Review: Toxic by Lydia Kang

Toxic is a beautifully written science fiction story that I look forward to seeing more of in the future. However, I had some concerns.

Toxic CoverCyclo, the first and largest biological ship of its kind, is dying. A small crew of mercenaries have handed over the rights to their life to document the death of the ship, but the abandoned ship is anything but abandoned―one girl has been left behind.

Hana has known nothing but the isolation of a single room and the secret that has kept her there for seventeen years. When she 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.

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. Goodreads

I received an eARC of Toxic from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m almost always a fan of Lydia Kang’s work. I first read and reviewed her book Quackery with Nate Pederson, and then read The November Girl which blew me away. The rest of her work is high on my TBR list.

However, Toxic didn’t really hit the mark for me. It wasn’t because of the story, because the story was absolutely riveting. I loved Hana as a character and the living ship and the mystery of all of it. The scientific background of the universe that Kang created was my problem.

On the ship, there is a geneticist who creates and grows all of the humans are allowed to be born based on the number of people who have died recently on the ship. Their genetics are tweaked to be more useful to the ship and their current needs. It’s revealed later that they are also all sterile, unlike humans who are born “in the wild” like Fennec was. It felt very strongly eugenics-y in a way that really bothered me because it wasn’t explored at all.

That being said, there were a lot of things I did like about Toxic.loved Cyclo and her personality and attachment to Hana. It’s creepy and awesome. I would have loved to learn more about the different types of aliens as well because it seems like there’s a whole universe out there that we didn’t get to see a lot of.

I felt like the company’s motivations for sending the Selkirk’s crew out to Cyclo and letting them die there also needed more exploration. Kang set the book up for a sequel, and I’ll be interested to see what happens next for the survivors. If this sounds like something that would intrigue you, you can pick up a copy on Amazon or Indiebound.


Title: Toxic

Author: Lydia Kang

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Length: 368 Pages

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Rating: ★★★ / Three stars

Genre: Adult Science Fiction

Representation: Korean diaspora main character,

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