Review: The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon (The Vela: Season #1)

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ARC received from the publisher (Serial Box) in exchange for an honest review.

I pounced at the opportunity to read this barely holding back the squeeing. You mean a story written by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon? YES PLEASE   I haven’t read any serials before (I have been planning to poke into Tremontaine, but, well, Mt. TBR), but just from the line-up, this was bound to be good. And it was! As I hoped, this turned out to be exactly the sort of sci-fi I love the most – character-focused, with a side of social commentary. Honestly, I can’t wait for the sequel.

The sun is dying thanks to overzealous hydrogen mining, making the outer planets quickly become uninhabitable thanks to the cold and creating waves of refugees. One refugee ship in particular, the titular Vela, is especially significant – and it has gone missing.

Enter our two protagonists: Asala is a refugee herself, a mercenary more concerned with her own survival than anything else. Niko is the idealistic, somewhat naive youngest child of the Khayyami president who has a talent for hacking and cares deeply about refugees and environmental issues, but has lived a very sheltered life. They reminded me a bit of an overeager puppy at the beginning, desperate to prove themself, but it’s clear that they’re no idiot. Of course, both go through a lot of growth and development over the course of the story because no mission is as simple as it seems.

I have to say I was a bit worried how a story where each chapter was written by a different author would work, but it turned out to be a non-issue. Each author was played to their strengths (those strategic Becky Chambers feels…) and I didn’t notice any gaping differences in style or characters between them. Not enough to bother me. It’s heavy on the themes, and very relevant as well, but to me, that makes it all the more worth reading. It’s a story of an imperfect world, of people trying to do their best, and despite the setting being somewhat of a dystopia, there’s hope. I also appreciated how queer, disabled, and/or PoC characters are not only there as they/we are here in real life, but they actively take the spotlight.

If I had any issues, they’re mostly minor quibbles of a personal nature. I hate when characters are put into awkward and potentially embarrassing situations and Niko’s initial naiveté provided a couple too many opportunities like this. Later on, there was also what I thought was a jarringly out of character moment…but a more detailed breakdown would quickly stray into spoilers, so I’ll end it here.

Regardless, it’s a wonderful serial asking some tough questions and I’d highly recommend it.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: fans of any of the above authors, those looking for representation, those who prefer soft sci-fi
Not recommended to: fans of hard sci-fi, those looking for a lighter/fluffier read, those who prefer a clear right and wrong side

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10 thoughts on “Review: The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon (The Vela: Season #1)”

  1. ah, Mt. TBR, that unscalable peak 📚 but I’m so glad you found the time for this book, because it sounds amazing: the rep, the social awareness, the lovable characters … and I especially love that there’s consistency between authors since that’s always a big thing for me. *bookmarked, added, highly anticipated*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m aways wary at first by books co-written by different authors but in the end, usually they tend to surprise me. This sounds like one of those ‘usually’ ones that’s really good! I’ll keep it in mind for future reading! Thanks for writing up the great review–I probably wouldn’t have heard of this book(serial) otherwise!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, another from my tbr just looming over me but I really want to read this one because you just don’t have as many sci-fi books with any sort of rep, I mean that’s changing, and they are out there but we could always deal with more. Totally going to give this a read, so glad you enjoyed it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup. This is why I generally tend towards modern sci-fi books over classics (though there are always exceptions of course – Le Guin and Arnason for example). More rep, less sexism, generally more likely to enjoy them/less likely to come out on the other side pissed off.

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  4. I LOVED The Vela! One of my best scifi reads this year, for sure. And so new, so different! So diverse. I was also worried about the different authors, but I can’t believe how well they’ve done it 🙂 I didn’t think that was even possible. I really hope there’s a season 2!

    Liked by 1 person

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