Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean, in this thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins called it "brilliant, feminist science fiction."
Ava is the captain's daughter. This allows her limited freedom and a certain status in the Parastrata's rigid society—but it doesn't mean she can read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. When Ava learns she is to be traded in marriage to another merchant ship, she hopes for the best. After all, she is the captain's daughter. But instead, betrayal, banishment, and a brush with love and death are her destiny, and Ava stows away on a mail sloop bound for Earth in order to escape both her past and her future. The gravity almost kills her. Gradually recuperating in a stranger's floating cabin on the Gyre, a huge mass of scrap and garbage in the Pacific Ocean, Ava begins to learn the true meaning of family and home and trust—and she begins to nourish her own strength and soul. This sweeping and harrowing novel explores themes of choice, agency, rebellion, and family, and after a tidal wave destroys the Gyre and all those who live there, ultimately sends its main character on a thrilling journey to Mumbai, the beating heart of Alexandra Duncan's post–climate change Earth. An Andre Norton Award nominee.
Duncan makes an excellent debut with a novel that's part feminist polemic and part coming-of-age adventure. In a space-faring future, supply ship "crewes" have developed into patriarchal tribes, with strict gender roles and a mythology to justify them: "Women of the air, stay aloft," the girls of the vessel Parastrata are warned. Ava is considered to be deviant for several reasons: she is of suspect Earthly descent, and she has a knack for both math and mechanical engineering, disciplines that are forbidden to women on her ship. After further transgressing Parastrata's laws through a romantic encounter, she is cast out into the Void. With a fierce desire to survive and with the help of a female spaceship captain named Perp tue, Ava escapes space for the deadly gravity of Earth, where she eventually discovers emotional, sexual, and intellectual liberation. Duncan's thoroughly realized setting and subtle control of Ava's voice result in a powerfully immersive story that uses its far-future SF premise to thoughtfully explore gender politics. Ages 13 up.