I originally fell in love with Hutchinson's writing while reading We Are the Ants. It was the first time I had read a book that I would classify as scifi-realism (it's like magical realism but with aliens, spaceships, or the theoretical underpinnings of time travel instead of magic systems, fairies, and dragons) and I loved every. single. heart-wrenching. second.
I guess the reference to "heart-wrenching" warrants a mention of the trauma, existential angst, and emotional rollercoasters that Hutchinson's main characters struggle with in his novels. Hutchinson's books may just be more about so thoroughly inhabiting the headspace of his main characters than anything else; yet, there is still ample room for a generally well-paced plot with a satisfying amount of twists and turns.
All of these things are hallmarks of a Hutchinson novel and they are present in abundance in A Complicated Love Story Set in Space. It could be argued, though, that having our main characters wake up on a spaceship (or at least spaceship-adjacent) in the first few pages may lean this book a little more into pure science fiction than Hutchinson's typical scifi-realism; however, it is solidly grounded in the humanity of our main character. I think that you could love this book if you love other works by Hutchinson, even if you don't think of yourself as a sci-fi reader.
Watching the relationship between Noa and DJ play out over the course of A Complicated Love Story Set in Space was both agonizing and glorious. Pleasure and pain are available in equal measure as we explore Noa's mental and emotional landscapes. Throughout my read, I cried both happy and sad tears, with a good dose of frustrated fist shaking and chest tightening on the side.
Oh, yeah. There's also some plot about three teens (Noa, DJ, and the kick-ass Jenny) waking up in space with no idea how they got there. We follow them as they grapple with the implications of the situation they find themselves in and try to figure out the why and the how and the who and if it even really matters. The plot has mystery. It has thrills. It even has Nutreesh! It was at least as enjoyable as getting to know our characters and it kept me engaged and intrigued from beginning to end.
A Complicated Love Story Set in Space is a Hutchinson novel through and through, which is to say that I loved it. My inner teenage queer nerd self really wishes I had had his books during my formative years. If you know someone like me or you are like me (and maybe even if you're not), give this book a read.
- Sexual abuse
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