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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

July 13, 2020

The Rentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

I was so thrilled when I learned that there was another book in the Lady Astronaut series coming out. The Relentless Moon was definitely one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and I couldn't wait to read it. It is definitely one of those books that you want to read straight through but are sad when you finished it so fast.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Relentless Moon cover
July 2020; Tor Books; 978-1250236951
audio, ebook, print (544 pages); alternate history
I loved Elma as the narrator of The Calculating Stars (book 1, read my review) and The Fated Sky (book 2, read my review), though sometimes her naivete wore on my nerves. So I wasn't sure how I would like a book narrated by a different lady astronaut (or astronauettes as they are called). I think I loved Nicole even more.

While you can probably read The Relentless Moon without reading the first two books, but I'm not sure you will enjoy it quite as much. You won't have the history that the lady astronauts went through to even be allowed in the program. And while this book is narrated by a different character, she and other characters appeared in the previous books. It's such a great series, you will want to read them anyway (just ask my book club who read The Calculating Stars last fall).

The series is an alternate history story set in the late 1950s, early 1960s. A meteor hits earth and sets the U.S. (and the rest of the world) on an accelerated course. They land on the moon a decade before we did in our own history. The roles open to women and people of color (POC) are also on an accelerated trajectory. It is important to set up a lunar colony as well as a colony on Mars as eventually, Earth will be inhabitable. In book 2, we get the story of the Mars expedition which Elma is part of. She is on that trip when the events in The Relentless Moon takes place.

In the first two books, I felt that the commentary on the role of women and POC was much more prominent. While we still see women and POC having to work harder, the struggle is much more subtle. The theme of privilege, though, does remain a major theme. Not everyone will be able to go to the moon or Mars, and there are people who think too many resources are being allocated to the space program, to the determinant of those that will be left behind. This issue results in conspiracy and sabotage and is the focus of The Relentless Moon.

Nicole is the wife of the governor of Kansas and is one of the original members of the space program. At 50, she is feeling her years but isn't ready to say goodbye to space. She also served as a WASP during WWII (her ability to fly is what helped to get her into the space program along with her looks and political ties). Her experience as an astronaut as well as the wife of a career politician makes her the perfect character for this story to unfold with. As the story is told in first person, it is important she has the history of the space program so that she can fill in gaps for the reader. But it is her experience that makes her competent to play the role she has in the story. Space is dangerous, but it isn't the natural dangers that one has to navigate. One must also be on the lookout for the interpersonal and political dangers.

I think I was kind of ambivalent about Nicole going into this novel. But hearing of her inner struggles and desires endeared her to me. She really shined as the main character and her transition from secondary character to protagonist was seamless. Just as I wanted more of Elma, now I want more Nicole. I know there are several novellas with events that occur before, between, and after these 3 novels. I haven't read any of them (yet), but I hope Nicole is featured in at least one.

According to Goodreads, a fourth book The Derivative Base is set to be released in 2022. It will be back with Elma. I hope there will be many more books in this series and I think it would be great if Mrytle or Helen had a turn as the protagonist. Elma and Nicole are both white Americans and while they face difficulties because they are women, I think getting Mrytle's (she a black American) and Helen's (she is Taiwanese) perspectives would be interesting and provide opportunities for commentary on issues we are dealing with today.

While reading The Relentless Moon I experienced so many emotions - I laughed out loud (literally) at some of the dialogue, my stomach clenched with tension as the saboteur goes to greater lengths to discredit and harm the space program, and my heart broke the losses the characters had to endure. I simultaneously couldn't wait to find out how it ended and didn't want it to end. It definitely left me with a bit of a book hangover.

Buy The Relentless Moon at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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  1. i love a book that gets my emotions going. this sounds really interesting and if i get a chance to read it, i will surely start at the beginning
    sherry @ fundinmental