The world gives way A novel

Marissa Levien

Book - 2021

"In fifty years, Myrra will be free. Until then, she's a contract worker. Ever since she was five, her life and labor have belonged to the highest bidder on her contract--butchers, laundries, and now the powerful, secretive Carlyles. But when one night finds the Carlyles dead, Myrra is suddenly free a lot sooner than she anticipated--and at a cost she never could have imagined. Burdened with the Carlyles' orphaned daughter and the terrible secret they died to escape, she runs. With time running out, Myrra must come face to face with the truth about her world--and embrace what's left before it's too late"--

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Science fiction
New York, NY : Redhook 2021.
Main Author
Marissa Levien (author)
First edition
Physical Description
402 pages ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Humanity has pulled together to send a giant, multinational spaceship to a planet where the people and animals of Earth can thrive. In order to buy a ticket, a person needs either a huge amount of wealth or to enter into indentured servitude for their life and the lives of their family until the ship reaches its destination in 200 years. Myrra's contract has been purchased by a family at the top of the social pyramid. When Imogen, Myrra's contract holder, calls Myrra to her room, Myrra is not aware that her life is about to change dramatically. Imogen and her husband, Marcus, have been hiding a secret from Myrra and most others on the ship: the ship has a crack that is getting bigger and that no one on the ship can repair. Soon, faced with death in deep space far from anyone that might help, Myrra finds herself on her own with her freedom for the first time in her life. Readers who enjoy outer space adventures with themes of social change will enjoy.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

How to respond to the knowledge that the world is ending is the central question of Levien's middling sci-fi debut. Scrappy, intelligent Myrra Dal is a contract laborer on "the world," a generation ship destined for the planet Telos. Her latest contract is as a maid to the rich and powerful Carlyles and a nanny to their baby, Charlotte. But after both Imogene and Marcus Carlyle kill themselves, Myrra is wrongly suspected of foul play and forced to run from the law, carrying Charlotte and burdened with a terrible secret--there's a crack in the ship's hull. Born to criminals but raised by a security officer, Tobias Bendel is desperate to prove himself by catching Myrra, and as he tracks her across cities full of technological marvels, he comes to realize that he's embroiled in something larger than finding a runaway worker. Told from two engaging if underdeveloped perspectives and full of present-day analogs, this sci-fi adventure is an extended, often oddly meandering chase scene through familiar far-future landscapes. Combining detective work and slow-burn romance, Levien offers plenty for lovers of cross-genre sci-fi to engage with, but seasoned readers will long for more innovation in the worldbuilding. This is solid, but not groundbreaking. Agent: Sarah Bedingfield, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (Jun.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

DEBUT Living on a ship that has been traveling for generations to carry people from all walks of life to a new planet, Myrra has been a contract worker since the age of five; in 50 years, she'll be free. But Myrra wants more from her life, so on the night she arrives at work to find that her contract owners, the Carlyles, are dead, she goes on the run. She's soon pursued by Tobias Bendel of the Security Bureau. Myrra brings with her a shocking secret: The ship is failing. As Myrra and Tobias traverse the ship's varied cities and landscapes, they finally reach the point that the entire world now knows: The end is coming. They face down the apocalypse in a study of acceptance, of reconciling the past with the knowledge that there will be no future. Narrated alternately by Myrra and Tobias, interspersed with flashbacks from the ship's history, this apocalyptic tale balances hope and resignation on a knife's edge. VERDICT A debut that will keep readers engaged, for its characters' emotional depths and its inevitable ending.--Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Burdened with the knowledge that the world is ending, an indentured servant tries to make the most of what's left of her life. More than a century ago, humans left Earth on a world-ship bound for Telos. The rich and powerful bought their way aboard, but for the poor, a 200-year contract of generational servitude, which would end only upon arrival at their destination, proved to be the only means of getting off-world. Just before their deaths by suicide, the Carlyles tell 25-year-old Myrra--the third-generation indentured servant whose contract they own--that space will tear the irreparably damaged ship apart decades before it ever reaches Telos. Honoring her owners' final wishes, Myrra takes the Carlyles' infant daughter, Charlotte, and sets out as a fugitive contract-breaker to look for a good place to die. On her trail is Tobias--the police detective son of criminals, desperate to distance himself from his parents' legacy--who begins to feel a strong kinship with the resourceful young woman. Unfortunately, even though the third-person narration moves between their perspectives in alternating chapters, Myrra and Tobias never really come alive. The narrative voice keeps both characters at a distance that prevents readers from making emotional connections with them. Levien's debut makes no secret of the fact that the world is ending, but its shallow character sketches lack the depth necessary to make an audience care what happens to its cast before the final earthquake comes for them. An ambitious debut that falls just short of landing among the stars. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.