Hey wow, a gender-friendly YA sci-fi book? Color me surprised.
Here’s the problem I notice with all kinds of YA these days; the young women in them are either complete pushovers or they’re just insane action hero men that happen to have vaginas. This story does something right with both of its female leads. Ore is that sort of super-tough girl that I referred to, but we find out she’s only become the monster she appears to be because of how men (and one man in particular) have constantly victimized her. She refuses to be a victim, or tries to refuse it, but she still wears the scars of her victimhood (very literally) on her sleeve. Arm. Whatever.
And then there’s Ana! Oh my god, Ana. When I was twelve, I would have hated her for being such a shallow, inconsistent barrel of crazy. When I was eighteen, I think I would have identified her as the sort of person I would NEVER be. These days, I just love everything about her. She reminds me in many ways of Cersei from Game of Thrones. She’s intelligent enough to notice that men are in charge of everything, and so does her best to appeal to men. When men keep pushing her over the edge, and then the world explodes because of the earthquake, she just loses it. I. Love. Her!
This still isn’t going into the other characters who have so many fun and funny layers to them. I think I could read about Samson and Partner forever. Gary is just EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG with the world and I still felt bad for him a little bit. Victor is the other half of what’s wrong with the world, but he had even less say about it than Gary, and Victor has the decency to be competent. Even the historian, who I suspect is male though I’m not sure it’s ever revealed, is very interesting. We learn a lot by him just by the way he muses about what he’s recording, which I enjoyed a lot, and I came to look forward to his little sidebars about the political systems of the day and the weirdness surrounding Petrov.