I’ve been meaning to read a book by Charlie Jane Anders for ages now. And I was so excited to read Ander’s YA debut – Victories Greater Than Death. I was able to listen to this one via audio, which was truly a phenomenal experience! Keep reading this book review to see my full thoughts on this YA SF series starter.
Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.
And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Victories Greater Than Death is an immersive SF adventure that balances rich characters and an action packed plot. While the action explores ethical questions about fighting for the greater good, being a hero, and the cost of sacrifice, the characters were my favorite element. Anders is able to bring life and detail to every single one of them, no matter if we only hear a few lines from them. Seriously. I am so shocked and thrilled by the level of character development and description. Even though I didn’t agree with all of Tina’s decisions, because of the level of development, I could understand her completely.
One of my favorite elements of Victories Greater Than Death, besides the immense character development, was Tina’s character. She is struggling with trying to be someone she’s not. Trying to live up to a legacy she has no connection to, to a person she can never be. So committed to being a hero, to being the best, to living up to people’s expectations, she makes questionable choices. She thinks she has to be tough and not show any weakness, but Tina has to realize that she can only ever be herself. That all that fighting against it is wearing her down.
All these SF touches made it even better. Victories Greater Than Death delivers phenomenal characters you get to really know with space! There were some amazing references and it felt like such an homage to some of my favorites! Some of the space battles were seriously action packed and just so fun. Another element I appreciated was how much it sinks into the found family element. To the ways we can find pieces of ourselves, comfort we didn’t know we needed, and a source of anchoring in people.
I think if I had to put my finger on my only reservation is that Victories Greater Than Death introduces some serious themes, which I think could have been given more weight. There are issues like abuse, transphobia, and bullying that are in character’s backstories. But I’m talking about how the book touches upon issues of eugenics and racism (more in the alien sense than the human sense). I can’t get too much into the nitty gritty specifics, but I’m also hoping there might be more discussion in the future books? I was just surprised considering the implications.
Audiobook or not?
Listening to this felt like a cinematic experience. Hynden Walch has to be one of my new favorite narrators. The ways she is able to infuse so much emotion and sound effects? Don’t even get me started on the accents! So much appreciation for the ways Walch brings even more life and color to Victories Greater Than Death. Additionally, the audiobook has a really great interview with both Walch and Anders at the end that just makes my heart full. It is clear that they love this project and it gave me more insight into the recording and the book!
Victories Greater Than Death is a jam packed and character rich SF adventure. I seriously loved listening to it on audiobook and hearing it come alive. In general, it’s such a great example of detailed character work paired with some entertaining space touches. For fans of “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who” this would be just up your alley! Find Victories Greater Than Death on Goodeads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org, Libro.fm, Google Books, & The Book Depository.