SOUND is the stand-alone companion to Alexandra Duncan’s acclaimed novel Salvage, a debut that internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins called “kick-ass, brilliant, feminist science fiction.” For fans of Beth Revis, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica.
As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole—along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia—embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever.
If it’s one thing I’ve noted in 2015 is what a fantastic year it’s been for Young Adult science fiction: Illuminae and Scorpion Rules are in the running for the top spots on my Best of list for 2015, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Wandering Star, the sequel to another beloved book, Zodiac. And with the increase of the science-fiction stories comes an increase in the diversity of the characters telling the stories. It’s win-win all around. And if Sound doesn’t quite reach the same heights as the first two books mentioned, it’s certainly not for a lack of trying: the bar has just been set that high.
Sound is indeed a stand-alone novel – I’d no idea it was even considered a sequel until I saw it mentioned in the summary – about a girl who is in essence so lonely, she hacks the system so she can join a space mission that she’s too young to join by several years, and in essence, the consequences of that decision. Early on the in book, the Miyole allows a pirate to escape, and subsequently blames herself for the kidnapping of Cassia’s brother which sets our plot into motion. Is it really her fault? Probably not. And the choice to go after Cassia’s brother feels like such an illogical decision, but at the same point in time, it’s just the kind of irrational decision that a teenager would actually make (in other words: there’s a reason that the minimum age for service on missions like this is eighteen!) and so our plot gets going.
There is a lot to like here: Miyole is smart and independent. We get to see her fall in love and get her heart broken by Cassia. We see her squabble with a flyer name Rubio and the eventual friendship that forms. We see her face life and death situations and find no end of bravery in her even when she herself thinks she’s just about run out. She’s an admirable main character, and you want her to pull through.
My main gripe with this story is that it feels heavy handed. We get backstory of how Miyole learned about how her Haitian ancestors rose up against indentured servants-turned slaves. So when the same thing happens in this world, what do you know, Miyole feels obliged to do something about it. Here’s the thing: it wasn’t needed. Miyole is clearly a girl with a good heart. She could have wound up in the exact same situation without that backstory and believably made the same choices and beyond that, Miyole is an orphan. Why does one of the few things we get to learn about her have to be her pride in her ancestors fight against the man, so to speak? It’s noble for sure, but it just seems like an odd thing to emphasize for a backstory.
Overall, Sound is a solid bit of sci-fi with a few lovely moments. If you’re a fan, give it a look.
Verdict: A solid borrow it