I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In Victories Greater Than Death, the first in a trilogy, Tina has known for some time now that she’s not a human—she’s actually a clone of one of the most famous alien commanders in the galaxies. So when an alien spaceship arrives to save her from mortal danger on Earth, she doesn’t hesitate. But she wonders if she can live up to who she is supposed to be, especially now that she has to help save the world.
So I’d heard good things about Anders, so when I got an ARC of her young adult debut, I thought I’d give it a try. And overall, it wasn’t bad, though it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever read.
I liked Tina and the other characters well enough (except the antagonist, of course; he was scary). However, I feel like I didn’t get to know them very well; their personalities and development were rather shallow. Even if there’s more books planned, there still should have been more—and stronger—characterization in this one.
The plot was interesting, but I wanted to know more about pretty much everything, from the life of the woman Tina was cloned from to the interplanetary relations. It was kind of a Star Trek–like organization that Tina is part of, and I wanted to learn more.
That said, I question the sense this organization has, recruiting literal children. Perhaps discussing the reality of the situation is foolish, but I don’t understand why this scientifically advanced extraterrestrial spaceship would recruit teenagers, rather than adults with life experience. Yes, they recruit brilliant, intellectually gifted teens, but still. This decision was clearly just a weird writing mechanism to get a young cast of characters, but I had trouble suspending disbelief for this.
I feel like I’m being harsh, and this book really isn’t as bad as I feel like I’m making it sound. I enjoyed the space shenanigans, the friendships and relationships that formed, and the casual way LGBTQ characters were presented in this story. The banter overall was fun, the spaceship battles were exciting, and the atmosphere (pun not intended) was decent. I just wished there had been… more of everything, somehow.
Final note: There was a character called Uiuiuiui, and I nearly lost my mind trying to figure out how to pronounce it. Send help.
Overall rating: 7.7/10
Victories Greater Than Death will be published on April 13th, 2021!