In Exiles, the first in a series, the reader is introduced to an orphan protagonist who might remind us in some ways of Ender Wiggins, or any really capable kid in fiction or film.
In her futuristic, but still relatable setting, the author incorporates rich world-building, but in the background, opening with school drama and ominous dystopian issues infringing on the protagonist’s prospects.
As far as dystopian young adult novels go, I am not an expert, but this is a better-than-average immersive read with a likable crew. The author uses familiar tropes in a refreshing way, depicting space-opera-esque moon colonization and well-paced plot points garnished by delightful character interactions containing palpable chemistry with a good deal of subtext suggesting aspects of the society underlying the world they inhabit.
I found the technology to be realistically incorporated and the description was effective at painting a picture without bogging down the plot. She couples this with good technical explanations and a constant sense of tension. While some components seems similar to other YA stories where kids are recruited and trained for space antics, the conflict arises differently here. There is plenty of action to keep young and old adults equally engaged. While easy to read, it does not talk down to its audience, packing depth and emotion. You will find a good balance of dialogue and narration, and a slight learning curve with book-specific vocabulary, but ample context in most cases to deduct the meaning behind key terms.
Overall, it is full of cinematic scenes carried by an adventurous protagonist and spunky first person perspective chockablock with subtle humor. The voice is a bit more sophisticated than Harry Potter – which is to say, I’m not used to YA having a maturer feel, but I think it still works within the category. There is a keen interest in relationships, with surprising cliffhangers to keep you eager for the next chapter.