Cover Image: In the Quick

In the Quick

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Cover of the year? Cover of the year.
June Reed is 12 when she watches the world receive news of a failure in the fuel cells of the Inquiry, the longest crewed space mission ever launched from Earth. June spent her childhood observing the design of the cells by her beloved uncle & his students, a quiet witness to the process of how things work. After his death, she enters the academy for the National Space Program—too young, alone in the world, but a savant in her own right & driven by her uncle’s failure and the conviction that the Inquiry’s crew can still be saved.

IN THE QUICK is a tense and moody space novel that leans into the innate sexiness of scientific discovery and the anxiety that is the only sane response to plunging our sacks of flesh and bone into the vast indifferent vacuum of space.

Kate Hope Day takes the gorgeous sparseness of her debut and raises it by an order of magnitude here. I was intrigued in the first third or so, but struggling to find purchase in the story. Despite a close 1st-person narrative, June is an inscrutable character, the kind of impotent in her situation that stresses me the fuck out to read. Then I got into Part 2 & the stakes became clearer. From the halfway point on, I was loathe to put it down and break the spell.

IN THE QUICK sits in the sweet spot where scifi meets literary fiction, but otherwise probably benefits from little expectation (publisher’s synopsis included). It’s got an ethereal quality, & at the end I still had some unanswered questions. But I enjoyed the writing enough not to be too fussed by them. Consider it if you love minimalist world-building in speculative fiction, thinking about humans in space, and some light mystery.

This one vibed heavily for me along the lines of Do You Dream of Terra-Two, Contact, & Space Camp, but those could be chiefly personal resonances, so I’m curious what you thought if you’ve picked it up!
Thanks to @delreybooks @randomhouse and @netgalley for the advance copy
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Book review: 'In the Quick' an out-of-this-world, feminist astronaut tale
I loved Kate Hope Day’s début novel, “If, Then,” so I was eager to get my hands on her sophomore novel, a feminist astronaut tale called “In the Quick.”

The story begins with a plucky heroine named June, a child who is reeling from the death of her uncle. Her uncle, an engineer for the space program, has clearly passed his passion on to June. And when a ship known as the Inquiry gets lost in outer space with some of her uncle’s malfunctioning equipment on board, June becomes obsessed with a possible rescue mission. While the adults in June’s life are quick to dismiss the idea and June is soon occupied with other things—she attends a boarding school that teaches her how to live and work in outer space—June holds on to the idea of saving the astronauts, convinced they are still alive.

Early praise for this book has called it a “genre bending novel,” and rightfully so. “In the Quick” is part bildungsroman, part science fiction and part romance. I would say that each of these disparate parts were executed with different degrees of success.

I found that Day had particular skill when it came to writing the coming-of-age portion of the text. I was immediately invested in June’s flawed but humane character and rooting throughout her childhood was enough to carry this novel forward.

In all fairness, discussing science fiction is not my forte, but these elements were well handled, too. I could follow the descriptions of the technology, and Day’s world building is so intricate as to make all the leaps seem possible.

The romance made me a little uncomfortable, however. Despite the clear chemistry between the characters and Day’s obvious attempts to make readers comfortable with the relationship, this aspect of the plot was a little discomfiting for me.

The fast plot and compelling characters more than make up for any complaints. I loved following June in her adventures. Her persistence in the face of adversity and her resourcefulness in overcoming obstacles made me truly admire her. The ending is quite satisfying, too, and Day shows us that June’s persistence has its own rewards.

Ashley Riggleson is a freelance writer from Rappahannock County.

This Review was originally published in the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va
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Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this novel!


I knew pretty early on that this wasn't the book for me. One of my bookish pet peeves is books with no quotation marks, so this just didn't work for me at all, though I totally understand why someone would love this!
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So, I think I've learned that I love *space* things, but maybe only in a visual format. This book, IN THE QUICK, is ostensibly a *space* book, but perhaps because I'm not smart enough, I had no idea what was going on really, and therefore it had trouble holding my attention. It has a fantastic plot, reminded me a bit of THE MARTIAN, and has a fun alternate history vibe, however Day's writing is a bit too dense for my liking. Maybe it would have clicked with me more if I was a bit more science-y!
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June is an astronaut who believes that some astronauts believed lost on a prior space mission are still alive. She joins a new mission during which the crew faces problems from a design flaw. 

This book was science fiction lite, bogged down with mundane details. Way too much time was spent on June’s childhood and education. Finally, she gets into space, but then there is more mundane detail. Also don’t believe the blurb about an “electric attraction”.  June and James have one unnecessary sex scene at around the 78% point of the book. It was kind of embarrassing (if a tongue can part your legs, that is a very strong tongue). The story doesn’t really end. The book just stops. This book was a disappointment. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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Lack of quotations as a creative decision bothered me. I hate that. It makes the flow off and you have to figure out if someone is talking. Meh. I don't understand the purpose of it. And this book just did not do it for me. It didn't go anywhere. I liked precocious June, I thought was was intended for great things but it was all just very dull. I liked how detailed Day went into how astronauts adapt in space and what really happens to the body, she clearly did her research, but other than that, it was boring. I also wanted her to touch about menstruation in space because hello, men make it out to be a big deal and I really wanted some details about whether June got her period, whether it was staved off because of her body's changes in space, that kind of thing. Because Rachel, Theresa, Amelia, and June were all women in space. Even just a sentence about it! But yeah, I wasn't impressed. I wanted it to be more exciting. I'll give her other book a chance, a different kind of science fiction.
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An interesting book. I'm fascinated by space travel, and I love the Martian, so that's why I chose this book. I thought that there were some odd decisions about what to include and not include, though. For instance, the main character, June, in the middle of the book is all of the sudden on the Pink Planet, and we get no description of the launch and travel to get her there or the decision-making of the powers that be in the NSP to send her. Similarly, later in the book, her co-astronauts have made contact with the missing expedition, the driving problem that June seeks to solve the entire book. But it happens off screen and without her help, as she's pulling out an infected molar and planting seedlings on the pink planet.

The first third of the book, when June is a student at the space academy is by far the best part. Oddly, the magic of that section was abandoned when she went into space.

Also, since perhaps the publisher will see this review, please stop this trend of writing dialogue without quotation marks! Press authors not to do this, even if they insist! Especially for books that are marketed to a wide audience! This may seem like a picky thing, but it is vital to a reader's understanding, and therefore enjoyment of a book.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the eARC.
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A mix of Jane Eyre meets The Martian, In The Quick is a speculative reimagining of a literary classic. So many things about this story were incredible, but unfortunately the pacing was all over the place for me and a lot of the dialogue felt clunky and awkward. My expectations were so high that I may have let myself down with this one.
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June is a young, brilliant girl who leaves home to attend an astronaut training program.  Her uncle was an engineer who developed fuel cells that powered a groundbreaking space ship named Inquiry.  After six years of grueling training, June becomes an astronaut and is assigned to a post as an engineer on a space station.   June is obsessed with solving the mystery of what happened to Inquiry and to find out if the fuel cells her uncle invented were to blame for this ship’s disappearance.
I’ve always enjoyed sci-fi, but I haven’t read it as much as I did when I was younger.  But I enjoyed this dreamy, atmospheric novel that was both scientific in nature and yet, it was about a young woman who had the courage to brave space travel in order to solve a mystery of a missing space craft and its crew.  June is a memorable, courageous character.  I found the descriptions of what happens to the human body during space travel fascinating and the descriptions of June on the Pink Planet were riveting.  And the cover of this book is beautiful.
In The Quick is an interesting, unique read.  It’s a short book that I read in a day and I loved it because it took me back to a genre that I enjoyed so much.  I loved it, but I do recognize that this story may only appeal to certain readers.  I just saw the movie, The Martian, a few weekends ago and this book did remind me of that movie in parts.  If you want a different read out of your comfort zone, this is a great book to read!
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I've been procrastinating on this review because this book has been highly anticipated after I loved this author's first book, If, Then.

If I had realized this was intended to be Jane Eyre meets The Martian I may have gone in with more caution. It's just a taste thing - I overwhelmingly dislike retellings. They often force the author to make the characters do things that don't make sense for them in honor of the larger form, and that might explain some of the choices here. To me there were too many unbelievable things in what felt practically present day (but couldn't be) and a strange lack of intelligence and oversight by those I would expect to have it while the child who shouldn't be that smart seems to have no limits.

Such a good cover though.
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Thank you Random House and NetGalley for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

In The Quick
By: Kate Hope Day


This was a completely new genre for me, but I was absolutely in love with the cover so I wanted to give it a try. You rarely, if ever, see the color pink associated with astronauts. I don't feel that the publisher's synopsis accurately represents this book because I didn't feel the romance was a huge part of the plot, nor was the rescue mission. Overall, In The Quick kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end and the only downside was the inconclusive ending. 

This was a story of the main character, June starting as a 12-year old niece of a renowned aerospace engineer, then a school girl honing her engineering skills and being groomed for space travel, and ultimately a woman who travels to space. This was a new take on a female astronaut story that seemingly had very realistic - and sometimes scary - descriptions and scenes of space and space travel. 

The first part of June's story where she is in an elite space training school were my favorite parts. I would have liked to learn more about her classes, her classmates, and more building upon those stories. The second part of the book is about June as an adult astronaut who determines that a missing space crew may still be alive. At the time, she's in space alone with another astronaut - a male - and the relationship drama begins. 

I thought it was sad that after her uncle dies, her aunt just sends her off to the elite school and is very clear with June about how the uncle made their "situation" work and now that he's not here, it no longer works for the aunt. What child wouldn't be traumatized by first a death of a close relative, but then the rejection and outcasting from her family!? I don't think the author gave enough credit to how these traumatic events could have really impacted her and likely her growth and overall childhood experience. She needed therapy and help to process those events, not just a cold shoulder and a boot to school. June was a young, neurodiverse, still-developing teenager who didn't acutely understand all social situations or even her own weaknesses and self. I wish she'd had better tools and support, or that the author could have nodded that she'd needed tools and support and didn't have them.

I gave this book four stars because I enjoyed reading something different and out of my comfort zone (science fiction) and it was a book I enjoyed picking up every night before bed - not something I dreaded or avoided at all like some books I've read. I loved June's character and how she leveraged her many strengths and engineering skills throughout the book. I was constantly cheering for her and hoping the best for her.

Again, thank you to Random House and NetGalley for giving me complimentary access to this book.
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I think I must have seen the queer and LGBTQ tags on Goodreads and built this up as some great sapphic space story, but I was severely incorrect. This is a generally short book, but a slow story. The sci-fi aspect of it felt like it drifted in the background while June's life and memories were forefronted. Which I don't really mind, but it almost felt like every sci-fi element was crammed into the last 20% of the book and I couldn't really make sense of what was happening or what I was supposed to take away from it. I didn't like James and June's relationship at all, and the queer rep was basically two women looking at each other for a couple of pages in the background. I think I just had completely different expectations of what this book was going to be like and I wasn't very happy with what it actually ended up being. Still, the sections with June's adolescent life were really lovely, and I'm glad I got to read them.
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Author Kate Hope Day returns with her sophomore release, IN THE QUICK, a brilliantly imagined novel about a female astronaut and the mission that consumes her.

At 12 years old, June is an inquisitive but moody child. She lives with her aunt and uncle, the latter of whom provides her with the emotional and intellectual support she craves. A celebrated and beloved rocket scientist, Peter Reed encourages her curiosities, whether that means answering countless questions about how and why things work, or accepting her donations of household items she has taken apart to learn more about their insides. But even more important, Peter includes June on his own research studies, allowing her to see highly classified and groundbreaking materials on the production of fuel cells that will power explorers to the farthest edges of the solar system. When he dies, June’s obsession with physics and mechanics intensifies, and her focus on space sharpens. June’s aunt Regina, never a close companion, decides that she can no longer care for June and ships her off to begin astronaut training at the National Space Program in the school named for her uncle.

June is younger than her peers by two years, but easily equal to them in intellect. Unfortunately for June, she struggles with phrasing her ideas and approaching her classmates with them, a fact that, combined with her age and connection to Peter Reed, makes her an outsider. But the school is drawn together when news that the Inquiry, the revolutionary spacecraft powered by Peter’s last project, has disappeared. The astronauts on board were trained in the Peter Reed School for Space Preparation, and their disappearance draws into sharp relief the dangers to which the students are exposing themselves, should their training succeed. Desperate to preserve her uncle’s legacy and unravel the mystery at the heart of the Inquiry’s failure, June becomes obsessed with listening to satellite streams from where it last pinged --- and she hears a rhythmic tapping too obvious to ignore.

Years later, June is embarking on her own space mission, led by two of her uncle’s former students, both of whom worked closely with him on fuel cells and were in the running to join the fated crew of the Inquiry. Although everyone else at the National Space Program has stopped talking about it, June’s interest in the mysterious spaceship is reignited when she hears the same tapping sound on her own ship. When she tracks down the source of it, the urine filtration system, she realizes that she alone has proof that the crew is still alive. But how? And where?

After a tragic accident on her ship, June joins the iconic Pink Planet space station, where she joins forces with another of Peter’s former students, James. James is a perfect match for June in both intelligence and stubborn moodiness, and their relationship morphs from enemies to intellectual partners to something far more passionate --- and volatile. As they experiment with fuel cells to try to figure out what went wrong on the Inquiry, the mystery deepens and the stakes of bringing the crew home --- if they are indeed alive --- grow sky-high.

When I read IF, THEN, Day quickly became an instant-buy author for me. I am not typically drawn to science fiction, but her books immerse you in the science and then bowl you over with the fiction, constantly emphasizing and challenging the limits of human abilities and emotions. IN THE QUICK is no exception. June is a standout protagonist --- one part child, one part adult --- and I suspect that readers will be quickly drawn to her intense but sorely-lacking-in-people-skills demeanor. Her brilliance, which might turn readers away, is perfectly foiled by her loneliness and feelings of being misunderstood, and Day takes careful steps to develop her character and push her forward.

But what really makes June --- and this gorgeous, haunting book --- shine are Day’s stunning descriptions of the mind and how creativity and innovation are fostered and championed by humans. There are so many instances in which June stumbles upon a groundbreaking technique or discovery simply by asking herself what a thing does or how it needs to adapt, and then standing back and looking at the big picture. Without ever weighing down the narrative with complex mathematical or scientific formulas or definitions, Day makes the science of space and exploration accessible, visceral and deliciously dramatic, an art form in and of itself.

The allure of the mystery here goes without saying. Who among us is not fascinated by ill-fated explorations of any kind? But rather than focus on (and overwrite) the doom and gloom of the situation, Day keeps the suspense simmering on every page, so quiet and sneaky that you just might miss it until you are reminded of the very high stakes of June’s mission. With echoes of JANE EYRE and THE YELLOW WALLPAPER, the mystery at the heart of the book succeeds elegantly against its more science-fiction background.

Deeply enthralling and fiercely feminist, IN THE QUICK is yet another success from Kate Hope Day. Perfect for readers of THE MARTIAN and THE NEED, this stunning exploration of the potential of humans and their inventions will challenge everything you thought you knew about good science fiction.
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Thanks to NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

In the Quick was a bit of a hot mess. While my overall feelings were very positive, I have a lot of critiques with the story. First and foremost, the description describes an astronaut who gets entangled in a love affair that complicates her job. That is in the story, but it consists of maybe the final ~1/4th of the book. It is much more than that, but what exactly it was is part of why it's a mess. I can’t say exactly what the point was. 

It starts as a coming of age story. It was very effective at getting me interested in the story and our main character, but as it progresses, the direction of the plot isn't quite clear. The world that we're in is fascinating. The way the authors ties science and engineering into the narrative is engrossing and pretty realistic, but still accessible. However, the story at large was a bit confusing. This weird pink planet that is at the center of the story (and the cover) confused me; I did not understand how it fit into the world building. The greater conflict over the over the arc of the story is never clear to me.  While I recognize there was some resolution at the end, I didn't quite understand how we got there or what the point was. 

The problem is, I'm so conflicted with my feelings. I still enjoyed the process of reading it. I enjoyed the our main character and while the world was confusing it also felt immersive.  I’m able to overlook some of the big flaws of the story, and I may just reread the book to see if I can make sense of the bits that didn’t come together. Luckily, I think it would still be an enjoyable reread regardless.

Would I recommend this book? That is a hard to say because I feel like my enjoyment is so niche to my own particular interest. The promo compares this to Station Eleven and the Martian. I think the latter works, but the former is a bit of a stretch. Hopefully that will give you some idea of if this is something you would enjoy.
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Enjoyable read and it was refreshing to have such a strong female protagonist. Enough twists and turns to keep me reading. Only reason I didn't give this title 5 stars was the ending was not as satisfying as I had hoped, but then I personally am a fan of wrapping things up at the finish. 

Looking forward to reading more from this author.
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This book never quite lived up to the synopsis on the back of the book for me. While it’s true, it never reads as exciting or urgent as the description. 

Our main character, June starts out as a 12 year old girl, mourning her astronaut uncle’s death and mesmerized by the latest space mission that has lost all communication. The crew is believed to be dead and it’s blamed on the faulty fuel cells that her uncle invented. She knows in her gut they are still alive and makes proving this her underlying goal as she grows up. 

My favorite part of the book was probably the first third. June gets early admittance to an astronaut boarding school. YES. Think Space Camp meets private school, so basically the best book setting ever. 

After the school section finishes, it jumps ahead to her on her first space mission. I figured things were really about to go down, but it never really did. No matter how much the book would describe something or actions taken in the space station, they never made any sense to me. Plus, they never seemed to report back to anyone back at Earth. I’m like, don’t y’all have a NASA or something? 

Another thing that made it hard was that there are no quotation marks. That’s usually not a deal breaker for me, but there were several times I had to reread conversations to figure out who was who or even what was dialogue or narrative.

It’s a super unique premise with a stunning cover, but the plot never wowed me like I hoped it would.
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4.5 stars

When someone asks me what my favorite genres are, I usually don’t include science fiction -- but lately, each time I sit down to read a science fiction book, I always enjoy it more than I think I’m going, and this one is no exception.

Sometime in the future of our planet, June is an absolutely brilliant young girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut like her uncle, whom she lives with after the death of her parents. After her uncle’s untimely death, her aunt sends June away to the astronaut training program at the boarding school named for her uncle, where she is the youngest student by far. While she’s there, struggling to make friends, the spacecraft, Inquiry, disappears, possibly because of problems with the fuel cells that her uncle invented but hadn’t quite perfected before he died.

Six years later, June is an astronaut in her own right, but she is still haunted by the missing crew of the Inquiry, and she’s convinced that they’re still alive. Even when no one else believes her, she fights to figure out how to fix her uncle’s fuel cells and bring them home.

I loved how the author of this book places the reader right into June’s head. Everything she thinks, you think. Everything she feels, you feel -- her loss when her uncle dies, her awkwardness with her new classmates at school, her intellectual superiority to those around her, her frustration when no one listens to her because they see her as a little kid, even when she can see the problems in ways no one else can.

I also really liked the writing style. Others may find the lack of quotation marks confusing -- I know it’s a pet peeve of several readers -- but I felt like I was more in tune with June’s feelings because of the immersive nature of so much of the dialogue. Yes, it takes a few beats to get used to it, but once you get into it, for the most part I stopped noticing that the quotations were missing.

The time jump between June at school and June as an astronaut was a bit abrupt, and it was a bit confusing to figure out how much time had passed and to really see and accept June's character as an adult instead of a child, but I think it was smart of the author to not bog down the reader with all the in-between. She wrote about the important pieces and left out the rest. I also didn’t love June’s romance later in the book. Yes, it humanized her a bit, but it did seem out of place for her character with her singular focus all the rest of the way through the book.

Overall, this was a book that I looked forward to reading every evening, and I highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for my honest review. It has not influenced my opinion.
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The first line of the Goodreads synopsis for this book mentions a "fiery love affair" so I waited, and waited, and waited for this love affair to occur. Finally at about the 3/4 mark I got a glimpse of the brief love affair. So I'm going to say this, if you thought this would be a space romance it's not. Instead this book shows the romance of being in love with space, science and preserving a legacy.

It's a really great story and I did enjoy reading it. It's a quick read too at only 272 pages. If you're a fan of The Martian by Andy Weir you'll definitely like this story and will already be familiar with a lot of the terms and space jargon.

Thanks to NetGalley & Random for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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In In The Quick by Kate Hope Day, we meet the book’s main character, June, at 12 years old. She is a prodigy living with her aunt and uncle. Her uncle is a high-ranking aerospace engineer working for the National Space Program. June is allowed into the NSP training academy. When June is 14, a crew that has traveled into space has lost all communication and are presumed to be dead. No team is ever sent to rescue them. We meet June again several years later when she has her first voyage into space. The remainder of the novel covers this journey to the Pink Planet. 

I really wanted to like this one, but the plot fell short. It reads quickly with short chapters, but I kept losing interest, so this took me a little while to finish. Much of the middle part is very slow with little action. It does give me a good idea of the tedium that must be present when in space and how inhospitable space and other plants/moons are to human life. Some parts are incredibly atmospheric. I loved the descriptions of the Pink Planet. The reader has a great sense of what daily life is like and how hard basic survival can be in such a remote setting, when machines and parts break and have to be fixed. While on the Pink Planet, she meets James, who she knew as a child at the training program. He is highly intelligent, brooding, and arrogant. They begin a romance about 3/4 into the book. The plotting was a bit slow in the middle but speeds up a bit for the last 1/4. More is discovered about the crew that was lost in space several years before, but many questions remain unanswered. 

Thank you Random House and NetGalley for providing this ARC.
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A brilliant young girl’s obsession with space becomes a fascinating coming of age story. Part romance, suspense and science, June’s obsession with a lost ship and her becomes ours. I would love to read more of June’s adventures.
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