Nominated for the Cybils by Kate Coombs.
May wax a little enthusiastic about this book because I have been hankering for some good, old fashioned science fiction, if such an animal exists. Something more Star Trek than Soylent Green.
Asteria has a dull life farming on Theron. This comes to a brutal and abrupt end when raiders attack the farm and kill both her father and cousin. Having no other relatives, but finding a legacy notification to the Academy, she escapes the overly religious Bourse who want to marry her off so the farm can go to one of them, debates presenting herself as a boy, and shows up at the Academy and gets admitted on the strength of her father's heroism in a horrific spaceship attack. She meets Dai, another commoner who knows more about what academy life is like, but runs afoul of Lord Mastral, whom she bests in a fight. Determined to gain a commission at find the raiders who Kayser, killed her family, Asteria studies hards, learns the ropes, and puts up with the indignities heaped upon her by the bratty Kayser. Unfortunately, Kayser's family has it in for Asteria, and their revenge may extend as far as planning evil for her home planet.
Strengths: Space ships, technology (may I have a pulsebook instead of a Kindle?), a futuristic society that is NOT dystopic!!! It's not perfect either, but the problems come from other humans. Well written. The straight forward, easily flowing prose drew me in right from the start, and I read every word. I usually skim... a lot.
Weaknesses: Felt I was missing some explanation about the Aristocracy, and the book is available only in paperback, like the Marooned series, which is just criminal.