Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Literally the Best Reviews: In the Quick

In the Quick - Kate Hope Day

Random House

272 Pages

If you’ve read some of my other book reviews, you’ll already know that I love old school, hard science fiction novels like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. When I find a book that might fit that mold, I eagerly grab it. Such was the case with In the Quick by Kate Hope Day. From the summary on the inside cover, it appeared that this could be the next book among the hard science fiction novels that I’ve read.

June is a pre-teen girl who has a gift of being able to see engineering specs in her head. She is the niece of Peter Reed, a genius scientist for the National Space Program. She lives with her aunt and uncle and her cousin. After her uncle’s death, she has a hard time fitting in with her aunt and cousin. Her curiosity with how things work nearly results in disaster for her family. At this point, despite her tender age, her aunt sends her to the school that is named after her uncle. While she excels at her studies once she finds her rhythm, she finds it hard to make friends and form relationships. The age gap between her and her classmates is difficult to overcome.

Interacting with her uncle’s proteges does not bode well for the young June. Her ideas are often disregarded as juvenile and beneath them. Likewise she was not able to adequately explain her ideas to them because of intimidation and a lack of maturity. However, a few years later, when one of her late uncle’s missions seemingly fails, it’s June who has some of the best ideas for figuring out how to salvage the mission. 

June focuses her energy on a fuel cell issue, and ends up working with her former classmates on a solution to the suspected problem. In the ensuing troubleshooting process, June becomes an astronaut and travels off-planet for real world experiences with the faulty cells. During this time, her close interactions with one of her peers becomes romantic. However, underneath all the work and the growing feelings, there is something darker that could derail the whole new mission, and doom the original crew to an ignoble end. Will June be able to separate her feelings from what needs to be done?

In the Quick by Kate Hope Day is one of those old school, science fiction novels that harkens back to my favorite novels in the past. It has space travel, science, issues that have to be resolved with science and teamwork, and based on something that is just beyond our abilities now. You know that some time in the near future, this could actually happen. Those are the stories I like and the author delivers.

The development of June as a young child into adulthood as a prodigy is written superbly. She doesn’t understand herself just as much as those around her have trouble understanding her. June’s discomfort dripped off the page, even being uncomfortable to read some of those passages. While clamoring for attention and acceptance, June struggles to keep her emotions under control as she attempts to have her work taken seriously. She discovers more about herself in the face of nearly impossible odds. It is a triumphant story of a young woman overcoming adversity set among the cosmos of our near future.

If you’re like me and enjoy good old school science fiction, In the Quick by Kate Hope Day is a book you should read. At slightly less than 300 pages, this will be a quick read for you. She has another book, If, Then that I’d like to read. Luckily, that book is in my library system. I feel a request coming for that novel.

Craig Bacon will someday make it to space. And he’ll make it farther into space than that Bezos guy.