Toxic by Lydia Kang (DRC): A Gripping Tale of Abandoned Girls, Sentient Spaceships, and What It Means to Live


4 stars

Cyclo, the first and largest biological ship of its kind, is dying. And Hana is abandoned alone on Cyclo, after being illegally raised aboard the ship for seventeen years, stuck there with no way out.

Yet, a small crew of mercenaries have handed over the rights to their life to document the death Cyclo, and when Hana meets Fennec, the boy assigned to watch her, she realizes that there is a world she has yet to experience but she is doomed to never meet.

But when crew members begin mysteriously dying, Hana and Fenn realize that they are racing against the death of the ship to find a way to survive―unless someone kills them even before Hana’s truly had a chance to live.

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I absolutely adored Lydia Kang’s Toxic and have zero regrets about picking this amazing book up. (Thanks Jen @bookavid for recommending it to me!)

One of the most notable things about Toxic was how readable and gripping it was. I started it (unwisely) on a school night, hoping to read a few chapters before setting it down and going to bed, but I ended up binging the majority of this book very late at night when I definitely should have been sleeping.

I was just hooked, for a lack of a better word. Not only was I absorbed in the entire concept (sentient, live spaceships), but the book was just paced really well and grabbed me from the start. I mean, you begin the book in the middle of a shocking revelation for the main character, and this just kind of builds throughout the entire novel.

The whole premise is so interesting–sentient spaceships that are dying and releasing toxic fumes plus a girl who is the only person left on that ship and a whole crew full of people going into research this live-ship and also die while they complete their work. It was just really interesting and novel and unique, and that’s a big part of what I loved about Toxic.

Plus, back to how it was gripping, there’s sort of a murder mystery element to this novel with figuring out who is behind the mysterious deaths of the crew member, and this definitely was another reason behind why I was so hooked on this book.

It was just so cool–with the life-threatening situations and the girl raised by her “mother” and the sentient ship. Plus, I love the way Kang explored heritage in a science-fiction setting with Hana and some of the artifacts and traditions her “mother” gave her.

I do think it’s good to note that the main character feels more lower-YA (15/16) than what’s now becoming upper YA (17-19), and I actually really appreciate having more lower YA main characters, because for me that was a transition time that was really hard, and finding books that were a good in between of MG and YA was hard for me as a teen. (Yay for more accurate teen representation on a whole spectrum!)

But, the reason why this was a 4 and not a 5 for me, despite me enjoying this novel so much, was because the romance felt really unnecessary. I mean, first off, I’m not a huge fan of reading naïve, youngish characters fall in love. This can be uncomfortable for me, especially when they feel young (15/16) and the love interest feels older (17/18), because these sorts of relationships feel more prone to being unhealthy & manipulative & full of delusion.

And even more than that, I feel like it just took away from some of the better aspects and unique parts of this book and made it cliché. I didn’t really believe in the romance (it felt more like falling-in-love-with-your-savior) and I think it actually took away from the book, which I why my rating dropped so much.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Toxic and would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a gripping science-fiction read!

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!

much love, vicky

Have you read any books feat. sentient spaceships? I’ve only read one other–Honor Among Thieves which I also loved!

4 thoughts on “Toxic by Lydia Kang (DRC): A Gripping Tale of Abandoned Girls, Sentient Spaceships, and What It Means to Live

  1. Amazing review! ❤ Thank you for being so thorough. This is one that I was very torn on whether I wanted to request it or not, and your review helped me decide. I think there is a HUGE need for more young-YA protagonists in the industry, but I personally struggle with them, sadly (a big part of why I wasn't able to click with either of Sandhya Menon's books no matter how desperately I wanted to), so I think I'll pass on this one. You probably saved me from having to feel bad about not loving a review book, so thank you for that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahhh omg thank you so much! sad you’re not gonna read, but I am glad you’ve hopefully decided what’s best! if you want something older but with a similar sentient spaceship idea, check out HONOR AMONG THIEVES–that’s such a great read!

      Liked by 1 person

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