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Reviewed by:
  • Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
  • Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor
Belleza, Rhoda Empress of a Thousand Skies. Razorbill, 2017 [320p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-101-99910-3 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-101-99912-7 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-10

Twelve years after the rest of the royal family of Kalu was killed in an accident, the now-teenaged Crown Princess Rhee is ready to take up the mantle of empress of the galaxy—and to finally exact vengeance on the Crown Regent, who she believes murdered her family. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Aly is enjoying life as a reality star on The Revolutionary Boys, chasing down rogue ships as a UniForce soldier with a smile on his face. His fun comes to a screeching halt, however, when he’s blamed for the death of Princess Rhee; though Rhee actually escaped her would-be assassin and went into hiding, the Kalu powers-that-be are framing Aly. Now Rhee and Aly, separately, have to figure out what in the universe is going on and how they’re involved. The book moves at lightning speed between Rhee’s and Aly’s stories, dropping readers right into the action as Rhee is attacked by her supposedly benevolent handler while Aly pursues a mysterious vessel. For all its rousing action (and there’s a lot of it), the book brings some surprisingly well-developed characters, particularly in Aly, whose tragic past is doled out carefully in painful flashbacks. There’s also obvious but intriguing political and cultural parallels here: the wealth of Kalu residents (who are mostly white) comes from the plundering of other planets’ resources, and dark-skinned Aly makes an easy target for Kalu’s powerful media to frame. Though Rhee and Aly never meet, it becomes increasingly clear their lives are somehow tangled together, and the ending ensures a sequel. Fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and especially readers of Lewis’ Stitching Snow (BCCB 12/14) will find much to like in this thrilling yet thoughtful intergalactic ride. [End Page 258]



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p. 258
Launched on MUSE
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