20 April 2018
A Closed and Common Orbit
Chambers, Becky. A Closed and Common Orbit. Hodder & Stoughton, 2016.
Lovelace was supposed to be the AI aboard the ship, however, due to events in the first book in this series, her program was placed into a body instead and she has been sent to live with Pepper. Pepper is a human who has a complicated past as well, and this book alternates chapters of Pepper's past with the story of Lovelace adapting to being in a body instead of a ship.
That description makes this book sound really dry, which it definitely is not. Sidra (the name Lovelace chooses for herself) has to deal with all the overwhelming sounds and sights of the beings around her all the time, and she has to adjust to being confined to a body with certain programming protocols (for example, she can't lie). In addition, she's not actually allowed to inhabit a body, so her very existence is illegal. Add that to the descriptions of several alien species and their various languages, habits, festivals, etc., and you get a fantastic mix that's perfect for any Star Trek fan.
On top of this we have Pepper's story. Pepper was bred to be an employee in a factory. She and her fellow workers (it's never clear if they are all clones or whatnot) never see the sunlight and never interact with anyone else. When there's an explosion at the factory, Pepper doesn't even know what to make of the "big blue ceiling" she sees outside the walls. But she escapes and ends up living in an abandoned shuttle, which she works on repairing so she can escape. These sequences are equal parts The Martian, combined with any "escape from a cult" type story you can imagine, because Pepper doesn't know anything about the outside world.
Bottom Line: This book is positively fantastic, and my only complaint is that I've finished reading it and the next one isn't out until later this year. Highly recommended.
Recommended for: teens, adults
Red Flags: Pepper's language develops around the time she turns 14 - she learns to swear and therefore uses her new language abilities extensively
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars