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Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak

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From internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) comes the sequel to Victories Greater Than Death in the thrilling adventure Unstoppable series, set against an intergalactic war. They'll do anything to be the people they were meant to be ― even journey into the heart of evil. Rachael Townsend is the first artist ever to leave Earth and j From internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) comes the sequel to Victories Greater Than Death in the thrilling adventure Unstoppable series, set against an intergalactic war. They'll do anything to be the people they were meant to be ― even journey into the heart of evil. Rachael Townsend is the first artist ever to leave Earth and journey out into the galaxy ― but after an encounter with an alien artifact, she can't make art at all. Elza Monteiro is determined to be the first human to venture inside the Palace of Scented Tears and compete for the chance to become a princess ― except that inside the palace, she finds the last person she ever wanted to see again. Tina Mains is studying at the Royal Space Academy with her friends, but she's not the badass space hero everyone was expecting. Soon Rachael is journeying into a dark void, Elza is on a deadly spy mission, and Tina is facing an impossible choice that could change all her friends lives forever.


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From internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) comes the sequel to Victories Greater Than Death in the thrilling adventure Unstoppable series, set against an intergalactic war. They'll do anything to be the people they were meant to be ― even journey into the heart of evil. Rachael Townsend is the first artist ever to leave Earth and j From internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) comes the sequel to Victories Greater Than Death in the thrilling adventure Unstoppable series, set against an intergalactic war. They'll do anything to be the people they were meant to be ― even journey into the heart of evil. Rachael Townsend is the first artist ever to leave Earth and journey out into the galaxy ― but after an encounter with an alien artifact, she can't make art at all. Elza Monteiro is determined to be the first human to venture inside the Palace of Scented Tears and compete for the chance to become a princess ― except that inside the palace, she finds the last person she ever wanted to see again. Tina Mains is studying at the Royal Space Academy with her friends, but she's not the badass space hero everyone was expecting. Soon Rachael is journeying into a dark void, Elza is on a deadly spy mission, and Tina is facing an impossible choice that could change all her friends lives forever.

30 review for Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the second installment within the Unstoppable series. Just like the first book, I absolutely fell in love with everyone's adventures throughout this. I was a little sad that they were on separate ones though for most of this book. Still, everything was completely magical and really fun to enjoy. I honestly never expect to get so emotional when it comes to Tina, Rachael or Elza. Yet, I always I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the second installment within the Unstoppable series. Just like the first book, I absolutely fell in love with everyone's adventures throughout this. I was a little sad that they were on separate ones though for most of this book. Still, everything was completely magical and really fun to enjoy. I honestly never expect to get so emotional when it comes to Tina, Rachael or Elza. Yet, I always do. Or maybe I just melted into an emotional puddle towards the end of this because so much was going on and I mentally couldn't take it. Either way, I also hoped for the best but expected the absolute worst. That ending was so freaking good and I'm still not over it. Definitely can't wait for the next book to come out because I really need to know what is going to happen next. Again, I need good news but will probably learn to cope with whatever outcome I get. Seriously so happy that I got the chance to read this and can't wait for Charlie's next space adventure masterpiece!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Rep: white pansexual cis female alien MC, Black Brazilian trans-nonbinary bisexual femme MC, white fat cishet female MC with anxiety, Indian cis female side character in a QPR with a female alien, achillean Black British genderfluid side character, Chinese cishet male side character, queer and nonbinary alien side characters. CWs: Death, gun violence, murder, injury/injury detail, mental illness (anxiety). Moderate: genocide recounted, war themes, xenophobia, sexual content. Minor: Abandonment.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emmalita

    Last year I read two of Charlie Jane Anders books, Victories Greater than Death and Never Say You Can’t Survive. Both were excellent and I recommend you read them. Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak is the sequel to Victories, so you really need to read that one first. Dreams is also closely related to Never Say You Can’t Survive, Anders’ book about writing. In Victories, Anders plays with the Chosen One trope. Tina is a clone of a great warrior and she was created to allow them to come back and fight Last year I read two of Charlie Jane Anders books, Victories Greater than Death and Never Say You Can’t Survive. Both were excellent and I recommend you read them. Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak is the sequel to Victories, so you really need to read that one first. Dreams is also closely related to Never Say You Can’t Survive, Anders’ book about writing. In Victories, Anders plays with the Chosen One trope. Tina is a clone of a great warrior and she was created to allow them to come back and fight the enemy. But it turns out that Tina is a teenager, with some good instincts, but no answers. What she has is a chosen family of friends and together they fight and defeat the bad guy. In Dreams, Tina’s best friend and her girlfriend, Rachel and Elza, are more central to the story. It was Rachel, not Tina, who saved the day, but as a huge cost. Now it feels like the victory itself is unraveling as Marrant and The Compassion turn reality on it’s head. Anders has distilled the terrors of the last few years, the terrors that we face right now, and put them into her book. How do you fight an enemy who can make love feel like hate and lies like the truth? In a challenging universe with an unnamed horror threatening, the teens are pursuing their own paths, but trying to stay connected. They struggle to be true to themselves when they aren’t always sure who they are. Still, the love between friends is what makes everything bearable. I can’t wait for the third instalment. I received this as an advance reader copy from Tor Teen via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    3.5 stars Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the sequel to Victories Greater than Death and follows immediately on from events in book 1 with our characters facing a new threat, as well as old enemies. We mainly follow Racheal, Tina and Elza and their friends as they go on their next adventures. Racheal is grappling with the fact she can’t make art anymore (her life’s passion) after her mysterious contact with an alien species. Elza is competing to become a princess and there encounters someone sh 3.5 stars Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the sequel to Victories Greater than Death and follows immediately on from events in book 1 with our characters facing a new threat, as well as old enemies. We mainly follow Racheal, Tina and Elza and their friends as they go on their next adventures. Racheal is grappling with the fact she can’t make art anymore (her life’s passion) after her mysterious contact with an alien species. Elza is competing to become a princess and there encounters someone she never wanted to see again. And Tina is studying at the space academy trying to live up to being the hero everyone thinks she is, while facing a very difficult choice. I had pretty similar feelings on this book as book 1 - it’s a fun sci-fi adventure with some great characters (although they are not all time faves they are very likeable) and I think it would be great for sci-fi beginners. However I don’t think it’s anything super unique or special and doesn’t really stand out to me, it’s the kind of book you enjoy while reading it but then never think about again. There is a lot of queer rep in this book which is great! I also thought the relationships were cute even if some of the conflicts were a bit rushed. I also thought it was slightly redundant to have the character pronouns in brackets straight after their name is introduced (not verbally, which would have made sense if that’s how characters introduce themselves to each other but it was just in the text which to me was completely pointless as they would just then use the pronouns in the prose so the reader can easily pick them up that way? Idk lol). Also something else that bugged me a bit was all the pop culture references - after book 1 I thought this was pure sci-fi but in this book at times it felt like reading a contemporary. Like why in this sci-fi space adventure are you taking about Ariana grande T_T Overall I would recommend this book, especially if you liked the first one. It is well paced and addictive to read with a great found family in space and an entertaining plot.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Felicia Harris

    Oh my gosh that cover! I am in love!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Another sweet, funny, and imaginative gem from the ever-lovely Charlie Jane Anders. I enjoyed the first book in this series, but the follow-up is even better. This charming and uniquely genre-bending space opera careens around the universe to all sorts of cleverly rendered worlds, while still feeling deeply evocative and relatable for us earthlings. I was so pleased to see more of a deep dive into Rachel’s character in this book, as well as the further development of the rest of the series’ princi Another sweet, funny, and imaginative gem from the ever-lovely Charlie Jane Anders. I enjoyed the first book in this series, but the follow-up is even better. This charming and uniquely genre-bending space opera careens around the universe to all sorts of cleverly rendered worlds, while still feeling deeply evocative and relatable for us earthlings. I was so pleased to see more of a deep dive into Rachel’s character in this book, as well as the further development of the rest of the series’ principal characters. Anders does a wonderful job with representation, no small feat in a novel where the cast is a veritable kitchen sink of diversity. While that is always an appealing concept in theory, too often authors lean back into a checklist-style cast of characters, and the result feels more like tokenism than representation. Not so with Anders, who creates fully-formed, captivating characters of all types, making the book feel welcoming and inclusive rather than like an attempt to meet a baseline for diversity. But it’s the humor and complex relationship dynamics of the story that really win over the reader. In a way, Anders has redefined the concept of superheroes in a way that the modern world desperately needs. And the writing, in addition to being thoughtful and well-plotted is (and I mean this as the utmost compliment) almost sneakily beautiful. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  7. 5 out of 5

    capricornreader

    you know those fake tumblr posts people used to make about going somewhere in public and doing something amazing and/or embarrassing and how absolutely everyone stared at them and then it culminates in everybody clapping reading this book felt very much like those vibes

  8. 5 out of 5

    madeline (The Bookish Mutant)

    TW/CW: sci-fi violence, murder, xenophobia, anxiety, descriptions of injury Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak had the unmistakable feel of a middle book. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it. Despite some of its shortcomings, Charlie Jane Anders’ brand of space opera is a breath of fresh air in the world of YA science fiction. The worlds she creates are multilayered, complex, and immersive, and all of the aliens in them are equally creative. For sci-fi fans looking for a series that’s end TW/CW: sci-fi violence, murder, xenophobia, anxiety, descriptions of injury Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak had the unmistakable feel of a middle book. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it. Despite some of its shortcomings, Charlie Jane Anders’ brand of space opera is a breath of fresh air in the world of YA science fiction. The worlds she creates are multilayered, complex, and immersive, and all of the aliens in them are equally creative. For sci-fi fans looking for a series that’s endlessly creative, look no further. What makes it even better is the vast range of diversity present—just to name a few, we have a queer protagonist, a Black, Brazilian, queer protagonist, and a plus-sized protagonist with anxiety as the stars of Dreams. There’s queer rep aplenty in Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak, and there’s something for everybody—it’d be hard to find some facet of yourself represented in some way in these books. That being said, there were certain aspects of Dreams that I wasn’t as big of a fan of. Anders’ writing was what stuck out to me in this book in particular. There’s not much dressing on her prose; that isn’t always a bad thing, but it felt very bare-bones to me—lots of “[they] felt,” “[they] knew,” “[they] saw,” etc. I forget if this was as exacerbated in book 1, but this was what took away from my enjoyment the most in Dreams. At times, it almost had the effect of being talked down to—not an ideal writing style. Additionally, I feel like the plot and pacing weren’t as strong as book 1’s were. While Victories moved at an almost dizzyingly breakneck pace, Dreams was comfortable to slow to a crawl, which was necessary for the character-building, but did little to move the plot forward. The plot itself was also lacking—it explored the paths of Tina, the protagonist of Victories, as well as Elza and Rachael. All of their POVs were interesting in concept, but Rachael’s tended to drag along. Although I love all of the characters that Anders created, it would’ve benefited the book so much more to just be from Tina’s POV; her plot was the most compelling of the three, and yet, it’s the one that the least time was allotted to. Once the three were reunited towards the end, it picked up, but before the last third of the book or so, it bordered on being a slog—I’m so surprised I’m saying that, given how overwhelmingly fast-paced Victories was! However, as in Victories, the themes were as strong and timely as ever. Togetherness, acceptance, and fighting xenophobia and prejudice are at the heart of this story, and with such a diverse and lovable cast, these themes shone brighter than ever. It’s just the kind of sci-fi story we need right now, and I’m excited to see how it ends next year! All in all, a victim of second-book syndrome that made up for some of its flaws with its timely themes and loving and accepting energy. 3.5 stars!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Lloyd

    In the first book in her Unstoppable trilogy, Charlie Jane Anders introduced six kids from Earth to a galaxy of possibilities through the Royal Fleet and the destiny of first-person narrator Tina Mains. In book two, Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak, we meet these teens again, struggling with all the disappointment and struggles that come with growing up. Tina takes a backseat to let her best friend Rachael and girlfriend Elza lead separate narrative threads. Elza has entered the Princess program - In the first book in her Unstoppable trilogy, Charlie Jane Anders introduced six kids from Earth to a galaxy of possibilities through the Royal Fleet and the destiny of first-person narrator Tina Mains. In book two, Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak, we meet these teens again, struggling with all the disappointment and struggles that come with growing up. Tina takes a backseat to let her best friend Rachael and girlfriend Elza lead separate narrative threads. Elza has entered the Princess program - training to be one of the few who could connect to the massive AI computer that helps the "Queen" of the Royal Fleet govern. Rachael, meanwhile, ended the last book connecting to an ancient species of aliens that committed atrocities trying to save the universe from a greater threat; now she must try to repair the damage done to her brain however she can. While I liked Victories Greater Than Death, it was not my favourite Charlie Jane Anders novel, and to begin with I suspected I would feel similarly about Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak. I did find the first third or so of this novel slow going, although I found myself really drawn to these characters as we got to spend more time with them. But by the final fifteen percent, it required actual physical effort for me to tear myself away from my kindle screen so that I could actually get on with my life. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book, even a book I’ve loved, that I’ve found this difficult to get out of. And that slow-going start? Absolutely essential set-up. When I think about trilogies I tend to think of them in terms of the three-act structure: part one is your set up, giving you the world and its basics; part two, the complication, taking the established elements of the world and giving them a twist; and part three is the resolution. This means that Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak does not offer many resolutions, but it does show us the world of this space fantasy in a more complicated light. We see the cracks in the benevolent façade of the Royal Fleet as it fails to use its resources to effectively help those in need; we see groups reject the idea of helping those less fortunate than themselves in order to live a more selfish existence; we see the unscrupulous take advantage of the situation for their own dubious means. And there is heroism, and heartbreak, as the title promises. I really can't wait for part three.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sage

    4 1/2 stars. I really liked this one. It's the middle book of a trilogy, so I was a little worried that there wouldn't be a satisfying plot arc, but Rachael & Elza's journeys were both really compelling. The whole Scoobies Do Space Opera thing is still fun, if simplistic, but the YA theme of figuring out what YOU want to do with your life, regardless of others' expectations, works well. I loved the plot twists, btw. I'm absolutely looking forward to the final book in the series. Age range maybe 1 4 1/2 stars. I really liked this one. It's the middle book of a trilogy, so I was a little worried that there wouldn't be a satisfying plot arc, but Rachael & Elza's journeys were both really compelling. The whole Scoobies Do Space Opera thing is still fun, if simplistic, but the YA theme of figuring out what YOU want to do with your life, regardless of others' expectations, works well. I loved the plot twists, btw. I'm absolutely looking forward to the final book in the series. Age range maybe 12 and up? There's some mild gore, but I don't recall anything needing a content warning. ARC

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alana

    Epic, human, never feels like a middle book, there's so much depth I looked up at 33% and went "wait, but they've grown as people so much, what else could there be?" (maybe the plot??)...just a stellar book, no pun intended. Well. Maybe a little. Epic, human, never feels like a middle book, there's so much depth I looked up at 33% and went "wait, but they've grown as people so much, what else could there be?" (maybe the plot??)...just a stellar book, no pun intended. Well. Maybe a little.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    In the first book, Tina the Chosen One and her friends fought space nazis to a draw and learned that galactic civilization was both more awesome and more terrible than any of them could have imagined. The galaxy is in a war, cold and hot. On the one side, there's a happy bubbly pluralistic empire with non hereditary space princesses and abundant resources. They are they heirs to the horrifically brutal Seven Pointed Empire. On the other side is The Compassion, who believe that the bilaterally sy In the first book, Tina the Chosen One and her friends fought space nazis to a draw and learned that galactic civilization was both more awesome and more terrible than any of them could have imagined. The galaxy is in a war, cold and hot. On the one side, there's a happy bubbly pluralistic empire with non hereditary space princesses and abundant resources. They are they heirs to the horrifically brutal Seven Pointed Empire. On the other side is The Compassion, who believe that the bilaterally symmetrical are the best, all those other species are the worst, and bilaterally symmetrical folks need to do the compassionate thing and end them. After all, The Shapers, who worked hard to make sure the bilaterally symmetrical evolved into space faring nations, must have known what they were doing, right? As it turns out, the Shapers were fighting a war and were turning sentients into forms that could be used in the end game. When The Compassion try to trigger the Shapers to return, people all over the galaxy are sucked away and incorporated into brutal structures for . . . reasons. In this, the second book of the trilogy, we find out the reason. I'd been toying with the idea that The Shapers - who called themselves the Vayt - were a metaphor for white supremacy and the patriarchy, brutalizing both those it favors and those it doesn't. I think there's some of that there. But as it turns out the Vayt were trying to protect life in this galaxy from extinction. There's a bigger war than the galactic government (who seem an awful lot like the political class here in the US) have any ability to fight. Kinda like patriarchy, white supremacy, environmental collapse, or the coming planet-killing comet. Our plucky heroes can see the truth and fight the future -- if they aren't taken down by baddies or their own anxieties. Also, someone just elected Trump -- I mean, let the bad guy take the palace. Good read. I really wish it came with illustrations. There are about 20 more characters in the book than I can keep in my head without a program. But I'm old and kids today probably won't have that problem.

  13. 4 out of 5

    amy

    Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and Macmillan-Tor for the ARC for review! Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the second in the Unstoppable series by Charlie Jane Anders, and her second foray into YA fiction. I wrote a review for the first in the series back when it came out, and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t the biggest fan. The parts were there, but it didn’t coalesce into a complete whole yet, at least in my opinion. The first book in the series focuses almost completely on Tina, and this Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and Macmillan-Tor for the ARC for review! Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the second in the Unstoppable series by Charlie Jane Anders, and her second foray into YA fiction. I wrote a review for the first in the series back when it came out, and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t the biggest fan. The parts were there, but it didn’t coalesce into a complete whole yet, at least in my opinion. The first book in the series focuses almost completely on Tina, and this sequel has three POV characters: Tina, Elza, and Rachel. Tina is grappling with living up to the legacy of Captain Argentian, Elza is trying to become a princess, and Rachel is attempting to gain back lost skill, while also trying to avoid the role that is being thrust upon her by everyone else. It seemed in my reading that Elza and Rachel got more page time, but that might be incorrect if you averaged it all out. To me, Elza and Rachel are more compelling characters whose character arcs I enjoyed watching unwind throughout the novel. In fact, almost every character in this sequel has a more compelling arc than in the first book. There are still moments in this one that I feel lean a little too heavy on pop culture references, in a way that feels kind of “how-do-you-do-fellow-kids”-esque, but I feel the story this time around really justifies it. All in all, I find myself excited for the third and final book in the series!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    Big thanks to Edelweiss for the e-galley. This anticipated sequel lived up to the hype I built up in my own head. Sequels are so hard to read and to write (I know this) and very rarely do the sophomore books live up to their predecessors. The unique characters continue their separate journies after the events of the first book. What I loved about this book was that we get a deeper look into their personalities, their dreams, their hopes etc, but also how their lives have changed. Tina takes a bac Big thanks to Edelweiss for the e-galley. This anticipated sequel lived up to the hype I built up in my own head. Sequels are so hard to read and to write (I know this) and very rarely do the sophomore books live up to their predecessors. The unique characters continue their separate journies after the events of the first book. What I loved about this book was that we get a deeper look into their personalities, their dreams, their hopes etc, but also how their lives have changed. Tina takes a backseat in this one, but she is still a vital character. We focus a lot on her girlfriend Rachel and fellow Earthling Elza. The beginning of the story is a lot of build-ups where we get a look at their new lives and I'm grateful for the deeper look into these characters. Rachel gets the agency she so wholly deserved. I am patiently waiting for book three. But that ending though....GAH Bookstagram

  15. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Newman

    I enjoyed Victories Greater than Death, the first book in the series, quite a bit, but felt more than anything that I'd like the second book even more-- and I was right. With less need to frantically worldbuild, Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak focuses more heavily on characters and relationships. Where it does expand the universe, the basics are covered, so we get to see the cool corners and idiosyncracies of the world(s). A couple favorite things: -a VERY good identity reveal -a great heist -Rachae I enjoyed Victories Greater than Death, the first book in the series, quite a bit, but felt more than anything that I'd like the second book even more-- and I was right. With less need to frantically worldbuild, Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak focuses more heavily on characters and relationships. Where it does expand the universe, the basics are covered, so we get to see the cool corners and idiosyncracies of the world(s). A couple favorite things: -a VERY good identity reveal -a great heist -Rachael got the agency she deserved in this book, and more -Elza kicks a whole lot of butt -lots of different kinds of relationships (romantic/otherwise) are explored and valued This is a bit of a soapbox I like to get on but this is a highly successful middle book of a trilogy- it has its own plot that builds and resolves nicely, but in a way that leaves me extremely excited for the conclusion.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Allie // Kitasai

    Thankyou to the publisher for giving me an e-book copy of this arc. I didn't love the first book and I had already requested this before I read the first book, which was my first mistake. This picks up right after the first book, and although I only read that about a month ago, everything had left my brain. I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style throughout either of these, and I found this one had a lot of "this thing happened" without an indepth explanation, before moving onto the next thing. Thankyou to the publisher for giving me an e-book copy of this arc. I didn't love the first book and I had already requested this before I read the first book, which was my first mistake. This picks up right after the first book, and although I only read that about a month ago, everything had left my brain. I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style throughout either of these, and I found this one had a lot of "this thing happened" without an indepth explanation, before moving onto the next thing. 2/5 - not for me unfortunately. I also unhauled the first book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lovely Loveday

    Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the second book in the Unstoppable series by Charlie Jane Anders. This young adult sci-fi fantasy is full of twists and turns. It is well-paced and addictive to read with a great found family in space and an entertaining plot.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Another wonderful entry in the Unstoppable series. Things pick up pretty much right where we left off from Victories Greater Than Death. Rachael is recovering from mind melding with that device and saving the galaxy, and everyone else is getting involved with their new lives. A fun rollicking adventure that you never really know where it's going to go. Unlike the last book, much of this book separates our favorite characters and doesn't allow them to work together, but this allows new fun charact Another wonderful entry in the Unstoppable series. Things pick up pretty much right where we left off from Victories Greater Than Death. Rachael is recovering from mind melding with that device and saving the galaxy, and everyone else is getting involved with their new lives. A fun rollicking adventure that you never really know where it's going to go. Unlike the last book, much of this book separates our favorite characters and doesn't allow them to work together, but this allows new fun characters to be introduced. Including an elusive artist, who has secrets we learn about as the book goes on. The book follows the point of view of two main characters (with some chapters here and there from Tina's point of view.) Rachael, and Elza are who we hear the story from the most part. Rachael is still working through what happened to her after the mind meld, and trying to figure out if she has lost her art permanently. Elza is working to become princess by going to princess school. (That sounds silly, but it is really like that in a good way.) The cross galactic bad guys are on their way to destroy suns, while the interior threat is getting worse. The Compassion is taking over a once friendly planet, and Marrant has figured his way out. And then of course there's Tina and the walnut (I Actually forget what it is. Something small) that will give all of Thoa's memories and personality back to her all at once, erasing Tina. Lots of fun things happen! And, then we get to the end that ends as any middle (middle? I would wish for more, but i am guessing this is just a trilogy) book should with a cliff hanger on several different fronts! And, also like the first book there's so much more in these pages. Depression, anxiety, in love vs love, consent, and grief (so much grief!). It's a wonderful book, and I'd recommend it to anyone who asks.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Roxburgh

    Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is a dramatic, heart-wrenching sequel. Charlie Jane Anders has beautifully written her characters - they're given space to be flawed. The space to be fragile and messy and react to the world like the teenagers they are. The way they navigate an alien nation is inherently informed by their identity as the only representatives of Earth, and you see that reflected so often in the book. The characters are often found to be linking specific cultural and temporal moments Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is a dramatic, heart-wrenching sequel. Charlie Jane Anders has beautifully written her characters - they're given space to be flawed. The space to be fragile and messy and react to the world like the teenagers they are. The way they navigate an alien nation is inherently informed by their identity as the only representatives of Earth, and you see that reflected so often in the book. The characters are often found to be linking specific cultural and temporal moments to their life on earth. The book has a tremendous depiction of the mental strain of living through the rise of fascism. She manages to render how xenophobic populist leaders use existential threats to their advantage to garner political favour. However, despite this, the characters are still shown to be hopeful - there is a strong focus on the value of rallying within a community to push back against dangerous narratives. It is a glorious and necessary hopepunk narrative in a grim world.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pippin Hart • The Pigeon

    "But also...people fear knowledge. Knowledge is hard and grotesque, and messy, and it eats away at whatever you believe in. We cannot travel across the stars and keep worlds safe and well fed without knowledge, but nobody has to like it." Another weird and wonderful installment in Charlie Jane Anders' romp of a space opera, the Unstoppable series, and this one is even better than the last! Her choice of dual perspectives, pairing Rachel (an artist) and Elza (a coder and aspiring princess) as n "But also...people fear knowledge. Knowledge is hard and grotesque, and messy, and it eats away at whatever you believe in. We cannot travel across the stars and keep worlds safe and well fed without knowledge, but nobody has to like it." Another weird and wonderful installment in Charlie Jane Anders' romp of a space opera, the Unstoppable series, and this one is even better than the last! Her choice of dual perspectives, pairing Rachel (an artist) and Elza (a coder and aspiring princess) as narrators, fleshes out the ensemble in a way the last book couldn't quite swing, and sheds some light on two wildly unique––and wildly different––hero's journeys amidst a miasma of interstellar chaos. The physics elements in this one were a tad cloudy, though. It also sometimes seemed like the plot couldn't decide whether or not to bring different sets of characters together: we'd get a team-up, only to have the new friends rocketed off in opposite directions for their respective missions. (And, though the multiple perspectives give Anders more room to introduce new characters, there are still way too many for most of them to get their due chance to shine!) This ambitious, maybe even too-ambitious, book, though, uses its chaos much like the recent movie Everything Everywhere All At Once* does: the mess speaks volumes to our hyper-saturated, hyper-informed current moment. And for that, I think it's an important book––because through both of these delightful leads, we learn how to keep going through it all. *If you like this movie, you are the target audience for this book. Likewise in the opposite direction––thank me later 😌 - (22/11/21) I would gladly eat Cydoghian eggburst if it meant I could get my hands on this book early 😌

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sam Veltre

    Charlie Jane does it again, no second book in a trilogy letdown here. Fast paced dual POV narrative style makes for lightning quick read. At first I was unsure about the switching of POV from Tina to Racheal / Elza but I quickly found I enjoyed these two characters' adventures and growth. Their internal dialogs are very sincere in their opinions, insecurities / trauma, and selfhood / identity. Many passages made me stop and interrogate my own or others' view of identity / gender which is what gr Charlie Jane does it again, no second book in a trilogy letdown here. Fast paced dual POV narrative style makes for lightning quick read. At first I was unsure about the switching of POV from Tina to Racheal / Elza but I quickly found I enjoyed these two characters' adventures and growth. Their internal dialogs are very sincere in their opinions, insecurities / trauma, and selfhood / identity. Many passages made me stop and interrogate my own or others' view of identity / gender which is what great Sci-Fi does; Anders writes these sections with empathy and understanding, making it very relatable to any aged reader. The other human characters are not forgotten about, are given lots to do and are complex individuals; in addition we meet several new memorable characters and see some returning ones. The world building is expanded, introducing lots of fun new species or locations each uniquely and exquisitely detailing by Charlie Jane. The switching POVs provide new experiences in this world unlike many other YA trilogies where its much the same plot or settings but bigger. The raised stakes feel organic to the story as it plays out. I especially loved how Anders' weaves in current time allegories (access and control of information, protest movements, the insidious nature of politics and whom people turn to in states of fear, what is art at its truest sense). I'll be honest, I have many love-expressing sections highlighted to say to my partner! thank you to netgalley for an advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review. #netgalley

  22. 4 out of 5

    Claudio

    Rarely in a trilogy is the second volume better than the first. There are fabulous exceptions, of course, and Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is one of them. I certainly enjoyed the first volume, I can even say I'm a big Charlie Jane fan, but I had the impression that being a YA novel and having left that age long ago, it just wasn't for me. A novel that underneath taught kids basic important things, and indeed "taught", ended up being a bit didactic for my taste. The second volume nicely gets rid Rarely in a trilogy is the second volume better than the first. There are fabulous exceptions, of course, and Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is one of them. I certainly enjoyed the first volume, I can even say I'm a big Charlie Jane fan, but I had the impression that being a YA novel and having left that age long ago, it just wasn't for me. A novel that underneath taught kids basic important things, and indeed "taught", ended up being a bit didactic for my taste. The second volume nicely gets rid of this didactic tone and is free to fly, to focus not so much on the plot but on the growth of the three main characters. Yes, Tina is no longer the sole protagonist but shares the stage with Rachael and Elza, each intent on their own path, forced to make painful choices to become adults while the universe crumbles around them. Can our heroes save the universe? More importantly, will they be able to save what makes them who they are on this journey? I'll have to wait another year to find out... I thank Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for a frank review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ana W

    I was excited to read this book because I really loved the previous book in the series, Victories Greater Than Death. I enjoyed the great creativity and imagination of this science fiction work. Unfortunately, I found the story line hard to follow. Things would happen that didn't make much sense and then in the next sentence there would be a short explanation that that's how things work. I wanted to understand the world/city the story was set in and not feel like everything was random. I also fo I was excited to read this book because I really loved the previous book in the series, Victories Greater Than Death. I enjoyed the great creativity and imagination of this science fiction work. Unfortunately, I found the story line hard to follow. Things would happen that didn't make much sense and then in the next sentence there would be a short explanation that that's how things work. I wanted to understand the world/city the story was set in and not feel like everything was random. I also found it confusing that the narrative rotated between following so many main characters. I think that reading Victories Greater Than Death immediately before reading Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak would have been helpful. Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for my honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heather Jones

    I loved this novel - it was even better than the first book in the series, which is saying something, because the first book was pretty fantastic. Usually, the middle book of a trilogy is the weak one, but Charlie Jane Anders broke the Book Two Curse for sure. I cannot wait to read the third volume, but I guess I have to. The characters are rich, complex, and deeply sympathetic, the alien cultures and places are delightfully strange, and the whole book is suffused with hope and joy and art in a w I loved this novel - it was even better than the first book in the series, which is saying something, because the first book was pretty fantastic. Usually, the middle book of a trilogy is the weak one, but Charlie Jane Anders broke the Book Two Curse for sure. I cannot wait to read the third volume, but I guess I have to. The characters are rich, complex, and deeply sympathetic, the alien cultures and places are delightfully strange, and the whole book is suffused with hope and joy and art in a way that is just what my soul needed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Originally published on Nerds & Beyond: https://www.nerdsandbeyond.com/2022/0... One of the greatest aspects that sets Dreams apart from Victories is the rotating POV chapters. This time, Anders hands the spotlight to Rachael and Elza, with interludes for Tina. There’s a lot still happening with this story, so splitting up the POVs allows Anders to open the world, both in a physical sense and through her characters. For starters, I just loved traversing new planets with these characters, especial Originally published on Nerds & Beyond: https://www.nerdsandbeyond.com/2022/0... One of the greatest aspects that sets Dreams apart from Victories is the rotating POV chapters. This time, Anders hands the spotlight to Rachael and Elza, with interludes for Tina. There’s a lot still happening with this story, so splitting up the POVs allows Anders to open the world, both in a physical sense and through her characters. For starters, I just loved traversing new planets with these characters, especially Wentrolo, which is central to the story. Anders’ descriptions of Wentrolo are enough to make me (and any reader) wish I could live there, too. She guides readers across the galaxy, visiting planets that each have unique and intriguing qualities. She also introduces a plethora of a new alien species that help reinforce the scope of this book. Beyond the immersive new worlds, Anders delves into the psyches of Rachael and Elza. She does a wonderful job exploring how both girls (and the others) fit into the newest chapter of their journeys. Rachael faces a challenge that seems truly insurmountable. Her encounter with the Vayt left her unable to do the one thing she excelled at, and that’s creating art. Moreover, Rachael now holds a connection with Vayt, which has its own set of pros and cons (well … mostly cons). In both regards, Anders brings readers through the lasting trauma Rachael faces, especially as she struggles to find her place with everyone else. However, Rachael remains pivotal to the story. Through her, Anders provides more answers about the Vayt and the threat that frightens even them. Readers also see the evolution of Rachael and Yiwei’s relationship, and how it expounds on everything Rachael experiences. Like Rachael, Anders gradually unveils new information through Elza, largely how princesses and the Ardenii operate, something that was touched upon in book 1. Readers experience Elza’s curiosity along with her and get to see more about how her puzzle-oriented brain thinks. Anders also digs more into Elza’s prior life on Earth. Her history more deeply informs her guarded, cynical nature, and it’s easy to feel protective of her. Readers see how Elza’s past causes her to be empathetic towards those who have also been ostracized. But what stood out most for me with Elza is that readers see her softer side due to Tina. The buildup from book 1 pays off so, so well as Anders explores Elza and Tina’s relationship, and it’s just so lovely. While the problems facing the galaxy stir bad memories and anxiety within Elza, Anders always ensures she has a safe place to land with Tina. The Compassion is another standout element for me, especially with such a provocative opening for Dreams. In book 1, readers learned in general the harmful nature of the Compassion and the dangerous principles one of its leaders, Marrant, abides by. In this book, readers get to learn more about Marrant’s background. Anders also continues to explore the Compassion as she uses them to illustrate the rise of a fascist regime. While readers know that every statement spouted by the Compassion should be ignored, it’s fascinating to read how their seductive rhetoric drew in supporters who simply wanted answers. And if the Compassion gave them? So be it. Anders skillfully writes a horrible but compelling group. She highlights how desperation can get the better of people, and how that in turn can quickly lead them to retaliate against their own. It’s frustrating to read but also entirely real, and Anders doesn’t hold back. If you enjoyed Victories Greater Than Death, you will adore Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak. Anders’ charming wit and sharp humor carries over to Dreams, providing laugh-out-loud moments of levity to break up the intensity of the overall story. Despite that, not once does she forget the massive stakes she’s laid out (and whew, are they massive). She tackles the fascist parallels in a clever and thoughtful way that also feels quite grounded. Every twist and reveal feels earned. But most importantly (at least for me), the characters undergo so much growth, and Anders doesn’t compromise their established personalities. Readers, I think, will feel even more connected to the core group as they continue to search for their purpose in a starkly human way. They experience pain and hardships, love and yearning, and they remain the badass queer space heroes that readers will gladly root for.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Susanna

    It’s not often that the second book in a trilogy is better than the first, but Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is. The world is richer, the plot is more exciting and coherent, and the characters are more interesting, with good personal growth arcs. The book starts soon after the first ends. The six teenagers from earth have settled on the ruling planet to pursue their dreams. Tina, the sole point of view character of the first book, is in the military academy to train to be the hero she was genetic It’s not often that the second book in a trilogy is better than the first, but Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is. The world is richer, the plot is more exciting and coherent, and the characters are more interesting, with good personal growth arcs. The book starts soon after the first ends. The six teenagers from earth have settled on the ruling planet to pursue their dreams. Tina, the sole point of view character of the first book, is in the military academy to train to be the hero she was genetically supposed to be. However, she isn’t the POV character in this book, and we only catch glimpses of her training and adventures through her diary entries. Her story isn’t at the centre of the plot anyway, so the narrative choice works well. The two POV characters are Rachel and Elsa. Rachel saved the universe at the end of the first book, and she’s now living with the consequences. She has nightmares and headaches, and she’s constantly pestered by the authorities to reveal everything she knows about the aliens and their intentions, only she doesn’t remember anything. And the worst of all, she’s lost her ability to make art. When the authorities decide to take a direct route to her mind—through her brain—it’s time for her to flee. Elsa is living her dream, competing to be accepted in the princess programme. It’s less about being regal and more about being able to join her mind with an ancient hivemind species who monitor everything that happens in the universe. But most of her time she studies the history of Marrat, the megalomaniac enemy they didn’t manage to defeat. And now he’s been given a free range at the royal palace. The three girls and their friends embark on three different spaceships to find answers to their problems, only to unite when Marrat makes his move. Once again, he manages to destroy everything, and it’s up to the humans to fix the mess. But this time they might not be able to. The ending was great, and promises an exciting conclusion for the trilogy. Like the previous book, this was about inclusion, acceptance, and self-discovery. The humans present themselves in various ways they have been unable to do when still living at home, and they’re thriving. Everyone is conscious of pronouns and asking permission to invade the personal space of others, and it happens more naturally than in the first book where it tended to stick out. They seem to be more mature, too, than the teenagers of the first book. They are more like adults who actually might be able to save the universe. But as a species, they’re being treated as inferior. Much of the plot is about defeating the reign of Compassion that tries to purge the universe of lesser species in the name of freedom. Hopefully the humans will manage it in the conclusion—though it might be smallest of their problems. I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Liz (Quirky Cat)

    The sequel to Charlie Jane Anders' Victories Greater Than Death is finally here! Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the second novel in the Unstoppable series, and I am still utterly enthralled by this series (and the universe within). This is the universe on the brink of change. Evil still lurks at nearly every corner – but a determined group of heroes is doing everything in their power to prevent an intergalactic war from breaking out. The first of our heroes is Rachel Townsend, an Earth artist The sequel to Charlie Jane Anders' Victories Greater Than Death is finally here! Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the second novel in the Unstoppable series, and I am still utterly enthralled by this series (and the universe within). This is the universe on the brink of change. Evil still lurks at nearly every corner – but a determined group of heroes is doing everything in their power to prevent an intergalactic war from breaking out. The first of our heroes is Rachel Townsend, an Earth artist – the first of her kind ever to make it off the planet. Yet the term has come to be a painful one, as she's lost the ability to make art. Then there's Elza Monteiro, a fierce and determined sort of human. She ran for the opportunity to become a princess...only that path was not what she expected. Finally, there's Tina Mains. She's been studying at the Royal Space Academy, and she still feels like she is constantly letting down everyone around her. It doesn't help that their expectations were so high. Yet these three, alongside their friends, will have to rally if they want to find a way to prevent a war from tearing apart their known universe. Literally. “If you attain a high enough status, then normality is whatever you say.” Let me be the first to say that I adored Victories Greater Than Death – it was brilliant and so much fun to read. Now, keep that in mind when I say that Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak somehow surpassed my expectations, creating an enchanting sequel far better than I could have ever hoped for. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like we got to know the characters better in this series segment. Perhaps that is because so much of the worldbuilding had already been done, I'm not sure. I did appreciate the opportunity to know Rachel, Elza, and Tina better. Their stories are what make this series shine. The sheer amount of rep in Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak (and the series as a whole) will always be something that makes me smile. Any reader should be able to pick up this series and find a reflection of themselves somewhere within the pages. I sincerely hope that is the case, at any rate. There are a lot of pop culture references woven into the story, which I found to be a lot of fun. In my mind, it sort of grounds the more science fiction elements at any rate. I know that these references might eventually end up dating the series, but I'm okay with that trade-off. However, I know not all readers like their stories full of references, so keep that in mind. Long story short – I loved Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak. I gobbled it up in a single sitting and will now happily wait for the next novel in the series (Promises Greater Than Darkness) to drop. Thanks to Tor Teen and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own. Read more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steven Shaviro

    This is the second volume of Charlie Jane Anders' YA space opera trilogy, following Victories Greater Than Death, which I reviewed on my blog . Everything I said there is still pretty much true of the sequel. We get six human teenagers who find themselves the first people from Earth to have joined a greater galactic federation of sentient species of many sorts and from many planets. They find out that the galactic federation, though splendid and beautiful in many ways, still isn't all it was cra This is the second volume of Charlie Jane Anders' YA space opera trilogy, following Victories Greater Than Death, which I reviewed on my blog . Everything I said there is still pretty much true of the sequel. We get six human teenagers who find themselves the first people from Earth to have joined a greater galactic federation of sentient species of many sorts and from many planets. They find out that the galactic federation, though splendid and beautiful in many ways, still isn't all it was cracked up to be. There is a great degree of racism (directed by humaniod species against other, non-mammalian sorts of intelligent life; and also many of these groups regard Earth people as inferior to themselves), and a creaky, bureaucratic government structure that isn't altogether great in itself, though it is clearly better than the Trumpesque opposition, ironically calling itself the Compassion, that is spreading through the galaxy, winning military battle, finessing diplomatic arrangements, and orchestrating coups d'etat on various planets. Also we learn more about the galactic peril intimated at the end of the previous volume, which could end everything even if The Compassion were defeated. Our Earth teens are going through their own traumas regarding relationships and unsatisfied ambitions -- most seriously, Rachel, one of the heroes of the previous volume, has somehow lost her ability to make art -- and yet they still have to stand up to save the galaxy, because nobody else is capable of doing it. The amplification of teenage angst fits well into the overall wild and wacky -- but with an underlying weight -- depiction of the galactic multicultures. In a certain way, this book is in many ways like the old fashioned space operas of the 1950s and following decades that I still love, but thankfully updated with a vibrant mix of multiracial and LGBTQ+ characters, instead of the old stogy white-cis-male centrism of yore. Also written in a more vibrant prose than many of the old masters were capable of. I read this volume addictively, and with great pleasure -- with happy bursts of recognition, with joyful surprise at what I didn't see coming, as well as with thrills and chills over the dangers, the plot twists, and the successes of the bad guys. As the middle book of a trilogy is supposed to, it ends with some victories, but also with a terrible cliffhanger - I can't wait until the final volume is published (presumably a year from now).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen Cohn

    Dreams Bigger Than Hearbreak falls prey to the problems that impact many sequels: it's just as good as the first book. Nothing is really new, in that the characters, setting, and even the basic plotline have been determined and laid out in the first volume. This one focuses on different characters than Victories Greater Than Death did, which helps some, but not enough, in my opinion. The main storyline is about Rachael trying to regain her ability to draw, destroyed by her actions to save the uni Dreams Bigger Than Hearbreak falls prey to the problems that impact many sequels: it's just as good as the first book. Nothing is really new, in that the characters, setting, and even the basic plotline have been determined and laid out in the first volume. This one focuses on different characters than Victories Greater Than Death did, which helps some, but not enough, in my opinion. The main storyline is about Rachael trying to regain her ability to draw, destroyed by her actions to save the universe in the first novel, while everyone in the book is trying, once again, to defeat the Vayt. It's interesting as a motivation, but it's not really a big enough issue to build a novel around - and yet, Anders does so. This is not the wide-reaching novel of first contact (at least as far Earth knows) that the previous volume was; it's a space opera, and one that leans heavily on high school-type social interactions. Every character is introduced with their gender identity, which is, I would guess, intended to be edgy and up-to-date, but since characters' gender identity have absolutely no bearing on their actions, other than who pairs off with whom, it's less of interest and more a distraction, one that could be avoided by simply using the appropriate pronouns. I have no problem with a character who changes how they perceive their gender, but it had no purpose to the story; likewise, I have no problem with the idea that aliens may have genders we've never considered, but at the same time, such should be identified with nonsense words - "fire" as a gender is rather distracting on the rare occasions it occurs, and again, it had no relevance to the story. I'm sure that there are people who will enjoy this novel, and as entertainment, it wasn't bad; it just wasn't great, either, and if I hadn't read the previous volume, I probably would have picked this up, read a few pages, and put it back down - but I was looking for the elements I enjoyed in the first book, and I never really found them. I found it to be predictable, and I didn't like the transformation of one character into another, who then spent the rest of the novel complaining about having been transformed in that way - especially after the build-up to the transformation in both volumes. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tehya

    This is my NetGalley digital ARC review: I am so excited about this! The sequel to Victories Greater Than Death is called Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak and it’s out on April 5th, 2022. So what’s it about? While the original character (Tina) grapples with the expectations of being a space hero after the battle in the first book, the sequel follows two new POVs. This is so lovely because we have an inside look into the backstories and cultures of Rachael (Tina’s best friend) and Elza (Tina’s girlf This is my NetGalley digital ARC review: I am so excited about this! The sequel to Victories Greater Than Death is called Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak and it’s out on April 5th, 2022. So what’s it about? While the original character (Tina) grapples with the expectations of being a space hero after the battle in the first book, the sequel follows two new POVs. This is so lovely because we have an inside look into the backstories and cultures of Rachael (Tina’s best friend) and Elza (Tina’s girlfriend). Rachael tries to regain her artistic ability to draw, and Elza competes at a princess school consisting of coding skills and weaponry training. But their three different paths collide when they fight against a new, more daunting galactic threat! My favorite thing about this book is the worldbuilding! It is unique and immersive. Right now, as I’m writing this and sipping on my tea, I’m pretending that I have a cup of snah-snah juice instead. Haha! The stakes are even higher in this book, with a threat spanning across galaxies. I feel like a reader’s bond with the characters over the course of two books also adds to the stakes because the reader is invested in their journeys… which brings me to the characters! I love the relationship between Rachael and Yiwei because of their dialogue, actions, and relatable teen conflict! If you like the trope “Saying I Love You Without Saying I Love You,” this is a cute character relationship to read! There were also some new characters, like a princess who talks in riddles and a mysterious artist who tries to help Rachael regain her art skills. I am in awe of the way the author tied everything together with a nice little bow. There are a lot of characters, planets, and groups of people/organizations, so it was nice that the author slowly reintroduced us to this space world. And by the halfway point of the book, the action picks up and it doesn’t stop! I didn’t have any guesses on how this would play out, which led to some startling reveals. I had the lovely opportunity of writing a review for both books thanks to NetGalley, and I can’t wait for the next installment of the Unstoppable series—especially since Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak ended on a cliffhanger.

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