Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.
But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.
They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.
Descriptions of panic attacks, blood, descriptions of wounds, talk of sex
Oh. My. Gosh. I loved this book! I mean, I figured I’d like this book, but I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about it after I put it down! (Or after I turned it off, rather, since I listened to the audiobook.)
So let me start off by saying that I think Nax is one of my new favorite characters ever. He’s so well-written to the point that I connected with him a lot even though I haven’t been through many of the things he goes through in the story. There’s just something about his sense of humor, the depth of his emotions, and the history of this character that really struck me. Of course, Nax isn’t the only one to be impressed by. There’s also Rion, the charismatic son of a British politician; Case, the genius who went to college at 15 to kill time until she was old enough to join the Academy; Zee, a kickass trans girl nurse from Kazakhstan; and Asra, the heart and soul of the rebellion against (ironically) her father’s terrorist attack.
So just by describing the characters, I’m sure you can see there’s SO much happening in this story. And it’s all so well woven together. It’s your classic story of a group of misfit strangers coming together and ending with a hella strong friendship. But there’s the added twist of deciding to put everything on the line to do the right thing. This group of four (all mentioned above except Asra because she comes in later) quickly realizes they may be literally the only ones in the universe who are able to do something about the terrorist attack that has been orchestrated to wipe out all the colonized planets in the other parts of the universe.
There is so much social commentary on an even larger scale than I expected. In The Disasters, we’re not just dealing our own planet, but tons of others that humans now live on thanks to space explorations. Speaking of those colonized planets, the catch with them is that once you fly past a certain point of the universe into the colonies, you can never return to Earth again. But our fantastic four deem it a necessary evil to save millions, if not billions of people.
So yeah, there’s a lot at stake here, but it’s still a fairly light-hearted read. You have to remember that the five characters at the forefront of this story are only teenagers. I mean, that’s why it’s a Young Adult book, but these teens actually act their age! That shouldn’t be so surprising, but there are too many YA authors that forget or don’t get it right. But these teens make dumb decisions, make sex jokes, use slang, and make mistakes.
I also need to talk about the family and mental illness elements of this before I wrap up. These are two pretty strong themes for the main character Nax, and they bleed into the others as well. It’s clear from the get-go that Nax has a complicated relationship with his brother. And Asra’s relationship with her biological father than never acted like a real father is strained to say the least. Not to spoil anything, but Nax’s relationship with his brother Malik is a big reason why he has what appears to be PTSD. (Not to armchair diagnose a fictional person but I think that’s what England’s getting at.) There’s so much more I want to say about this subplot but I’m trying to keep this review spoiler free!! Also on the topic of mental illness, Case deals with panic attacks and mentions being on anxiety medication.
Final thought: If you haven’t read this book, you need to get a copy ASAP because this is honestly the best book released in 2018. Don’t let its December release date make you skip over it! And if I haven’t convinced you, then you should watch M.K. England’s video with five reasons why you should read it.