- Title: Redemption
- Author: Mike Schlossberg
- Series: The Spades Trilogy, #1
- Genre: YA Sci-Fi, Mental Health
- Publishing Date: June 5th, 2018
- Publishing Co.: Ellysian Press
- Length: 414 pages
- Format: Paperback, Kindle
- Acquired: Given digital copy in exchange for a review
- Amazon Link: Redemption
Twenty young people wake aboard the spaceship Redemption with no memory how they got there.
Asher Maddox went to sleep a college dropout with clinical depression and anxiety. He wakes one hundred sixty years in the future to assume the role as captain aboard a spaceship he knows nothing about, with a crew as in the dark as he is.
Yanked from their everyday lives, the crew learns that Earth has been ravaged by the Spades virus – a deadly disease planted by aliens. They are tasked with obtaining the vaccine that will save humanity, while forced to hide from an unidentified, but highly advanced enemy.
Half a galaxy away from Earth, the crew sets out to complete the quest against impossible odds. As the enemy draws closer, they learn to run the ship despite their own flaws and rivalries. But they have another enemy . . . time. And it’s running out.
First Chapter Challenge: 4%
So, I have basically no idea as to what is going on! In this first chapter, we meet a lot of different characters, and Ash seems to be our main guy. It looks like a bunch of teenager-ish aged kids woke up in a strange place (which is moving, by the way!) all together, without any knowledge of how they got there. Last they can remember, they were all asleep in their respective beds.
Already, there is tension. Kids are scared, personalities are clashing, and mystery abounds! Action is just around the corner, as the chapter ends with an explosion. I want to know how these kids got here, why, and what they’re gonna do now that they are here. I can tell you one thing already, I’m rooting for my boy, Ash! Let’s see if I made a wise decision, shall we?
Final Judgment: 5 Stars out of 5
Trigger Warning: Discussion of mental health including anxiety and depression
“Redemption. That is a really interesting name for a ship which seems to have pulled a group of teenagers out of their beds and into space.” (Loc 456)
As I began reading this novel, it felt slightly familiar, like the lingering residue of sugar in my mouth. And I realized, this novel is basically Lord of the Flies X Star Trek! We’ve got a bunch of kids (albeit older than those in Lord of the Flies), with no supervision whatsoever (disregarding the very brief supervision given by Valiant and his crew aboard the Remedy), and who have never met prior to this strange experience. The kids are trapped in an unfamiliar setting, far away from home, and are left up to their own devices to decide what to do next. Ash is strangely reminiscent of Ralph (leadership and civilization), and Anton definitely plays the part of Jack (unbridled fear/savagery and desire for power) each from the very beginning of the novel. Perhaps Jameson is Piggy (symbolizing the intellectual and scientific aspects of civilization)? The kids have to fight an internal war on the ship, figuring out whether they should sacrifice their own lives to help the strangers on Earth or save their own skins.
“You are all forgetting, take away the veneer of civilization-the laws, the guns, the courts–and it all falls apart. Civilization is artificial…” (Loc 2762)
As for the Star Trek similarity, besides from the obvious space ships and saving the world gambit, the way the Redemption is run on the bridge is almost like something straight out of one of the movies/TV shows. Each crew member is vital, with their own specific station that they are uniquely attuned to running adeptly (with the exception of also having a backup crew member for each station–AKA the Back Brigade).
Anxiety attacks didn’t mean some dramatic collapse or the need to be buckled into a straight-jacket… Anxiety took you and placed you in a box, and gradually that box shrank on you. As the walls closed in, it took everything from you: your friends, your ability to form meaningful relationships, your hope for a better day… (Loc 680)
With this idea of Lord of the Flies X Star Trek, I actually began to analyze the novel deeper. It isn’t just for entertainment purposes, though it does do an amazing job keeping me on the edge of my seat! But, it also has something larger to say, to point out to the world. I loved how blunt Schlossberg was in describing depression, anxiety, and coping with traumatic situations. Notice how each of the crew members are dealing with their own inner demons, highlighted by their commander Ash. Throughout the book, he battles depression and anxiety while simultaneously attempting to be the leader his crew needs him to be. Michael Schlossberg does a phenomenal job exploring the effects of flagging mental health on teenagers, and how those people deal in crisis… And then how to overcome such disadvantageous, at least temporarily. There is no quick, easy answer to fix mental health, and I love how this is shown in the book. Each character must develop and grow with their mental issues right there next to them. Their mental health is a part of who they are, but it does not need to define them.
“A measure of leadership isn’t what you are stuck with, but how you deal with it.” (Loc 772).
Okay, so enough about my deep analyses of the book! On to the more superficial entertainment part. 🙂 In the beginning, there are a lot of names and descriptions, and it is very difficult (at least for me) to keep up. It took me until about halfway through the novel before I really understood who was on who’s side, Ash’s or Anton’s. That is where the main struggle lies internally. As if trying to save the world from a deadly virus in only a few weeks while invisible aliens could shoot them out of space at any moment was not enough!
It was also interesting that Schlossberg included climate change politics within the story, citing our ignorance and denial of climate change in our present time of 2018 to be the ultimate downfall of humanity. Whether or not you agree that climate change is indeed happening or important, there is enough fiction and sci-fi in the novel to keep you entertained and removed from the real-world political implications. Anything could be a conspiracy theory!
Was it worth it? Everything they were doing? Were they really going to be able to save mankind? Or were they just delaying the inevitable? (Loc 3715)
As I neared the end of the novel, I actually forgot that it was part of a trilogy. As such, I was shocked by the ending! Not only was there a possible twist, but I was left wanting for more! I cannot wait until the next book comes out, because I know that I am going to be following this trilogy until the end. And I’m not even a huge sci-fi nerd… Fantasy is where my heart lies. So this is worth mentioning!
*This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info