Hot Best Seller

Aetherbound

Availability: Ready to download

A thought-provoking new YA space adventure from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Ahsoka. Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston's latest is story of survival and self-determination. Pendt Harland's family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her gen A thought-provoking new YA space adventure from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Ahsoka. Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston's latest is story of survival and self-determination. Pendt Harland's family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation. But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive. During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for.


Compare

A thought-provoking new YA space adventure from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Ahsoka. Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston's latest is story of survival and self-determination. Pendt Harland's family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her gen A thought-provoking new YA space adventure from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Ahsoka. Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston's latest is story of survival and self-determination. Pendt Harland's family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation. But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive. During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for.

30 review for Aetherbound

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    EK Johnston is very good at what she does, and what she does is write soft books with iron backbones of strength, populate them with impossibly wonderful characters who are similarly made up of softness and strength, and fill in the gaps with cleverness and hope. From the unquestioned queer rep to the fascinating magic, from the deep digs into abuse and the value of human life to the importance laid on choosing your family, this book touched on all my favorite things. Aetherbound is practically EK Johnston is very good at what she does, and what she does is write soft books with iron backbones of strength, populate them with impossibly wonderful characters who are similarly made up of softness and strength, and fill in the gaps with cleverness and hope. From the unquestioned queer rep to the fascinating magic, from the deep digs into abuse and the value of human life to the importance laid on choosing your family, this book touched on all my favorite things. Aetherbound is practically perfect and my heart is full. Edit: Don't worry, I checked: it's still good.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    DNF at 20% Unfortunately I don't think this book is for me, and it wasn't quite what I was expecting. The first part of the book had a number of things I was uncomfortable with so I decided to take a look at other reviews and based on those, I don't think it's going to get better. This is the story of a girl born to a family that owns and operates a space freighter where everything is about survival and people are only as valuable as what they can contribute. We meet her at 5 years old and basica DNF at 20% Unfortunately I don't think this book is for me, and it wasn't quite what I was expecting. The first part of the book had a number of things I was uncomfortable with so I decided to take a look at other reviews and based on those, I don't think it's going to get better. This is the story of a girl born to a family that owns and operates a space freighter where everything is about survival and people are only as valuable as what they can contribute. We meet her at 5 years old and basically see various forms of child abuse from restricting food to severe punishments to her mother telling her she's worthless because of the kind of magical ability she has. As she gets older we see her cousin at 17 forced to become pregnant to serve the family, and lots of other things that are pretty horrific. And note that this is a YA book, which is part of why this gives me pause. But I thought maybe there would be a point to it, a reason to keep reading. But based on reviews with spoilers, things just get worse from here. If you don't mind the spoilers, I would recommend checking out this review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Unfortunately I will not be continuing with this and would urge readers to check content warnings. I received an advance copy for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fish

    ****Just a fair warning, this review will contain spoilers!***** Thank you to Net-Galley for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Aetherbound is a YA adventure novel that takes place in the dark depths of space. Space is all our main character, Pendt Harland, has ever known. Seen by the rest of her family as useless, she fights hard to earn every breath of oxygen she can. The only thing Pendt has known is survival and the Harland, and she leaves it all behin ****Just a fair warning, this review will contain spoilers!***** Thank you to Net-Galley for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Aetherbound is a YA adventure novel that takes place in the dark depths of space. Space is all our main character, Pendt Harland, has ever known. Seen by the rest of her family as useless, she fights hard to earn every breath of oxygen she can. The only thing Pendt has known is survival and the Harland, and she leaves it all behind when she decides to escape during a space station layover. Immediately she is met with attention from the Brannick twins and together form a plan to escape their pre-determined destinies. I was very excited when I picked this book up, the premise was interesting, and I love a good 'escaping your destiny' trope. The beginning at the Harland was so captivating, and I loved the magic system and the action scenes. It's engaging and makes the reader want to continue, but once Pendt leaves the Harland, that's where more of my problems with the book begin. I felt like it lulled a lot when Pendt makes her way off the Harland. The middle of the book becomes unexpectedly boring. I anticipated a lot more action and adventure, but that is hard to achieve when your whole cast of characters is bound to a space station. (***Spoilers for the second half of the book***) The pregnancy plot was very off-putting as well and never really resolved towards the end. Pendt gets pregnant with Ned's baby, but she ends up with his brother. This feels very creepy. Especially when Pendt is kissing Fisher and thinking about how "Fisher knows my only experience is with his brother.' Once she meets the Brannick twins, she feels much more like a side character. And the attention is shifted to Ned and how he is being a hero fighting for the rebellion. The relationships also felt very rushed. I didn't see them develop as people, friends, let alone lovers. My least favorite part of their relationships is that Fisher, for a good portion of the book technically owns Pendt. Which is an automatic pause in the book for me. Fisher feels uncomfortable with this fact and, they find some kind of 'workaround' so that Pendt can be her own person. but it is still so weird to include something like that in a YA romance. Overall a lot of it felt very predictable. I also found myself disappointed with how veiled and confusing the trans representation was. It was an exciting premise, maybe others would enjoy it, but I felt let down by this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Thank you Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This short ass book packs such a punch!! Ever since I fell in love with EK Johnston's The Afterward and That Inevitable Victorian Thing, I've been eagerly awaiting her next novel! And it was sci-fi which is even better!! Aetherbound follows Pendt Harland, she's a gene mage on the freighter Harland. As her magic isn't helpful to running the ship, she's treated as a discard and given the bare minimum Thank you Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This short ass book packs such a punch!! Ever since I fell in love with EK Johnston's The Afterward and That Inevitable Victorian Thing, I've been eagerly awaiting her next novel! And it was sci-fi which is even better!! Aetherbound follows Pendt Harland, she's a gene mage on the freighter Harland. As her magic isn't helpful to running the ship, she's treated as a discard and given the bare minimum to stay alive. Pendt knows that as soon as she turns 18 the ship will hire her out to pay for her existence basically--it's harsh and it's involuntary prostitution. During a layover, Pendt decides to make her escape into Brannick Station. When she's found by the Brannick twins, they strike up a deal to keep Pendt with them. I loved Pendt so much! She's curious and wants to be loved/belong somewhere. Her magic as a gene mage lets her control her DNA and change it. As well as see what other peoples' DNA looks like. She ends up using it a lot to learn about plants. The beginning of the book was a bit slow. Pendt's life on the Harland is so sad and I wish they'd treated her better. Once Pendt makes it to Brannick Station, things start to pick up. We see what Pendt is capable of with not only her magic but her brain. She integrates herself into the Brannick and becomes an important piece of the administration. The bond Pendt has with Ned and Fisher was the best thing ever. I loved these three together so much. Ned and Pendt don't have a romantic relationship, but I loved their friendship and how they understood each other so easily. Then there's Pendt and Fisher. Holy slow burn and pining. I was gone once I knew Fisher liked Pendt. Fisher is also trans! To me, Pendt read aspec, but I don't know exactly where or if she's on the spectrum. While the ending for Brannick Station was pretty set, it feels like there's so much else that needs to happen in the greater empire of the Hegemony and I hope there will be a sequel or continuation.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I could write a long screed about why this book isn't very good, but who has the time? Let me summarize: this is a short book that's high on the exposition that doesn't really remember to have a plot until 80% of the way through. When it comes, the plot is laughable, dealt with by the first plan that the heroes come up with and with no twists at all and not even any clever ideas from either side of the issue. And even then, the resolution is stupid, because what's at risk is priceless beyond all I could write a long screed about why this book isn't very good, but who has the time? Let me summarize: this is a short book that's high on the exposition that doesn't really remember to have a plot until 80% of the way through. When it comes, the plot is laughable, dealt with by the first plan that the heroes come up with and with no twists at all and not even any clever ideas from either side of the issue. And even then, the resolution is stupid, because what's at risk is priceless beyond all measure and there are literally thousands of people who know the secret that the protagonists are hiding from the antagonists. On top of all that, regarding the LGBTIQ representation in this book that it's been widely tagged with, it's so shockingly unclear that one of the main characters is trans that readers of a short, simple book somehow missed it. I've read and liked several other books from this author. This was a complete miss in my opinion.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    The story of Percival and The Fisher King IN SPAAAAAAAACE! Trust Kate to take this simple legend, nearly a parable, and turn it into this wildly creative gem of a sci fi novel, full of cool space stuff, found family, and beautiful friendships. Also: kissing. And of course: cheese.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Don’tGoBrekkerMyHeart

    I would not recommend this novel to people. To be quite honest, it confused me and even made me uncomfortable a few times. The premise immediately set me on the edge of my seat, and I was very excited to try a E. K. Johnson title for the first time. It promised me takeovers and gene mutations, but honestly all I got was a few shapeshifting moments and the brothers already running the station. Even when the Harland comes back to stir up trouble, their presence means nothing because they are easil I would not recommend this novel to people. To be quite honest, it confused me and even made me uncomfortable a few times. The premise immediately set me on the edge of my seat, and I was very excited to try a E. K. Johnson title for the first time. It promised me takeovers and gene mutations, but honestly all I got was a few shapeshifting moments and the brothers already running the station. Even when the Harland comes back to stir up trouble, their presence means nothing because they are easily fooled by the trios plan. The stakes were supposed to be high, and instead I felt hardly anything. Anyway, most of the novel takes place land locked on this space ship. This made reading monotonous and boring throughout all of the middle portion of the novel because the escape from Harland was so early on within the novel, and even with the rebels and Harlan plots at the end, they never really had an sway over Brannick. Then with such few pages, none of the relationships stuck with me. I felt nothing when a significant character "died," and I was weirded out that as Fisher and Pendt grew closer, Pendt would bring Ned up into her head and how he was her first for many things as she was making out with Fisher. It was just this weird brothers and Pendt situation. Moreover, the entire marriage and pregnancy plot point seemed illogical and downright creepy. Pendt met the boys at 17, and then within a short period of time (her 18th birthday/ afterwards) she becomes married, pregnant, and tied to these brothers like property just to keep her freedom (don't even get me started on Pendt ending up with Fisher who is not the father of the baby but rather his brother Ned). It's just love triangle gone crazy at this point. Plus, the sad reality for Pendt is that I'd argue she only chained herself to another group of people. Pendt never felt like she truly had her own authority and decisions, and I think that's the downfall of this story. She was stagnant instead of this bright, powerful star. It made no sense to me. Lastly, the rebellion was this side show readers never truly got to witness. There's a moment at the end where they come into play, but otherwise, Pendt is either telling us what the rebellion is doing through her POV, or Ned's referenced since he ran away to join them. They're the elephant in the room because we know nothing about them. Overall, I'm not trying to be harsh on this story. My disappointment is just rampant.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Described by the author as A little bit Arthurian, a little bit post-1992 fisheries collapse, the worst family EVER, and magic, because: why not? -(x) OKAY SIGN ME UP. Described by the author as A little bit Arthurian, a little bit post-1992 fisheries collapse, the worst family EVER, and magic, because: why not? -(x) OKAY SIGN ME UP.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Di Maitland

    1.5*s. This is not a good book BUT I did finish it in two days so I have to give it some credit. That said, that probably says more about the kind of mood I was in than about the book. Pendt has spent her whole life on a ship, travelling with her family between trading posts. Space is tight, food is tighter and love is a foreign concept. Her brothers and her cousins are deemed useful, their magical affinities for electricity or maths helping to maintain ship. Pendt's ability to manipulate genes, 1.5*s. This is not a good book BUT I did finish it in two days so I have to give it some credit. That said, that probably says more about the kind of mood I was in than about the book. Pendt has spent her whole life on a ship, travelling with her family between trading posts. Space is tight, food is tighter and love is a foreign concept. Her brothers and her cousins are deemed useful, their magical affinities for electricity or maths helping to maintain ship. Pendt's ability to manipulate genes, however, is deemed worthless and a waste of resources. She's bullied, abused, neglected and set to be sold on her eighteenth birthday. Weeks before the big day, Pendt escapes and finds herself in the company of the Brannick twins, Ned and Fisher. Their parents have been taken hostage by the Hegemony and their family's station is tied to their genetics meaning that if they leave or die, everyone on the station dies with them. Together, Pendt, Ned and Fisher set upon a scheme to save themselves and their station, and, maybe, find a little piece of happiness along the way. Unfortunately, the book is not at all well written. It reads like a summary of the book the author planned to write but hadn't yet got around to. Before we meet even a single character, we're given a sweeping info-dump of the history of the Hegemony, written like a briefing to a movie production company rather than the start of a science fiction novel. It's all tell, don't show. Meanwhile, the characters, when we meet them, are two-dimensional and their backstories stereotypical and over-exaggerated. It was sometimes painful just to keep reading. Why did I keep reading then? Well, I was in the mood for a quick, easy read and this was mindless enough to pass muster. I was hoping we might get a few bedroom scenes, but all but the kissing ended up being off camera. Would I recommend it to anybody? No. Is it the worst book I've ever read? No, but it was far from good. Will I be reading any more by this author? I'm sorry to say that I won't.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Holly Hughes

    “Choosing was new for her, and she relished it.” You know what I love? What I really, really love? When young adult books very adeptly feature narratives navigating bodily autonomy. When we're given characters who realize the importance of being able to choose what to do with their bodies—and when, and how—and then they get to keep making those choices? And anyone who tries to take that power away from them is (metaphorically) curb-stomped? We love to see it. I also love to see SFF books in the “Choosing was new for her, and she relished it.” You know what I love? What I really, really love? When young adult books very adeptly feature narratives navigating bodily autonomy. When we're given characters who realize the importance of being able to choose what to do with their bodies—and when, and how—and then they get to keep making those choices? And anyone who tries to take that power away from them is (metaphorically) curb-stomped? We love to see it. I also love to see SFF books in the young adult sphere that clock in at less than 300 pages and feel fully realized without feeling rushed. Aetherbound is the epitome of “good things come in small packages.” It's punchy—but in a subtle, quiet way that sneaks up on you. It's my favourite sort of science fiction, where the heart of the book lies in the hearts of its characters and the characters are as compelling as the other-worldly settings. I positively adored Pendt, and Fisher, and Ned. Found family is truly the superior trope, huh? All in all, E.K. Johnston served up a damn good meal here. *chef's kiss* — — — Also! The audiobook production is fan-fucking-tastic. Ashley Eckstein narrates to perfection, and the inclusion of sound effects and music add so perfectly to the atmosphere. It was a truly excellent experience. I highly recommend. — — — PS. For every SFF YA that casually mentions and normalizes menstruation, my heart goes pitter-patter.

  11. 4 out of 5

    ella

    ★☆☆☆☆ 1/5 this book was marketed to me as a “queer space opera” but i must have missed the “queer” and the “opera” in this book... the info-dumping was so bad i ended up just skipping through some of the beginning, and the whole pregnancy-plot was extremely uncomfortable for me to read, as was the obsession with calories. this book just wasn’t for me. (arc provided by netgallery and Penguin Teen. all thoughts and opinions are my own)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pei

    Enjoyment: 1/5 Execution: 1.5/5 Final rating: 1.25/5 This was a really cool and interesting premise but it ended up being such a drag to read. While there is a content warning at the beginning for the calorie counting (which was its own weird thing), there are definitely other significant ones to be considered, and I was unpleasantly surprised by the excessive abuse Pendt suffers in the beginning of the book. Pendt and the twins are all very dull and it was hard to feel invested in any of them or t Enjoyment: 1/5 Execution: 1.5/5 Final rating: 1.25/5 This was a really cool and interesting premise but it ended up being such a drag to read. While there is a content warning at the beginning for the calorie counting (which was its own weird thing), there are definitely other significant ones to be considered, and I was unpleasantly surprised by the excessive abuse Pendt suffers in the beginning of the book. Pendt and the twins are all very dull and it was hard to feel invested in any of them or their relationships. Furthermore, the pacing is very choppy where not much happens until the ~40% mark, and then after that becomes very rushed. The constant info-dumping combined with the extremely dry writing style makes the read feel more like a history textbook than a space adventure. Dull and disappointing. Content Warnings (may include spoilers, may be incomplete): intensive calorie counting/food restriction through rationing, emotional & physical abuse of minor from family members, bullying, confinement, trafficking, forced insemination/pregnancy, human trafficking, violence, blood, Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hallie

    Overall this was just sort of meh for me. There were trigger warnings at the beginning of the book, but I was surprised that the author didn't include one for (spoilers) human trafficking and forced insemination. This book does have lgbt rep that was cute, but this book wasn't for me. Overall this was just sort of meh for me. There were trigger warnings at the beginning of the book, but I was surprised that the author didn't include one for (spoilers) human trafficking and forced insemination. This book does have lgbt rep that was cute, but this book wasn't for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jay G

    Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer... *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review* 2.5/5 Stars Pendt Harland has spent her entire life on a space ship, being told she is worthless and unwanted. During a space station layover, Pendt decides to escape by sneaking off the ship and hiding in Brannick Station. She is discovered by the Brannick twins, and they decide to hatch a plan to escap Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer... *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review* 2.5/5 Stars Pendt Harland has spent her entire life on a space ship, being told she is worthless and unwanted. During a space station layover, Pendt decides to escape by sneaking off the ship and hiding in Brannick Station. She is discovered by the Brannick twins, and they decide to hatch a plan to escape their pre-determined destinies, that is beneficial to them all. I honestly don't know how to feel about this book... I think the premise could have been really cool, but the overall execution was a bit of a let down. The genes-mage aspect was pretty cool, and I was definitely intrigued with that but there were a lot of plot points that made me really uncomfortable and I was not a fan of. There is a giant info-dump at the beginning, and then it is mostly just a lot of the main character telling us events that are happening. The book is an extremely fast read though, and I finished it in two sittings. But I wouldn't say it was a necessarily good book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tara (Spinatale Reviews)

    The concept for Aetherbound sounded fantastic, but this book definitely wasn’t for me. I ultimately ended up skimming the last 75%. I kept hoping that it would get better, but instead it got more off-putting. The majority of the beginning of the book centers around Pendt and her family, who run an interstellar freighter. Unfortunately, most of it is focused on calorie counting and food restriction. Plus there’s a few other scenes with different types of abuse that really put me off this book, wh The concept for Aetherbound sounded fantastic, but this book definitely wasn’t for me. I ultimately ended up skimming the last 75%. I kept hoping that it would get better, but instead it got more off-putting. The majority of the beginning of the book centers around Pendt and her family, who run an interstellar freighter. Unfortunately, most of it is focused on calorie counting and food restriction. Plus there’s a few other scenes with different types of abuse that really put me off this book, which is why I skimmed the rest of the way. While the concept of this was incredibly interesting and I liked finding out more about this world, the execution just did not work for me. *Disclaimer: I received an advance digital copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole (FearYourEx)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 2.5/5 stars Thank you to the publisher for the early ARC via netgalley. TW: counting calories and medical violence. THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS (from first 25% of book) I really wanted to love this one and honestly the weirdness and the magic had me super interested at first. I liked Pendt. I liked Fisher and Ned, but the whole story was just odd. It's a YA book and the writing is very much YA but the content doesn't feel YA at all. Pendt obsessively counts calories from like 5 years old as she makes su 2.5/5 stars Thank you to the publisher for the early ARC via netgalley. TW: counting calories and medical violence. THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS (from first 25% of book) I really wanted to love this one and honestly the weirdness and the magic had me super interested at first. I liked Pendt. I liked Fisher and Ned, but the whole story was just odd. It's a YA book and the writing is very much YA but the content doesn't feel YA at all. Pendt obsessively counts calories from like 5 years old as she makes sure everyone gets the exact amount needed to live. And later it turns out she was very thin. Her family treats her horribly because her magic isn't the right magic to be "useful" on the ship. And she witnesses a family member get strapped down to a table and impregnated. How is that YA content? It honestly gets even more weird as you continue it. I liked the idea just not the full execution.

  17. 4 out of 5

    sophie (just.another.bookworm)

    “Not knowing was a weakness, and no weakness could be tolerated in space.” Thank you to Penguin Teen for sending an eARC in exchange for an honest review. This review is based on an unfinished copy of the book & any quotes included are subject to change. Content Warnings: calorie counting (rations), forced insemination & pregnancy, human trafficking, medical violence, confinement, familial emotional abuse Overall rating: 2 / 5 Characters: 2.5 / 5 Writing: 2 / 5 Plot: 1.5 / 5 Setting: 3 / 5 Aetherbound “Not knowing was a weakness, and no weakness could be tolerated in space.” Thank you to Penguin Teen for sending an eARC in exchange for an honest review. This review is based on an unfinished copy of the book & any quotes included are subject to change. Content Warnings: calorie counting (rations), forced insemination & pregnancy, human trafficking, medical violence, confinement, familial emotional abuse Overall rating: 2 / 5 Characters: 2.5 / 5 Writing: 2 / 5 Plot: 1.5 / 5 Setting: 3 / 5 Aetherbound follows Pendt Harland, a girl born to a family who runs a space cruiser. In space, everything is centered around survival, and everyone aboard the Harland is only seen as valuable as what they contribute. The worldbuilding was unique, but the info-dumping made it un-enjoyable. While the setting was interesting, there wasn’t enough time to sink into the world or story.The first third of the book felt like background information to set up the main story. From there, everything felt rushed. In some parts, conversations felt forced. The balance of plot and dialogue felt awkward, as did the narrative. Pendt and I share a love of cheese, but I found it hard to relate to her beyond that. That said, Pendt underwent a lot of character development in the story, and I enjoyed watching her growth. I also enjoyed Fisher’s character, and I found Pendt’s idea of survival and how it changes over the course of the book interesting. I appreciated that there was a content warning at the beginning of this book, but it only included medical violence and calorie obsession. Rep: Transgender MC (Fisher)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    You can’t choose your family. Sometimes you’re lucky and have a close, loving one. Others aren’t so lucky. Here we discover why being able to choose friends is so crucial.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Deja

    Reading this book’s synopsis, I was expecting more of a Star Wars level action plot, not a Gattaca genetic-perfection motivated romance that resolves in the of the most uncomfortable ways I’ve ever read. Aetherbound reads like a book inspired by and written during a global pandemic quarantine, in a bad way. The limited setting and strange choices in time jumps and information overload all lead to a very confusing reading experience over all. The narrative tries to convince the reader that this i Reading this book’s synopsis, I was expecting more of a Star Wars level action plot, not a Gattaca genetic-perfection motivated romance that resolves in the of the most uncomfortable ways I’ve ever read. Aetherbound reads like a book inspired by and written during a global pandemic quarantine, in a bad way. The limited setting and strange choices in time jumps and information overload all lead to a very confusing reading experience over all. The narrative tries to convince the reader that this incredibly strange plot is the norm in this universe but it’s just too out-there for me to suspend my disbelief. Other reviews have mentioned this, but I too found it strange that the author included a content warning for calorie counting and disordered eating, but not the human trafficking, familial emotional abuse, or forced pregnancy. Pendt, our protagonist, is hard to connect with or sympathize with despite her terrible situation. To call this a “space adventure” is generous, and the whole book is just weird and unsettling.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Noble

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was horrible. I love sci fi, I love dark fantasy, but this ain’t it. Tons of issues right off the get go and reading reviews, it only got worse. There’s a reason there’s so many low ratings and many DNF. It’s like the author took the horrible treatment that Harry Potter received and upped it up a notch. Main character gets punished for minor things, being put in darkness and isolation, is told she’s useless after spending the first pages of the book emphasizing there’s always work to be don This was horrible. I love sci fi, I love dark fantasy, but this ain’t it. Tons of issues right off the get go and reading reviews, it only got worse. There’s a reason there’s so many low ratings and many DNF. It’s like the author took the horrible treatment that Harry Potter received and upped it up a notch. Main character gets punished for minor things, being put in darkness and isolation, is told she’s useless after spending the first pages of the book emphasizing there’s always work to be done, but this is happening when the character is 5. Family talks about just letting her be killed, even having a pet where the captain doesn’t want to try and save her as she almost dies. She’s “useless” but can changes genes and ever offers to work with the plants and start studying them so she can change their genes to produce more, but they just say “no the plants are fine the way they are” BUT THE WHOLE COUNTING CALORIES AND FOOD RATIONING IS THE MAJOR PLOT FO THIS??????? it just wanted to hammer it in that the character is experiencing cruelty, but guess what? She doesn’t really respond to the treatment. She just deals with it. No emotional trauma, no insight to how she’s reacting, and she just accepts it. Pacing was terrible as well. It focuses so much on the treatment of a child before she’s older, yet the book isn’t that big. Why? Why not just mention her horrible life experiences as memories? Nah ok we gatta live through it to build up to forced pregnancies and men owning women. Oki 👍🏻 I didn’t even get to the forced pregnancy crap. I can’t believe this is YA. Can’t just slap YA and LGBT to get people to pick it up. I get there is an LGBT character, but that doesn’t make it an LGBT friendly book. Especially when you have forced pregnancies. Highly doubt LGBT characters would do well in this world.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kaley

    Quick Stats Age Rating: 13+ Overall: 2 stars Characters: 2/5 Plot: 2/5 Setting: 2.5/5 Writing: 2/5 This book… was… so… boring. According to Goodreads, it’s only 250 pages. I’m shocked, because it felt so long. There was so much potential in the premise and in the characters, but everything fell short. The plot slogged, and I had to force myself to finish the book. I felt like I should have liked the characters, but I couldn’t get myself to connect with any of them. They felt emotionless. I liked Fisher Quick Stats Age Rating: 13+ Overall: 2 stars Characters: 2/5 Plot: 2/5 Setting: 2.5/5 Writing: 2/5 This book… was… so… boring. According to Goodreads, it’s only 250 pages. I’m shocked, because it felt so long. There was so much potential in the premise and in the characters, but everything fell short. The plot slogged, and I had to force myself to finish the book. I felt like I should have liked the characters, but I couldn’t get myself to connect with any of them. They felt emotionless. I liked Fisher, I guess, and I was rooting for him, but I still didn’t care about him or connect with him nearly as much as I wanted to. If I hadn’t gotten this book as an ARC, I’d have DNFed it a couple pages in. It was just so dense. The book is split into 4 or 5 parts, and each part is preceded with a 5+ page info dump of history of the character/galactic politics/etc. and they were not presented in an interesting way. Using back story before each chapter or part is something I tend to really enjoy, if it’s done right. This was pure info dump, and it was painful to get through. Not to mention, everything in those info dumps was explained well enough within the body of the story as needed, so they were completely unnecessary in the long run. There was also this huge plot hole that just bothered the hell out of me the whole time—why didn’t Ned just sleep around. Like, they spend all this time stressed because if he dies, the whole station dies with him. He’s a man. It would not be that hard to get a bunch of girls pregnant and guarantee the safety of your people. Like, I get population control, but they never talked about being concerned with that. They let people immigrate in. Just close your borders, dont let other citizens procreate until you have a solid two male heirs to protect yourselves. Humans are incredibly easy to kill. Why was there no back ups? The point is, I did not enjoy this book. It sounded like it was going to be interesting, but the plot was extremely slow and lacking, the characters’ personalities and growth were nonexistent, and it just wasn’t worth it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ciera

    After reading E. K. Johnston’s Star Wars book Ahsoka, I was really excited to delve into another young adult space story by Johnston. I am not sure if what I was given by NetGalley was a really rough draft, but this story unfortunately read like an unfinished draft. The book is about a young girl named Pendt Harland who lives on her family’s spaceship in which she is despised by her entire family. Pendt, eager to escape her fate of forced insemination, manages to secretly leave her family’s ship After reading E. K. Johnston’s Star Wars book Ahsoka, I was really excited to delve into another young adult space story by Johnston. I am not sure if what I was given by NetGalley was a really rough draft, but this story unfortunately read like an unfinished draft. The book is about a young girl named Pendt Harland who lives on her family’s spaceship in which she is despised by her entire family. Pendt, eager to escape her fate of forced insemination, manages to secretly leave her family’s ship and sells herself to a set of young adult male twins to help continue their family line by becoming pregnant.   I was taken aback by the middle-grade writing interwoven with very adult themes. These themes include sexual content, human trafficking, confinement, and uncomfortable medical content. What else bothered me about Aetherbound was the inappropriate use of an eating disorder plotline which I found to be unnecessary and potentially triggering for young adult readers. The other plotlines were unfinished, the writing was poor, and the main character’s choices inadvertently imply that it is ok for women’s bodies to be used at the discretion of a man. Content warnings: eating disorder, sexual content, human trafficking, confinement, medical content, child abuse, kidnapping

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alysa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Thank you to @penguinteen for the eARC! Aetherbound is out May 25. 💫 This review contains some spoilers, so read at your own risk! I’ll be honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. I’m a big fan of Johnston’s Star Wars novels and I was so excited to try out her new original fantasy sci-fi novel set in space, especially knowing it featured a trans character and love interest. However, while the writing and the setting were beautiful, the plot just missed the mark for me. It’s a strange Thank you to @penguinteen for the eARC! Aetherbound is out May 25. 💫 This review contains some spoilers, so read at your own risk! I’ll be honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. I’m a big fan of Johnston’s Star Wars novels and I was so excited to try out her new original fantasy sci-fi novel set in space, especially knowing it featured a trans character and love interest. However, while the writing and the setting were beautiful, the plot just missed the mark for me. It’s a strange mix of boring but also weird; the idea of calories as fuel for magic was interesting but, even with the trigger warning at the beginning, was a little too heavily focused on. The emphasis on genetics was also a lot to follow, and the unusual pseudo-pregnancy subplot bordered on the wrong side of strange for me. The love story also fell flat, even though the characters were well written there was just absolutely no chemistry. Ultimately, it was a very ambitious novel but the risks just didn’t pay off.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matthijs van Soest

    Meh... Magic in space, magic that gets used to do some really strange s%$t with embryos and a fetus... and is apparently highly dependent on daily caloric intake. No trigger points for me, but still weird... Overall the story seemed to move too easily for the main characters at no point did I ever feel that any obstacles were not going to be overcome. There was never any suspense for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kate Welsh

    THIS WAS SO EXTREMELY GREAT. Definitely one of the best books of the year, and I immediately want a million more books set in this world.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    The story’s shaky and certain plot points are kind of murky; nonetheless, I liked this story about choosing one’s family, instead of the horror story one grew up with.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eva B.

    3.5 Huh, I...really can't gather my feelings on this one. It's unlike anything I've ever read and manages to be a soft story that deals with hard topics, but I also don't know if I liked it? I really liked Pendt, as well as the first and final parts, but I feel like things slowed down at the Brannick station and that we didn't get to know either of the Brannick boys very well. 3.5 Huh, I...really can't gather my feelings on this one. It's unlike anything I've ever read and manages to be a soft story that deals with hard topics, but I also don't know if I liked it? I really liked Pendt, as well as the first and final parts, but I feel like things slowed down at the Brannick station and that we didn't get to know either of the Brannick boys very well.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Me-Connie

    Aetherbound delivers what Johnston does best, a message to care for yourself as much as you deserve. Pendt Harland was born on a generational merchant ship in space, the number one goal is for the Harland to deliver its goods on time and on schedule. Travelling through fairly isolated regions of space, and without the ability to resupply, food in particular is rationed. Food only comes in the form of protein, veggie, or carb matter and is only available to members of the ship based on their worth Aetherbound delivers what Johnston does best, a message to care for yourself as much as you deserve. Pendt Harland was born on a generational merchant ship in space, the number one goal is for the Harland to deliver its goods on time and on schedule. Travelling through fairly isolated regions of space, and without the ability to resupply, food in particular is rationed. Food only comes in the form of protein, veggie, or carb matter and is only available to members of the ship based on their worth and their bare minimum dietary needs. And Pendt is worthless to the Harlands.* I want to commend EK Johnston for both the content warning at the beginning of the book and for the counting of grams of protein/veggie/carb matter. The fact that Pendt is not counting actual calories is the only thing which made this book readable for me. By slightly distancing the starvation method by having the "accountability" system be grams of food, Aetherbound became a readable book. If you have ever had difficulties with body image and dieting, please make sure you are in an okay headspace before you begin this book. *Pendt isn't completely worthless to the Harlands actually. "Pendt understood that her future has always been her body. Her family would rent out her ability to grow healthy children. (view spoiler)[ The world building is such that because Pendt was born on a generational merchant ship, she is owned by her family. (hide spoiler)] Even typing out that quote makes me sick to my stomach. Johnston delivers an absolutely amazing dissection about treating people for only the worth they were born with. I've heard people discuss about how people need to consume what is only necessary to survive and we're all familiar with the argument that the only purpose of a woman is to create infants. Johnston delivers a world where that is how the world works, and provides the reader the opportunity to take a good long hard look at it and reject it. I'm absolutely disgusted at a world that operates on these principles, and will do my best to make sure there is enjoyment in any world I can create. This is a Johnston book though, and Pendt's experiences with the Harlands only setup a journey of character growth for which I am envious: "A part of her ached, wondering what life would have been like if she hadn't always been so afraid. She was going to change that now too." I absolutely admire the strength of Pendt to leave an abusive situation and choose kindness once she leaves. So many people do not have the power to do so, but Pendt is both strong and soft. Pendt's determination is a quality that I wish I had. She chooses kindness at every opportunity, while continuing to remember to factor her own worth into her equations. The beautiful woman that Pendt grows into throughout the course of this book is a constant reminder to the reader to take care of themselves. To eat delicious food and not protein cubes. To value people and not what they can do for us. The magic system in this universe is directly correlated to food - if you eat, you can manipulate the aether according to your gift (genes, stars, electricity). If you're starved by your family on a merchant ship since you were five, you cannot perform any magic, even if you have the most powerful potential in the world. "Three hours ago, even thirty minutes ago, Pendt would have said no. But that was before bread. That was before cheese. That was before whatever "sweets" turned out to be." Our world is like Pendt's too. You need food to move. You need food to think. You need food and no body image should ever stop you from reaching your full potential. Pendt's relationship with food still makes me cry though. Her ability to appreciate every morsel and to allow herself to enjoy so wholeheartedly is just such a charged action for me. "Eventually her stomach grumbled, something that made her laugh. It was no longer a desperate sound, something that spoke of emptiness and food withheld. Instead, it was an almost pleasant rumble, a sound that remembered being full and would to be again, thank you very much." I cannot wait for Pendt to explore the entire universe of her power in the sequel. Note: The rest of this review does not have an adequate place to mention Fisher, but Fisher is just the perfect character. I love Fisher, the amount of research Johnston put into his character, and wish him all the happiness in the universe.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Echoing another review to say how badly I wanted to like this. Johnston's Ahsoka was a fantastic Star Wars entry. There are neat ideas here, namely magic indistinguishable from genetics, magic that burns bodily fuel, and the point of view of a character who grew up with a truly dystopian perspective toward counting calories. But it all feels rushed. Conversations flash by, some bordering on non sequitur. The main character's pragmatism is neat, but falls flat when the story doesn't feel complete Echoing another review to say how badly I wanted to like this. Johnston's Ahsoka was a fantastic Star Wars entry. There are neat ideas here, namely magic indistinguishable from genetics, magic that burns bodily fuel, and the point of view of a character who grew up with a truly dystopian perspective toward counting calories. But it all feels rushed. Conversations flash by, some bordering on non sequitur. The main character's pragmatism is neat, but falls flat when the story doesn't feel complete enough for the reader to really sink into the setting. Compare to An Unkindness of Ghosts for similar pragmatism born from scarcity on a generation ship. The writing in Aetherbound is sparse, choppy, sometimes oddly informal. As another reviewer pointed out, the majority of the action seems to be taking place elsewhere. World-building is unique but where the prose seems under-baked the lore is over-baked. Why does this story take place after the evil empire has mostly already fallen? And after all of it (view spoiler)[ a protagonist who could re-write living beings' genes with her mind saves the day by faking her death. (hide spoiler)] Well. An ARC was provided to me by Penguin Young Readers.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Content Warnings at ened of review. Thank you to Penguin Teen and Netgalley for the arc of this book! Can we talk about how gorgeous this cover is?! Pendt grew up knowing she was only worth the good she could do for the spaceship and her Family, and that her body was worth more than herself. On Brannick station, Ned and Fisher strain against the way they are trapped in their roles by their genetic heritage. The three make an alliance that seems to get what each of them want, but as the threat of th Content Warnings at ened of review. Thank you to Penguin Teen and Netgalley for the arc of this book! Can we talk about how gorgeous this cover is?! Pendt grew up knowing she was only worth the good she could do for the spaceship and her Family, and that her body was worth more than herself. On Brannick station, Ned and Fisher strain against the way they are trapped in their roles by their genetic heritage. The three make an alliance that seems to get what each of them want, but as the threat of the empire and Pendt's family looms, they will have to pull off unlikely schemes to survive. I really enjoyed the plot of this book! I was immediately hooked with Pendt's personality and her struggles with her family. She is such a strong character and was able to stay soft and caring even through her upbringing. I also immediately loved Fisher when his pov started. I loved the found family aspect and enjoyed the building relationships between Ned, Fisher, and Pendt. My complaint about this book is that it felt like it was building up to something that it never got to. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a series or not, but this entire book kind of felt like an extended exposition that was building up to something. It almost felt like a prequel? I really enjoyed the story, but it just felt like more action needed to happen. The pacing was a little strange, and every time I started to really enjoy a section it would change. I definitely think this could continue into a series with more action. That being said, I would definitely read this again and really loved the plot and characters! Pub Date: May 25, 2021 Content Warnings Graphic: Bullying, Child abuse, Confinement, Eating disorder, Kidnapping, Medical content, Medical trauma, Pregnancy, and Trafficking Minor: Animal death, Blood, Body horror, Gore, and Grief

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.