Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Orpheus Plot

Sweidler, Christopher. The Orpheus Plot. 
June 15th 2021 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In a world where Miners who live in the asteroid belt ("Belters") don't much like the Navy who regulates them, Lucas Adebayo still wants to join the Navy. His adopted sister, Tali, has been accepted into training school on the ship Orpheus, since she was born on Mars but came to live with Lucas and his father after her parents were killed. Lucas hopes she can get him into the academy, but she is surprisingly reluctant. When a chance encounter results in him being admitted, he is thrilled but a littler wary. Luckily, most of the other students are kind, and he finds good friends in Rahul, Maria, and Elena. Some of Lucas' academics are poor, but he makes up for them by having real world skills in flying and mechanical maintenance. When the group travels off ship, he meets some sketchy people who give him a chip, and while he's leery of using it, Rahul thinks he can diagnose it without it connecting to the Orpheus' computers. Unfortunately, it does just that, and lets a group of Belters bent on revolution onto the ship. Even the Rieschling Base is overtaken, so the students have nowhere to turn. Even Tali is suspect, but Lucas and his friends need to use all of their skills to deal with the chaos and try to find some way to save themselves and their school. 
Strengths: The set up of Lucas' world gives us just enough information to pull us right in and join his journey from Belter (where personal hygiene is hard!) to cadet, where there are new uniforms and big responsibilities. The fact that his academics are a little weak but his work ethic helps him is a great message. Tali is a fascinating character who has hidden depths. The cadets work well together and put their knowledge to good use, and of course get the better of their oppressors. A fast-paced, interesting science fiction adventure!
Weaknesses: I wish that the Belters had found a better way to change their situation than taking over ships, but it certainly makes for an intense story!
What I really think: Perfect for readers who want a little more space adventures like Landers' Blastaway or Levy's Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy, or this author's fantastic In the Red.  There is always room in a library collection for books with what I think of as a Star Trek vibe-- they boldly go where no one has gone before and have a variety of adventures without veering into dystopia. 

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