by M.K. England
“Yeah, I know, I’m a bit of a disaster. But hey, aren’t we all? Doesn’t mean we can’t fly.”
Published Dec. 18, 2018 by HarperCollins
Genre: YA sci-fi
Date finished: Jan. 23, 2019
Content warnings: violence, anxiety, panic attacks
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.
My thoughts (spoiler free)
The Disasters; also entitled: five misfits reluctantly team up to save the universe — wait are you sure this isn’t Guardians of the Galaxy?
Joking aside, this book was a lot of fun. I’ve seen is described as Guardians of the Galaxy meets The Breakfast Club (though why does everything with a group of misfits have to be compared to The Breakfast Club?), and I’d say it also has a bit of a Percy Jackson feel in its style of narration. (Just…a bit more grown up.) It’s an exciting space adventure with fun characters and plenty of action!
Although the plot itself is pretty central, I’d say that the characters are the main focus of the story. Four of them have just washed out of space school and basically feel like failures, and the fifth joins them along the way.
Nax Hall is the narrator, a hotshot pilot from North Carolina with a healthy dose of sass mixed in with plenty of self-doubt. Nax is such a fun narrator; his voice shines through and brings plenty of humor to the writing.
The other characters are all experts in their own way, creating the other spokes of the team’s wheel. Zee is an incredible doctor (and also my favorite ❤️), Case is skilled with mechanics, Rion is good at diplomacy and politics, and Asra covers all the hacking and illegal stuff. They’re all so talented at their specific thing that I started out wondering how the heck they got kicked out of the Academy…but each has their own reason.
It is nice to have a group of characters who are highly skilled at their particular thing. They made a great team, after the initial bickering and reluctance to work together.
Plus, the team is super diverse! Four of the five are people of color, at least three are queer, and two (including Nax) are Muslim. It’s so great to see such diversity in a futuristic sci-fi story!
As for the story itself, I found myself having a bit of trouble following along with it, though that might also have just been me. It’s fast-paced and exciting with never a dull moment. Because this is a hard sci-fi, there were plenty of science-y and space-y terms, but I was able to understand them most of the time.
Nax’s voice, his humor and his self-doubt, is what made the story shine for me. Even during the scenes when they weren’t being chased or shot at, he had a witty commentary of everything going on and kept me invested all the way through. It might have been nice to have chapters from the POVs of the other characters, but at the same time, it would’ve been a shame to give up Nax’s narration for even a second!
Overall, this is a blast of a sci-fi novel, with fun and engaging characters and a brand new team of misfits for you to fall in love with. I was really impressed with this debut and I can’t wait to see what M.K. England comes out with next!
“It’s like a manifestation of every dream I’ve ever had, everything I’ve ever wanted for myself: a piloting license, a beautiful ship under me, and stars out the viewport. Child Nax says, ‘Do it, do the crime!’”