A galaxy-spanning space opera about two lost souls determined to prove themselves.
As the adopted human child of two more-than-human parents known as "alloys," Jayanthi wants nothing more than to prove she has the skills to design new genomes. But when her mentor tells her she’ll never achieve her goals, she starts to look for another way to prove her worth. When she realizes that her sickle-cell disorder could actually be a beneficial adaptation on the newly discovered planet of Meru, her mentor comes up with a new plan—to send Jayanthi herself to Meru in an attempt to prove that humans can once again be allowed to explore the universe without making harmful changes to a planet’s biosphere. Meanwhile, Vaha, an alloy whose body is adapted to live in the vacuum of space, is desperate to prove that zie isn’t the failure as a pilot that zir maker believed zie was. With no other offers for work coming in, Vaha jumps at the chance to carry Jayanthi to Meru, continue practicing new types of flight in orbit around a planet, and hopefully fulfill zir maker’s ultimate design for zir life. Throwing two lonely people with something to prove together is a great recipe for drama, and these characters and their relationship do create a strong throughline for the novel. The world presented here is rich and complicated, but it’s so different from our own that the resulting exposition and explanations can have the effect of distancing the reader from the characters. Still, the love story, plus plenty of jaw-dropping space scenes, will reward readers patient enough to explore this far-future world.
A complex and sometimes slow-moving but ultimately rewarding novel.