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Publisher's Summary

"Don't be alarmed - that dizzy pleasurable sensation you're experiencing is just your brain slowly exploding from all the wild magnificent worldbuilding in Nicky Drayden's Escaping Exodus. I loved these characters and this story, and so will you." (Sam J. Miller, Nebula-Award-winning author of The Art of Starving and Blackfish City

The Compton Crook award-winning author of The Prey of Gods and Temper returns with a dazzling stand-alone novel, set in deep space, in which the fate of humanity rests on the slender shoulders of an idealistic and untested young woman - a blend of science fiction, dark humor, and magical realism that will appeal to fans of Charlie Jane Anders, Jeff VanderMeer, and Nnedi Okorafor.

Earth is a distant memory. Habitable extrasolar planets are still out of reach. For generations, humanity has been clinging to survival by establishing colonies within enormous vacuum-breathing space beasts and mining their resources to the point of depletion. 

Rash, dreamy, and unconventional, Seske Kaleigh should be preparing for her future role as clan leader, but her people have just culled their latest beast, and she’s eager to find the cause of the violent tremors plaguing their new home. Defying social barriers, Seske teams up with her best friend, a beast worker, and ventures into restricted areas for answers to end the mounting fear and rumors. Instead, they discover grim truths about the price of life in the void. 

Then, Seske is unexpectedly thrust into the role of clan matriarch, responsible for thousands of lives in a harsh universe where a single mistake can be fatal. Her claim to the throne is challenged by a rival determined to overthrow her and take control - her intelligent, cunning, and confident sister. 

Seske may not be a born leader like her sister, yet her unorthodox outlook and incorruptible idealism may be what the clan needs to save themselves and their world.

©2019 Nicky Drayden (P)2019 HarperAudio

What listeners say about Escaping Exodus

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A truly unique tale

Such a strange and enthralling story, I really couldn't predict where it would go next! There are some story beats that don't quite sit right with me, but overall I'm happier having read this book than not. If you're looking for a truly alien sci-fi experience, this book is for you.

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Pure Chaos--in a good way.

This has been the first book in years that had me hooked nearly immediately. I kept needing to find a chance to keep listening and I found myself thinking about it often.

The story was intense, barrier-breaking, and emotional. The characters are very inclusive. The descriptions are so well done that you can almost see what they see, taste what they taste, smell what they smell.

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Loved it! so goey and interesting

I really loved this one. I was pretty skeptical, but turns out I’m all here for goey living ships, and I was a huge fan of the interesting and very queer society. It has some flaws, especially in the plot department, but I actually liked some aspects that I saw others were not keen on.

Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden is sci fi story taking place on a living spaceship. A huge, goey, often disgusting, beast flying through space with humans modifying it so they can live inside. A lot of the focus is on the ship itself, all the challenges it poses, and on the society that inhabits it.

I loved the spaceship beast. It was so unusual and on such a massive scale. Imagine having arteries so wide that people can walk through them to do maintenance work. Gut bacteria so big they pose a real danger to humans, as if they were wild animals. Drayden does a very good job of making this very alien environment feel real. It’s very visceral, and especially towards the end, not for the squeamish. This is a bit hard to explain without spoilers, but I don’t normally like the sort of thing that happened, but the MC having a very positive outlook on the whole thing really made it easier to get through.

The society is very interesting, it’s very matriarchal, and I particularly liked how the family unit evolved to fit the constrained nature of spaceship life. There are two point of view characters, one giving us a picture of the most privileged layer of society and the other of the working class and a peek at the lowest. The book is generally highly critical of humans, especially how we impact the environment and treat the less privileged. I liked how the way men’s choices were limited in the matriarchal society points out how absurd things like that are in any society. I think that the way that the higher ups relate to the people with the lowest standing in society could’ve been elaborated on more, it just felt too brutal to not come with more of an explanation as to how that came to be.

The story itself is somewhat familiar, young people growing up and facing disillusionment about the world around them, dealing with injustice and trying to fix the world as they get to know it. We follow two characters Seske, daughter of the matriarch, destined to rule her entire people, and Adala, her childhood friend and love interest, a talented heart worker, her working class origins make her an impossible match for the future Matris. I really liked how perfectly queer it is, having both male and female love interests is the norm.

Seske’s challenges are about dealing with what is expected of her, mixed with grim realizations about the truth of life on the space beast and her perpetually souring relationship with her sister. Adala faces challenges of her own, also with both her role in society and the way it operates.

This is where the general complaint comes in. There are many story threads, with Seske’s and Adala’s relationship, their families, all sorts of smaller and bigger emergencies on the ship, shifts in society. Some of them feel pretty rushed. Often it is done in a way I actually liked, there’d be a problem and then characters would figure out how to solve it and it’s sort of solved off screen and the story skips ahead. I liked how that avoided wasting time on something that would be sorted out anyway.

I listened to the audiobook I think that really brought the text to life. Between the different kinds of vernacular used and the narrator’s performance the different groups and classes really felt very distinct.

This is one of those books that’s pretty unique in what it does and how it does it, so it’s hard to say “I recommend this to fans of X” when I haven’t read anything quite like it. Just, give it a shot if living ships and interesting societies tickle your fancy.