military school, but the fact that they have an anti-grav room in which you can flip around, weightless, makes it seem that much more tolerable.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Cliffhanger

A man dressed all in black (Sylvester Stallone) clings to a cliff face

Light Years is the first in a new series, and—appropriately, yet annoyingly—ends with a bit of a shock. I’m not dying to know what happens next, but I’ll certainly be picking up any sequel(s) to see how it all pans out.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting

Evil Dan Scott from One Tree Hill

There are quite a few mentions of crappy parents in Light Years, but none are so awful as Vesper’s mom. She’s abrasive, controlling, mentally abusive, prejudiced … the list goes on. And yet, Vesper wants so badly to please her.

Relationship Status: Sidekick

I know your squadron’s full-up, Book, but I really want to be part of your crew. Can’t you find room for me? I’m a quick learner, and I’m stronger than I look.

Literary Matchmaking

The 100 (The 100 #1)

You might have heard of Morgan’s other books, a little-known series that starts with The 100.

Defy the Stars (Constellation #1)

Another great series that’s set in space and features some military aspects (and swoon!) is Claudia Gray’s Constellation series, starting with Defy the Stars.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

And no list of space-set science fiction YA would be complete without mentioning Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman’s Illuminae Files.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Little, Brown, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Light Years is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.