DNF: Alight

After the disaster that was Alive, I was fed up with this clichéd attempt at a YA series.  And yet, Alive hooked me with the last few chapters.  Curses!  Incredibly (and irritatingly), I was curious to see where this story of super-hot and ridiculously smart vat-grown teenagers IN SPACE would go once they landed on the planet below.

So here we are with Alight.  I didn't read this one all the way through--I made it maybe 20% and then skimmed to the end.  The entire mood of this book is extremely different from its predecessor, which should be a good thing, but instead, it becomes a tired reworking of the teens-band-together-or-not-to-rebuild-society trope that we have in so many books--not just YA.  Think Lord of the Flies meets The 100 but on a different planet with aliens.  Parts of the book--especially those involving alliances and occupying a tower, were heavily reminiscent of the Red Rising trilogy.

Right off the bat, Sigler gives us some .... interesting character descriptions.  "Okereke is a circle, like me, short and thick with muscle.  He has the darkest skin of any of us, almost as black as that of the monsters."  Nice.  Equating having dark skin with being a monster.  That's not offensive at all!

And then we have this gem regarding a character intended to be of Asian descent: "Her eyes are so thin I can barely tell they're open."

How and why did an editor think this was okay?  This is not an acceptable way to describe people of different ethnicities and is certainly not a successfully diverse book.

And in case you missed the Catholic schoolgirl naughty look from the last book, fear not, for it is still here!

"My shredded plaid skirt barely covers me."  "There is no ignoring the fact that she wears nothing but a tattered skirt.  Her nakedness makes me want to look away; she doesn't seem to notice it."

I get it.  You have boobs and legs and hips.  You are sexxxxyyyyyyyy.  You are running around naked.  Do you want some sort of award?

I ended up skimming after all the teens venture outside of the ship and resident fanatic Aramovsky starts yelling about religion and stuff.  Basically, they meet some aliens, and at first the aliens are scary, but then they all kumbaya together and fight a common enemy.  The teens are divided against each other because Aramovsky turns a bunch of the little kids into die-hard zealots.

Literally the entire book is people arguing with each other or finding new words and remarking, "Ooooh, a new word!" or fighting aliens.  That's it.  It is a fighty book.  There's no real tension, and the big reveal about Em is ... eh.  Sigler ends with another WHAT? moment but I cannot even anymore with his "characterization" or plotting, so I won't be touching the last book at all.  I promise.  I have so many better things to do with my life.

Mercifully, there is no pretentious author's note at the end of this one telling readers not to be spoilery and mean (I ranted about this here), but I feel like Sigler is drifting away from what he does really well, which is hard-hitting, super-gross adult horror.  I'm sure publishers are pushing the YA angle for a lot of authors because it is super-popular right now and they figure they can make lots of money, but that doesn't mean these books need to exist.  Really.  The world will continue spinning if Famous Adult Author does not write a YA trilogy.  I promise.

If you want a good teens in space book, read Illuminae.

I received an ARC of this title from Netgalley.


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