Review: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

2 stars (It was okay).

So, about six months ago, I came across a list of great science fiction YA published recently. I think it was bemoaning the lack of marketing publishing companies are putting into their sf lists. I love both science fiction and YA, and so do my two oldest sons (ages 13 and 11), so I checked out the list.

And while I did come away with some things to add to my to-read list, I also noticed something that left me a bit unsettled. ALL of the books on the list had female protagonists.

Okay, so maybe it’s just an attempt to catch up after decades of a heavily male-dominated genre. And boys can read about girls–my boys do all the time!

But.

We talk about representation. And the truth is, my boys seem to enjoy books written in the last 20 years or so more than they enjoy older books. And if none of the books in their preferred genre have boys in the starring role, then . . . ahem . . . I think we may have a representation problem.

It feels weird to say it.

Surely, I thought, there must be some YA science fiction with male leads. So I did some Googling and found a list of 100 of the best science fiction YA published in the last 10 years. Perfect!

I read down the list. And you know what? Out of those 100 books, a grand total of 15 had at least one male protagonist (some had dual boy/girl leads). That means over 85 had girls as main characters, and fewer than 15 had only boys.

I decided then to read those 15 books (no promises I won’t abandon any of them part way through, since I am definitely not one to feel compelled to finish a book I’m not enjoying). Nyxia was the first.

And I have to say that while this was only a 2 out of 5 stars *for me,* it’s a book I’m wholeheartedly recommending to people. Its voice and characters are great. The plot clips along nicely. It’s got mystery and plenty of cool science fiction elements.

I almost feel guilty writing down what my biggest problem with it was: It was just so, so alpha male that I didn’t relate with it much at all. *laughs* Lots of high-stakes competition, fight scenes, problems with authority, anger management issues . . . you name it.

I did like it, but sometimes it got to be too much for me. And that’s okay! I am not this book’s target audience!

If you or someone you love might be the book’s target audience, give this one a try. I bet you’ll love it.

The Review Rating System

Here’s what I mean by my star system:

DNF: Did not finish. This book had enough strikes against it that I gave up. These are the books I truly didn’t like.

1 Star: I finished the book, but I don’t recommend it. Ultimately, I was disappointed.

2 Stars: It was okay. I read it. Nothing stood out, good or bad, one way or another. Alternately: It was really compelling, but something about it rubbed me the wrong way.

3 stars: It was good. Most 3’s are books I read and enjoyed and thought were interesting or fun or well written, but I didn’t especially connect to them, and I’m pretty sure I’ll forget I ever read them years down the road. Honestly, most books I read are 3’s.

4 stars: I really liked this book. It was very enjoyable most or all of the way through, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

5 stars: Okay, this book is one of my new favorites. I was blown away. I will never forget it, and I will tell everyone I know who might possibly like this type of book that they have to read it.

As you can tell, most of these are more positive than not. That’s because I don’t finish books I don’t like. Even 1’s had enough going for them that I kept reading (I thought the conflict was intriguing, but it ended up not going anywhere, for example).

I also have a tag for “Others May Like.” That means I gave a book a rating lower than it probably deserved because I personally didn’t connect with the character, genre, story, whatever. Sometimes I can see a book and recognize that it’s objectively good while still not being something I enjoyed. I tagged these books so you can easily search these and maybe give them a chance.