"Don't be alarmed - that dizzy pleasurable sensation you're experiencing is just your brain slowly exploding from all the wild magnificent worldbuilding in Nicky Drayden's Escaping Exodus. I loved these characters and this story, and so will you."
- Sam J. Miller, Nebula-Award-winning author of The Art of Starving and Blackfish City
The Compton Crook award–winning author of The Prey of Gods and Temper returns with a dazzling stand-alone novel, set in deep space, in which the fate of humanity rests on the slender shoulders of an idealistic and untested young woman—a blend of science fiction, dark humor, and magical realism that will appeal to fans of Charlie Jane Anders, Jeff VanderMeer, and Nnedi Okorafor.
Earth is a distant memory. Habitable extrasolar planets are still out of reach. For generations, humanity has been clinging to survival by establishing colonies within enormous vacuum-breathing space beasts and mining their resources to the point of depletion.
Rash, dreamy, and unconventional, Seske Kaleigh should be preparing for her future role as clan leader, but her people have just culled their latest beast, and she’s eager to find the cause of the violent tremors plaguing their new home. Defying social barriers, Seske teams up with her best friend, a beast worker, and ventures into restricted areas for answers to end the mounting fear and rumors. Instead, they discover grim truths about the price of life in the void.
Then, Seske is unexpectedly thrust into the role of clan matriarch, responsible for thousands of lives in a harsh universe where a single mistake can be fatal. Her claim to the throne is challenged by a rival determined to overthrow her and take control—her intelligent, cunning, and confident sister.
Seske may not be a born leader like her sister, yet her unorthodox outlook and incorruptible idealism may be what the clan needs to save themselves and their world.
The first SF novel from fantasy author Drayden (Temper) has high ambitions but is cramped and confusing. Centuries after humans abandoned the ravaged Earth to create colonies inside enormous starfaring beasts, teenage matriarch-in-training Seske emerges from stasis to discover the beast her people have chosen to inhabit may not be the safe harbor they'd hoped for. As her increasingly frail mother, Matris, pressures Seske to become the leader their imperiled people need, Seske buckles beneath the burdens of expectation and the price of being Matris's sole legitimate heir. Her cunning sister, left illegitimate and nameless by their society's draconian kinship rules, challenges Seske's claim to the throne at every turn, while Adalla, Seske's forbidden love, faces a cruel, demanding destiny as a beastworker who will toil all her life to keep the beast alive for those living in it. When Matris falls deathly ill, Seske is thrust into the role of matriarch and protector, ready or not. Complicated subplots (monsters, revolution, love triangles) compete with the main characters and their primary relationships; in the end, all are underdeveloped. Inconsistent characterization and confounding worldbuilding significantly limit the appeal of this disappointing novel.