September 22, 2023
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Book Reviews Dystopian SCI-FI

The Challenger: Best YA Scifi with Great Characters

Author: Anders Aaslund

Genre: Science Fiction

Year Published: 2022

Nerdection Rating:

“Nerdection Must Read”

Reading about young adults standing up for their rights, and then toppling over governments, is something I find very exciting. Therefore, I loved The Challenger‘s unique take on this storyline. Written by Anders Aaslund, this YA sci-fi-dystopian is a book I recommend to all sci-fi fans.

Spoiler-free Plot:

Imogen Hart has been traveling aboard a ship, Conestoga, that left the crumbling remains of the Earth hundreds of years ago to colonize Alamea, a new planet. She’s been training throughout her life to be a pioneer, one of the first to step on the new planet.

However, one thing that Imogen wasn’t prepared for is her best friend Ellie’s sudden death. Soon, she learns that Ellie was harboring a dangerous secret. One that could topple down the world of Imogen and everyone else.

In this futuristic dystopian sci-fi book, The Challenger, Imogen will have to challenge the mighty Praesidium into submission. Accompanied by the charming Lex Bowman and her bot Pea, Imogen will do everything to avenge her dead best friend.

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My Take on The Challenger

The Challenger’s exquisite world about an AI-run ship traveling for hundreds of years is both baffling and believable. I was a little sick at the concept of recycling everything (yes, everything!). But again, Conestoga was a closed ship in the nothingness of space so naturally, resources were limited. Now enough of the economic chatter, I will let you in on what else I liked in this book!

-Imogen× Lex (aka the badass duo)
Oh, how I enjoyed their chemistry. It’s been a while since I read of a duo so… connected. With an unstoppable yet reserved Imogen and a charismatic natural leader Lex, you get a duo both fierce and sweet. That’s also how I successfully became a gushing fangirl for The Challenger.

-Imogen×Ellie (aka the avenger and the avenged)
I can literally cry over these two. The way Imogen recalls her time with her friend Ellie and how Aaslund brilliantly weaves Imogen’s narrative like she’s talking to Ellie was heartbreaking. Here’s a quote I read again and again, it’s so tragically beautiful.

Your face is already beginning to fade from my memory. I see your likeness in your therapy mimic, but it’s not enough. Seventeen days. That’s how fast we erase the ones we love from our brains when we no longer see them every day.

Imogen’s monologue to her dead friend Ellie

-Imogen (aka The Unstoppable)
She’s a real hero, folks. With one friend who is dead and the other who’s distanced himself, she was quite alone. But the athletic Imogen wasn’t called ‘The Unstoppable’ for nothing; the girl challenged the whole devilish governing body, The Praesidium without anybody’s support. I also loved how Aaslund made her into an AI geek. To Imogen Hart: I’m a fan.

Although, I usually love to find faults with the character development in fiction, but I’ll give the kudos to where it’s due. Every character in The Challenger was 3D and realistic, from Master Fletcher to the snarky Ninedi and that devilette Curator Dormer. I bet you will connect with these characters too.

Moreover, the dystopian setting of The Challenger is a little like your regular YA sci fi-dystopian. Yet the initial mystery and the plot tension keeps you hooked throughout.

All in all, this book is a rapid page-turner with a great premise and an even greater unfolding. You may want to be patient at the beginning to understand the world-building. Nothing complex, mind you but I promise, it’s worthwhile to read this book.

Absolutely recommended for fans of Marie Lu, The Challenger is a character-driven action-packed sci fi in which Star Trek meets Skyward with loveable tropes and a plot that’s sure to keep you on your toes.

About The Author Of The Challenger

Anders Aaslund has been writing since childhood. Quite how it happened, no one knows, but he enjoys lovingly creating characters and making them miserable. Hailing from Karlstad, Sweden, Anders received his Bachelor’s degree in media and communication studies from Karlstad University, after which he promptly set out to not work in the field. He failed.

He writes brainy science fiction space adventures for new adult readers. “The Challenger” is his debut novel and was inspired by world events of the past decade. Anders continues to live in Karlstad with his wife, but dreams of owning a house in Italy. When he’s not writing, traveling, cooking, and reading take up most of his time.

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