Empress of a Thousand Skies
By Rhoda Belleza
Razorbill, 2017. 314 pages. Young Adult
Rhee's family was killed when she was just a child, making her the only surviving heir of an ancient dynasty that rules the galaxy. Now that she's of age, it's time for her coronation, but Rhee can only think of revenge. Alyosha is a war refugee who has found fame as the star of a show about two ragtag soldiers keeping the peace on the edge of space. But recently his ancestry was revealed and he struggles under the pressure of society's prejudice against him. When there's an assassination attempt on Rhee's life, Alyosha is blamed for it, and each tries to untangle the web of conspiracy that entangles them both while staying out of harm's way.
This was an interesting, complex story with great worldbuilding, intrigue, and action. Belleza doesn't tone down the complexity of her world just because she's writing for a young adult audience, which I really appreciate when so many YA books seem oversimplified. There were a few issues with the storytelling that I found distracting, a few plot points seemed superfluous, but overall this is an exciting newcomer to YA.