Four cadets from different worlds navigate their first year together at Quatra Fleet Academy, an elite space academy in the Quatra Federation, against the backdrop of interstellar war.
The Quatrans are entrenched in a 15-year-old battle with an enemy species, the Specters. For the first time, the Academy has decided to accept not only wealthy students from the planet Tri, but also poor Settlers from toxic Deva, frozen Chetire, and tropical Loos. The narrative fluidly interleaves the perspectives of four characters who are thrown together to form a squadron and who must compete to win a tournament. Vesper yearns to meet her admiral mother’s expectations but suffers from imposter syndrome. Cormak has faked his dead brother’s identity and may be caught and executed at any moment. Shy Arran has finally found a boy who makes him feel seen, but he’s the son of a powerful enemy. Orelia is really a Specter on a covert mission to discover the Academy’s secret location, but can she betray the first friends she’s ever known? The science is handled with a light touch, but the many space-combat scenarios are convincing enough to thrill ardent Trekkies. Several characters are described as having dark eyes, skin, and hair, but without any insight into cultures, languages, and beliefs, the differences between the haves and the have-nots seem no more than skin-deep.
A fun, fast-paced read laced with a froth of space romance. (Science fiction. 12-17)