Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

“Drayden’s latest (after Temper, 2018) is a sweeping, smart, stunning story that dazzles brighter than a star system. Seske Kaleigh is the young heir to the command of a starship that is comprised of the insides of a whale-like space beast. Adalla is her best friend and lover of a lower caste. The young girls are among the descendants of Africa, who resettled among the stars and rely on whale-like space beasts to keep them alive. They carve out cities within the interior body cavern of the beasts and make a home there until the beast begins to die. Then, they move on, catching and carving up the next beast in order to ensure their continued survival. When their clan’s newest excavated beast is assailed with violent tremors, the girls embark on a journey to unearth the cause and save their people’s new home. The premise of Escaping Exodus is a biology lover’s dream, with an animal’s bones being used for building material and its circulatory system for mass transit. Yet, Drayden excels in writing the tech in a way that will reach out and ensnares every reader—not just biology geeks. She has created a whimsical, complex, rich setting whose world is the literal anatomy of a beast. Interwoven with the body horror, environmentalism, and classism that Drayden artfully explores is a love story between two Black girls from different castes, making Escaping Exodus a true gem to be treasured.” — Booklist, Starred Review