Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
I am loving what I am hoping is not a trend and is just a long-overdue change in the publishing of Young Adult Fiction, in this case, YA Science Fiction - diversity. The protagonist and hero of the book Nyxia is Emmett, a hardworking, intelligent, African-American young man living in poverty with both of his loving parents. His mother has long been suffering from a kidney disease that will eventually kill her. When the Babel Corporation approaches him with an opportunity to travel in a lightship to a new and the secret planet, Eden, to mine a priceless resource called Nyxia, he feels like he’s won the lottery. Not only will he experience the opportunity of a lifetime, he will also be monetarily compensated beyond his wildest dreams and his mother will be given the best possible healthcare available. Emmett can’t say no. Even though he’s not exactly sure what he’s getting in to. Even though he’ll be away from his family for over a year. Even when he finds out there’s a catch, he can’t say no. The catch is a big one. Emmett only has an OPPORTUNITY to go to Eden. On board the lightship, he’ll be competing against nine other teens who have been given the same opportunity. Only the top eight will go to Eden. Only the top eight will receive the big bucks and the healthcare. Emmett vows then and there to do whatever it takes to make it in the top eight. What follows is similar to other books with similar plots. You know the ones I’m talking about - The Hunger Games, Divergent, Red Rising. But it works. The action is non-stop, the characters are engaging, and there’s an interesting twist from these predecessors and it has to do with why each of these ten were chosen.
This series has the potential to be very popular. Aside from the fact that I was furious that this first book ended on a major cliffhanger (I HATE that!), I was definitely on the edge of my seat and will be reading book two (Nyxia Unleashed, July 2018). Nyxia would be a perfect fit for the Gateway Readers Award; I’ll definitely recommend it for consideration. The audiobook was excellent, perfectly narrated by two African-American actors (even though, I must admit, I didn’t realize there were two separate narrators until I was researching for this review!). Finally, Nyxia reminded me of another diverse Sci Fi I’ve read recently - Want by Cindy Pon. I recommend that one, too!