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Genuine, Unapologetically Diverse And Absolutely Brilliant An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Shiver shiver, tremble tremble. I am not nervous about writing this review at all. I do not have any of my typical book was too good to write a review for it jumbles. Nope. Feeling at my most confident here. *escapes*

An Unkindness of Ghosts

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★★★★★  5+++ stars

Can we just agree to make this book as famous as possible and leave it at that? No? I’ll have to elaborate?.. Oh.. Alright…

So… We’ve got a spaceship that has escaped a dying Earth centuries ago. Naturally, it’s failing. Of course, due to various constrictions, combined with pure human nature, the ship is authoritarian, slavery-driven and as violent an environment as can be. We find ourselves following the story through the eyes of several of the characters, but most of them are based on the lower decks, as the ‘lowest form of life’. You can see where this is about to get challenging. We explore life through their eyes and search for all sorts of meaning, explore all sorts of existences.

So let’s just look at the reasons of why I would recommend this book, and let me tell you in advance, there was not a thing I was unhappy with it. This book is PURE AMAZEMENT and I think absolutely everyone should read it. Yes, it was that good and important.

The Book Is Diverse Without Appearing To Try To, Plus, It’s #OwnVoices

I don’t know if I’m making it clear, but I think you know what I mean. Diversity is important, and it’s sought out right now – but sometimes authors only try ‘to make the quota’ – and so insert diverse characters into their books as placeholders. They’re just sort of there, but they feel so forced. This is not the case at all in this book! I think it’s partly because it’s #OwnVoices, plus – it’s just so well done emotionally. The diversity is just there. It doesn’t try to convert you, it doesn’t try to fight a cause, it doesn’t try to explain itself. It’s just there. And it’s so naturally diverse you can’t help understanding it, relating to it, championing it. It’s not diverse in the placeholder sense, it throws away any labels! Even the labels diverse groups use for themselves. It’s diverse on, well, pretty much molecular level, as I’d say metaphorically? You don’t have to belong to a group to exist and be validated – it’s alright if you belong to a group of ‘you’. That’s enough.

The Ship Is An Amazing Analogy Of Captivity

I found this most fascinating. Yes, a spaceship is a spaceship, it’s part of a scifi story. But, at the same time, I felt like it symbolized so much more! Being indentured means there simply being no means of escape, wherever you go, whatever you do. And what better symbol of that is there than a dying spaceship? I feel like this draws an amazing comparison to the life of an enslaved, trapped person. Your life is limited to not even being able to control the choices regarding your own body, much less choices of how your life progresses. This is truly a song to all enslaved peoples, not just slavery in the history of America. My heart wept at the tale, and I believe, so will yours.

I Have Never Read A More Relatable Tale Of Slavery

I have read stories on slavery. Even written by the slaves themselves, stories of their escape. Fictional stories too. And although I could feel empathy towards them, they are stories from another life – a life elsewhere, a life in a totally different time. That automatically makes it harder for us to relate. But a life almost like our own? In a technical environment, and yet – enslaved? That is so much more approachable. And it’s also so well-written in terms of depicting emotions that I feel it taught me much more about captivity than any of the tales I’ve read before.

Emotion Even Among The Rubble

I could have said love. But I don’t want to make this cheap. This is no love story. This is not about a love story. Yet a love story is ever-present. And I’m not talking about between man and woman, or lovers, or whatever you have it. I am talking about human love, soul love – love of the bigger kind. No pain and suffering can be survived without it, and this book is so good about showing it. Human affection, human bonds. It blooms like a flower in the wastelands. It charms you with the way it does. And it gives you hope in a whole world full of destruction.

Non-Neurotypical Characters

It’s hard to say, and I’m obviously groping in the dark here, but I think the main character Aster might be on the spectrum, or at least some kind of non-neurotypical. As everything of the diverse kind in this book, it’s not overtly mentioned – but not because it’s taboo, rather because it’s cultural of the ship – there are no such concepts in this society (I’m not sure the concept of ‘woman’ is even present in this society, as the lower deck slaves are without an exception all women.) The way Aster is, is not treated as a deficiency in the book, it’s treated as a way to be. It’s explained so understandably that you will relate and empathise even if you’re nothing like Aster yourself. And it’s not limited to the main character either – Giselle, Aster’s best friend, suffers from mental illness bouts as well, and it’s also presented in a great way, easy to pick up and understand. None of the characters are even looked down on for the way they are, whatever they’re like.

Overall...

I could go on. The plot, the setting, the writing, the way you’re transported into this incredible world. Keep in mind I listened to this book on a read-back app! And yet it still felt every bit as magical as if I was reading it (usually, books read back to you by a mechanized voice are harder to get into.) But I believe you should discover this book for yourselves. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, even if you’re not so much into scifi – it’s more character-driven anyway. Scifi is only the setting, the backdrop. The real stuff you’re reading about is the condition of being human in a society that is horribly skewed for particular kinds of be.

Something for the people who have read this already: I will admit I am a little puzzled about the ending, so feel free to discuss it with me more in the comments if you’ve read it.

I thank Rivers Solomon and Akashic Books for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. I already can’t wait for Rivers Solomon’s next book! You can get An Unkindness of Ghosts here at Book Depository, and by buying it through the link, you support this blog.

Have you read any great #OwnVoices reads this year? Were any of them set in space as well? Talk to me in the comments!

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

30 thoughts on “Genuine, Unapologetically Diverse And Absolutely Brilliant An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

    1. It’s staring back at me as well, every time I visit your blog 😀 that is just SUCH a pretty cover though, isn’t it. I’ll be super curious about your review! Especially about your opinion of the ending.

    1. 😀 I’m glad I fixed it! I really do wonder what you’ll think about it – cause lately you seem to dislike what I like 😀 (the Ocean, etc… BTW, how is the Fifth Season going?), but when it comes to topics, this book definitely has all its reasons in the right place 🙂

  1. Gah! I kind of hate you right now, Evelina! Because I want this book SO badly now! And I kind of want it right now. It sounds spectacular, both because of the setting, and because of the overall feel you got from it. I think that a book that makes you feel it has more to do with human condition and the violence humans are capable on has to have strong voices. And yeah… going to amz right now 😉
    Awesome review!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Review: Van – Sawyer BennettMy Profile

    1. 😀 that’s the best way to hate me, you know 😀 I know your blog focuses on books different than this, and this is much much darker, but I thought you would enjoy this one for sure. It’s just so strong, and it covers topics very important for women. So I felt like you’d like it.

      Please send me a link to your review if you do review it 🙂 I really want to discuss it, and also I’m very curious about what you will think about that ending.

  2. Um, where has this book been all my life?! I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve heard about it, but clearly I need a copy ASAP. I love the idea of a space story that tackles slavery, but add in well written diverse characters and I’m all over this! Thanks for putting An Unkindness of Ghosts on my radar, Evelina.
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Mini Reviews: The Queer SFF EditionMy Profile

    1. I know right!! This book hasn’t been on enough blogs. I’ve just seen it on maybe two! And that’s after I got the ARC on Edelweiss even. Such a lucky grab, huh 🙂 I really hope you get to read it, and I also really hope I won’t miss your review. I know this book will be on every single “books of the year” list I make when the New Year comes.
      Also. DAT COVER. How perfect is it, right??

    1. Oh wow, six months? I sure hope you can get out of that slump 🙂 I’m so glad you liked the review. Yes, this is definitely a great #ownvoices read. Just so powerful! I’d love to see tour review of it 🙂
      Also, isn’t that cover just absolutely gorgeous?

  3. WHHAATT?! How haven’t I heard this one before?! It’s like .. RIGHT UP MY ALLEY! 😀 <3 I love scifi but this brings ANOTHER GAME TO IT :O From the spaceship symbolizing so much more, a tale of slavery with great depth and emotional scenes? THIS . IS . ALL. I . NEED. Putting it right on my TBR 😀 The scariest part of all scifi I think its how it could all happen to us one day… And that line when you say where you can feel empathy for them because its so relatable how they have all this technology but feel enslaved, totally made sense in our world 🙂 Super review !!

    1. Thank you 🙂 this book is actually so much better than what I even wrote about it! I never feel like I can do it justice when I’m reviewing a favorite. And also, a review is too short to put everything into it anyway. And this book had so many layers!
      I’m also really curious about what you would think about the ending.

  4. I’m so glad this review exists! I haven’t read the book but I love the way you wrote about it. Just the title itself sounds poetic. I love the setting described and how you spoke about human love and bond being a saving grace. Like yes, I need that!

    I want to read this so badly, although I’ll have to wait for a bit because I’m on a book buying ban at the moment! Perhaps I’ll save this for my Christmas wishlist 😉
    Cam recently posted…[Blog Tour + Guest Post] IGNITED BY A.M. DEESE + Crafting Strong Women in YA FictionMy Profile

    1. Yeah, and the cover’s so pretty, it totally works as a Christmas gift to yourself 😀 I would love to have it in print too, actually. The cover is some real artwork. But of course, what I love most is what it has to say 🙂 some really strong and good messages. I hope you get to read it and I hope it doesn’t disappoint 🙂
      Thank you for reading my review!

  5. An Unkindness of Ghosts…your Reason #4 alone makes me place this on my “must read” list. I so enjoy your reviews, and this one is tops!

  6. Gosh. I mean… Just he way you were gushing over this piece every since you read it gave me an idea of how good it must be, but I’m glad now to see this wonderful review tells us exactly why it is so darn good. I love the analogy between spaceships and captivity. The whole slavery theme is also greatly fascinating. I do love a good book on the subject that helps you understand the atrocity and help you empathize with the characters too. Again, great review on this book Evelina! Hope it does grab the attention of more readers out there! It sounds wonderful.
    Lashaan Balasingam recently posted…The Punisher (TV Series 2017—) Season 1 ReviewMy Profile

    1. I know right, I’ve just been talking about this book nonstop all the while I was reading it 😀
      I don’t even feel like I listed all the points why it was so wonderful! You know how it is with a good book. You don’t feel like you can ever truly cover everything you loved about it.
      Thanks for reading, Lashaan 🙂

  7. OH I OFFICIALLY REALLY WANT THIS NOW!! I mean, sci-fi isn’t really my best genre buuut I love diversity (especially #ownvoices) and I think it’s really important when it’s incorporated into genres that aren’t just contemporaries, right?! Plus it sounds really exceptionally well written.

    A really great #ownvoices book I’ve read this year is probably The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue (for the bi rep) and Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman which is biracial Japanese/American rep. Both are so so good!! Ahh!!

    1. You know, when I left a comment on your blog, this was like 2 posts back on CommentLuv, but I was like… Cait is going to so get hooked for that headline, and I was RIGHT 😀 haha. Well, thing is, I believe you would truuuly like that book. And there are just so many reasons!!! I believe I’ve named at least a few of them in the post. And last but not least, look at that Bookstagram worthy cover. Please please obtain it somehow! I WANT TO SEE THOSE PICS.

      As for scifi, yep, this is… Not really scifi so much. You could say it’s set in a ship, but that’s all. It’s more about people and relationships, about society.

      Oh I know the Gentleman’s Guide! You’ve talked about it enough, and so have others 🙂 but I don’t really enjoy romance that much, so that’s why I skipped it 😀 I’ve heart brilliant things about Starfish though! That one I may one day read 🙂

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