ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
“But they don’t tell you the pain comes with you. They don’t tell you that hurt travels at light-speed too.”
This is easily one of the best books I’ve read all year. I can’t wait for everyone to be able to read this in September when it releases. This book is the YA Sci-Fi book I’ve been waiting for my entire life.
Growing up, you guys might have learned about the story of Tower of Babel as a lesson about why we speak so many different languages. Basically, after the Great Flood happened, a bunch of people came together and agreed to build a tower that would touch Heaven itself. God, realizing what they are attempting, scatters them all around the world and makes them all speak different languages, hence our world today.
Well, Scott Reintgen spins that story backwards, and created a company, Babel, that brings ten teens from all around the world, speaking different languages, from different cultures, and gives them headsets that translate everything for them. Then, they are sent on a mission to land on a new planet, Eden, where the life forms, Adamites, won’t harm children. Babel then wants the children to mine Nyxia, which is the new super resource and is a substance that can create anything.
This book also feels a bit like a mixed hybrid of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, The 100, Divergent, but, in my opinion, it does it way better and more realistically and much more emphatically.
Nyxia stars a young black boy from Detroit, Emmett, who is one of ten teens that are a part of a space mission. All of these children come from broken places, and all are desperate to enter this program, because the company, Babel, is offering them an immense amount of money. But Emmett isn’t in it for the money; Emmett is doing it to save his mother.
Systemic poverty in America is real and the system keeps people in that demographic over and over and throughout generations. This book doesn’t shy away from it or any other hard topics. Emmett’s family works hard, they work so very hard, but they still can’t afford his mother’s hospital bills. She is in dire need of a transplant, and the only way to get her to the top of the donor list is for Emmett to be a part of Babel’s mission.
“It’s hard to tell the difference between rich and wrong.”
Our story mostly takes place on the ship, Genesis 11, where the teens are heading to Eden and Babel is training them to not only mine the substance, but to become powerful and strong tools themselves. The teens all get scores and points on how they complete their daily missions. Seriously, think Hogwartz, where the kids can constantly see how they are doing. Once on the ship, the group is informed that only so many will be allowed to actually step foot on Eden and be able to gain all the money they were promised. Obviously, this is where the point system comes into play, and we quickly learn how much this mission means to these ten teens.
➽ Emmett – American (Detroit) – The main protagonist.
➽ Kaya – Japanese – Emmett’s roommate and a master problem solver.
➽ Longwei – Asian – The best on their ship.
➽ Jaime – Swedish – The only white boy.
➽ Azima – Kenyan – Looks for strength, while being strong.
➽ Katsu – Japanese – The stereotypical chubby comic relief (but I do love him).
➽ Jazzy – American (Tennessee) – Beauty and pageant queen with a sick mother.
➽ Isadora – Brazilian – Has a secret tattoo, and carries a lot of anger and hurt.
➽ Roathy – A boy with a lot of mystery and sadness surrounding him.
➽ Bilal – Palestinian – The sweetest and kindest boy in the world.
You’ll feel an immense amount of empathy for all these characters, but, besides Emmett, Bilal and Kaya were easily my favorites, and both are complete little cinnamon rolls! The kindness that Bilal would constantly show everyone, even the people who wronged him, made me cry or tear up constantly. I wish everyone in the world was more like Bilal. And Kaya, and the unconditional love and friendship she showed to Emmett was something I always look for in a YA book. All of the friendships in this book are honestly goals, and Bilal and Kaya showed so much beauty towards Emmett that I couldn’t help but fall in love.
I spoke about how this book touches on our current health care crisis and how we let people die just because they can’t afford treatment to live, but Scott Reintgen doesn’t stop there with there with the important discussions. We get to see in this book how we stereotype and profile kids and adults of every race so very often and without even thinking.
I loved seeing Emmett handle this anger, and using the system his Grandma helped him with. I hate how we live in a world where black men have to always be portrayed as angry. They can never be happy, or emotional, or anything close to looking sensitive. I loved seeing Emmett constantly battling his anger, and then also seeing him break down and just cry innocent tears from his family’s love and them believing in him.
And the family dynamic in this book is so strong and wonderful. We don’t get to see a lot of Emmett’s family, but each time we did I had tears in my eyes. Emmett’s dad is perfect, and seeing his unconditional and unwavering love for his son and wife was something pure and beyond words. I wish more YA books showed stronger familial bonds like Nyxia.
Emmett’s journey to making his own family on the ship was also something of perfection. So many important messages are in this book about feeling broken in this broken world, with such heavy emphasis on letting kids know that they are not alone, no matter how alone they feel. Seriously, this book is not just a fast paced and addicting read, it’s powerful and full of messages that warm my heart to know teens and young adults are reading about.
I also loved the use of music in this book, and how Emmett would constantly use it to calm him and to cope with heavy situations around him. I’m a strong believer in the healing powers of music, and I love seeing it used as a positive outlet.
“The power of music and how it can heal your very soul”
I predict that this is going to explode. Between the amazingly addicting story, to the wonderfully diverse and realistic cast, to the important topics and discussions, to the beautiful writing, this story has it all, and I truly believe it is a recipe for success. I can’t wait to get my hands on book two and to see what Scott Reintgen does next!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.