Cover Image: Holdout

Holdout

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Member Reviews

When a routine supply drop goes awry, the three person crew on board the ISS is forced to evacuate. Belka “Walli” Beckwith, the sole American on board, would prefer not to. Suddenly alone onboard and breaking countless laws (in at least 25 countries) Walli becomes an overnight internet sensation. Why did she stay on board?  Was she unfit this whole time?  We quickly come to learn that she is fighting for one of the most precious resources on Earth - the Amazon rainforest - and also someone she cares deeply for. 

The novel is split between two point of views, with Sonia Bravo-Beckwith, Walli’s niece, being introduced as a young doctor on the ground in the Amazon. She is working with an NGO and becomes caught in the midst of the Consolidation, an effort brought forth by the Brazilian government to displace native tribes and steal the land for the sake of capitslism. From space, Walli gets a birds eye view of the raging fires that the government is using to drive the natives from their homes and into horrible camps that dirty and full of disease. People are dying in these fires and these camps and it’s up to Walli and her newfound fame to show the world what the government so desperately wants to hide. 

Jeffrey Kluger does a great job of explaining the more technical parts of this book in a way that is easy to understand. It never feels clunky. The pacing was a bit slow at times and it did take me awhile to get into the story, but towards the middle I was hooked. I loved the strong female characters and was surprised by how easy it was to connect with Sonia.  The subject matter was very relevant to current world issues and it really did make me stop and reflect on what is happening in the world today. 

Thank you so much to Dutton & NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book.
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DNF. Another white author who can't describe POC accurately and uses stereotypes. Hard pass. I genuinely don't know how shit like this makes it through editing.
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While the premise of this book was enticing, the slow pace of the story and the shifting perspectives, sadly, did not engage me. Others may find it more appealing than I, however.
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This was a mix of mystery, contemporary, and a touch of science fiction. There is a good amount of science in it, but not nearly as much as Project Hail Mary and not nearly enough to steer non-science lovers away from this. The one thing that shocked me the most was how political it was. A little too much for my liking, especially for having it advertised as a science fiction novel. Not a bad read, but not something I would pick up again.
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Suspense in Space 

Happy #PubDay to this knockout sci-fi book that seems more real than, you know…me burgers. 
I’ve read a lot of sci-fi recently and Holdout by Jeffrey Kluger is stellar.

Graduated with high honors from the Naval Academy, an accomplished fighter jet pilot, and with 300 days spent in space, Walli Beckwith, our main protagonist, is the model astronaut. Everyone is surprised though, when a routine supply ship crashes into the International Space Station and although she is ordered to evacuate with her Russian crew mates, she refuses to leave the station. Her reason…to save a significant part of our world, the Amazon Rainforest, and also save the life of someone she loves. 
Ruining her career, undergoing scrutiny from the world, and possibly facing a life sentence in prison from multiple countries, it’s a race against time to seek justice and help change the course of Earth’s future. 

This book felt so true to real life, it was shocking. The author, Jeffrey Kluger who currently works for Time magazine has written multiple nonfiction space books, including books on Apollo 8 and Apollo 13 and the details he included in this fiction book are incredible. 

It reads like a sci-fi suspense with an emphasis on environmental conservation that also includes high octane political intrigue. 
Holdout has a slow-paced beginning, but quickly picks up the pace with a fiery finish that I’ll be thinking about for a long time. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy for review.
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“Walli” Belka Beckwith, an American astronaut, is doing a tour on the international space station with two Russian colleagues. When something unspeakable occurs, Walli refuses to leave the space station. Because of the internet age, the world is informed and tracking Wall’s every move. Some are outraged by and some are in awe and support for Walli’s protest in order to bring light to disasters happening on earth. 

The blurb on this book is kind of vague so I don’t want to give away too much information. I expected this to be a story fully taking place in space but it actually ended up being half in space and half on earth split between two points of view; one an astronaut on a space station and one a doctor working in the Amazon. 
It kind of played out like a movie with perfect cliffhangers when switching between the space storyline and the earth storyline. There was a good amount of space elements as expected and an unexpected social justice aspect to the book as well involving the mistreatment of the people and land that makes up the Amazon Rainforest.
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*3.5 stars rounded up. If you are a fan of Andy Weir's books, I think you will enjoy this space adventure too--a first fiction novel by journalist and space expert, Jeffrey Kluger.

Three astronauts, two Russians and one American woman scientist named Walli Beckwith, are on an International Space Station, awaiting the next supply shipment. The docking goes awry and the three are injured, the station damaged. The crew is ordered to return to earth but Walli stays behind, saying simply, "I prefer not to."

Everyone wants to know why and eventually Walli makes a statement for all the world to hear--it's a protest over something terrible that is happening back on earth. Soon she is a social media star with a huge following and people organizing protests to support her cause.

Meanwhile, Walli's niece Sonia, who has just finished four years at Baylor College of Medicine, is working for Health on Wings and volunteering in the midst of the problem area, sending dire reports to her aunt in space.

Don't be afraid--there is lots of science and technical stuff but it doesn't get in the way of a good story. Kluger has created two very strong, intelligent, stubborn characters in these two women. They face one disaster after another, often forced to make quick decisions to save themselves and others. The rest of the cast of characters are well developed as well, but those two woman make the book worth reading. The topic is a timely one: the earth and its inhabitants being endangered by giant greed. There is lots of exciting, edge-of-your seat action so I dare to predict a movie will be made someday. Good script material!

I received an arc of this thriller from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity.
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What happens when a rogue astronaut decides to hijack the International Space Station? That's the story that Jeffrey Kluger gives us in Holdout.

"Astronaut Walli Beckwith is a crew member aboard the ISS. When an accident forces an evacuation she stays behind, holding the ISS captive. She feels strongly about her reasons but few others on the ground feel the same way. On her own several emergencies force her to the rescue rocket. She only hopes it's not too late for the tribes in the Amazon but she has little choice anymore."

I was a little worried about the writing in the early part of the book. I am not a fan of semi-colons and multiple commas in a sentence. Too many thoughts in one sentence tend to slow the reading. It's okay to write another sentence. 
Kluger has a lot of expertise and experience with the Space Program. That is evident is his descriptions of the different parts of the ISS and the Soyuz rockets. But it never overwhelms the story.
Kluger finds his stride about 20% in and the story gets better and more fast-paced. There are several perspectives the reader gets to see. Pretty easy to see how Kluger feels about this issue.
The bigger picture is, what would a President do if this really happened?  Who has jurisdiction over the ISS? And what's really going on up there?

A good thought-provoking story from Kluger.
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Wow, What. A. Ride!  I read the synopsis and saw the words astronaut and space station, and that the author was Jeffrey Kluger.  I was all in.  I loved his Lost Moon: The Perilous Journey of Apollo 13 (the movie Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks was based on the book) and read it several times.  

So when I saw that Kluger was trying his hand at fiction, I knew I had to read it.  I don’t typically read non-fiction so if I loved a non-fiction so much that it’s one of my favorite space books, well, I was sure his fiction would be good.  

And yes. Yes it was! Walli and her two Russian crewmates on the space station experience a collision with a supply ship and have to evacuate the space station.  But Walli makes the decision to stay behind as the sole astronaut and hijacks the space station.  

Meanwhile, back on earth in the Amazon, a young American doctor is caught up in fires destroying the jungle and killing or displacing the tribes.  

For the first half of the book, I’ll be honest and wasn’t sure it was my cup of tea.  It was very political and… a bit boring.  I was in because of the space bits and there was not much there.  

But oh my… Halfway through, Holdout kicked it into high gear and the action never stopped, both on the space station and in the Amazon.  I was on the edge of my seat and stayed up way past my bedtime to flip pages as fast as I could.  Probably not the book to read when I was trying to wind down and go to sleep. Holdout had my heart racing that entire 2nd half of the book.  

I was pretty emotional at the end and ended up LOVING this story.  Jeffrey Kluger is now one of my new favorite fiction writers!!  If you enjoy Andy Weir’s books, I think you’ll enjoy this story.

*Thank you so much to Dutton Books and NetGalley for the advance copy!*
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When an accident causes an evacuation at the International Space Station, Lieutenant Commander Walli Beckwith seizes the opportunity and refuses to leave, taking control of the station. In Brazil, Sonia Bravo-Beckwith (Walli's neice) is fresh out of medical school and working with a medical NGO. Both women are experiencing the Brazilian president's drive to push native tribes from their homelands and seize and destroy the rainforest in the name of capitalism and corporations--Walli, by watching the fires move across the Amazon basin and Sonia, who is trying to protect people from the fallout of the Consolidation. Walli uses her unique position as the only human in space to press for an international response to the human rights tragedies Sonia shares with her. 

I have to admit that Holdout wasn't what I expected--when the term "evil forces" is used right away in the description, it makes me think there's something fantastical at hand. There's not--it's pure, realistic sci-fi--but that didn't make me enjoy the book any less. Holdout weaves together technology, space, politics, family, and justice to tell a comprehensive story about two women and their impact on the world. 

My biggest issue was related to pacing, especially for the sections that focused on Walli. It seemed like something was going wrong every five minutes, which took me out of the action a few times to just thing "AGAIN? Does anything on this station ever work correctly?" Sure, these incidents taught us a lot about space exploration, but it got to the point where it was all seeming improbable. the pacing led me to have a weird relationship with this book. When I was into it, I couldn't put it down. Then I'd hit a lull and set it down for multiple days, that drive to see what happened forgotten.

Still, Holdout was an often-gripping read about two women trying to bring about real change through their very different circumstances. I learned a lot, which is a sign of good science fiction, and I'd definitely recommend this to anyone interested in space or social justice movements.
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Jeffrey Kluger's HOLDOUT did a phenomenal job keeping suspenseful pacing through serious topics such as international politics, healthcare, and issues of responsibility and rank. This novel was an unexpected favorite of the summer, providing well-crafted characters to root for and against and shedding light on relevant issues through the sheen of science fiction. While the writing could be overly technical at times, I found this book informative and entertaining.
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A great parallel story of a woman and her niece, both trying to change the world in the best way that they know how. Timely and captivating, a great cli-fi story.
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Powerfully poignant.

How do you stand up for something you believe in when the world exists in chaos and power is only held by those with deep pockets? Do you turn a blind eye and say, 'there's nothing I can do' or do you risk it all and say, 'I'll do whatever it takes'?

For Belka "Walli" Beckwith it's the risk because sometimes doing what is morally right doesn't line up with what is right by the rule book. She goes with her gut and that leads her fighting for those who have no voice .... and she does it from space.

The politics are heavy handed here, I learned a lot about the process and chain of commands within a space mission. There are times when this bogs down the story and it drags a bit, however, I feel like it was necessary. Leaving out the politics would have left out the very point of what is written between the lines here. Power.

One thing this expresses incredibly well is just how deep and powerful social media is; rooted into the very center fibers of our society; people now orbit around it.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for reaching out to me to review and to Netgalley.
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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy to read and review. 


When someone reached out to me from the publisher to ask if I wanted a chance to read this I was really excited about it because I dont read scifi that much to be honest. I was hoping that it would be a good book to get me into the genre but I dont think this book was it for me. I've been at the book for a few days now and I just cant get into for a a couple of reasons like it's way too political for me especially since I hate politics and the second is for some reason all characters that get introduced or even a name that gets mentioned get a too long backstory that always made the story feel like it was dragging on without any real movement of the plot. Which would cause me to get distracted by anything very quickly. I couldn't relate to any of the of the characters and the dialogue between characters just seem stilted and detached. As bad as I dont want to I'm probably gonna DNF this.
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When Penguin Random House reached out to me directly to read this one, I immediately leaped at the chance. Strong female protagonist? Check. A genre I'm getting more accustomed to, much to the delight of my husband? Check. An intriguing premise and cover? Check. The opening of this book drew me in immediately, and I really liked the character of Walli, but it was the character of Sonia that stole my heart. Jeffrey Kluger paints a vivid scene that sprang forth immediately in my mind. The book seemed to draw inspiration from recent events, but the author made some creative decisions that I found difficult to believe. For example, there were several names of people/places/companies that were *almost the same, but not quite* (which he probably did for legal reasons, I just would have preferred a drastic name difference). This sci-fi/environmental novel had a super strong start, but then went in a direction I'm not sure I was ready for. If the reader is ready for environmental/humanitarian issues and wants to see space involved in solving them, this might be a book for them.

2.5/5 Stars (Rounded to 3 for Rating System)
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So I kind of have mixed feelings about this book. I kind of got the impression the story was going to be kind of Sci-Fi Thriller. Even though it does have some thrilling elements I wouldn't actually consider this on the thriller side.

I do have to say one thing I love about this story is the strong female protagonist. I hate that she had to do what she had to in order to get people to actually listen, but it was a good way to get herself heard. It just sucks that even in reality (along with books) that people have to do something extreme in order to get help or to find a way to help others. 

The downside of Holdout (for me) is that story is pretty political. Politics is something I try to avoid when it comes to books because we have to deal with a lot of it in real life. People are jerks about the whole thing which is why I sometimes try to avoid it on social media as well. It's just something I don't particularly care about and would rather not read about either. 

Despite me not really caring for the political aspect of the story, Holdout is pretty well written and well thought out. On top of that, it keeps you guessing on whether or not the government will cave and how much trouble the main character is going to be in.
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This book is full of space, politics and a strong female lead. I really enjoyed the development of the main character, I love reading books that represent strong women. I really enjoyed the plot of this book but at times it did seem to drag.
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**thank you to Penguin Publishing for my ARC!**

3.5/5 🌟
HOLDOUT by Jeffrey Kluger was a surprisingly captivating read for me! I mean, when described as a cinematic science fiction book about a female astronaut helping save the world?? Yeah, count me in.

I really admired Walli, the main character, for what she represents; a badass woman, smart as hell, and passionate to the point of stubbornness. I also loved Sonia (and of course Olí), the other main perspective in this book and how the storylines soon link into one main narrative. One where both women, headstrong and passionate, work together (one from earth and one from space) to save both the environment and a people group from complete genocide.

Typically when I see a man writing female POV novels, I worry about overgeneralizations, stereotyping, and male-gaze type issues to arise. I was pleasantly surprised at the absence of these factors. Additionally, Kluger is clearly very knowledgeable about space programs and it shows in this novel. You can tell he has done extensive research on this topic

My biggest complaint with this novel is the lack of sci-fi elements. Yes, it's an astronaut, and yes it's in space, but that's pretty much all the sci-fi you get here. And maybe I misread the synopsis, but my expectation going into this book was much more ~astronaut saving the world from insidious aliens~ or something like that. I wished for more sci-fi like elements, exploration into the space side of things, and generally just more fleshed out time with the characters.

But overall, it was a book that I genuinely enjoyed and read quickly! Check this book out when it releases on August 3rd!
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Holdout started out with a bang. Walli is an American astronaut onboard the International Space Station with two Russian astronauts. An accident occurs that forces the astronauts to head back to Earth, but Walli refuses. At first we don’t know why Walli wants to stay in space. I don’t want to spoil that here, because I enjoyed the not knowing and trying to figure out what she was doing. 

We also follow Sonia who is a doctor working in the Amazon with the indigenous tribes. Once these two storylines meet up, we get to the meat of what the story is actually about. 

I enjoyed the set up more than the actual story. Once we got into all of the political stuff, I lost a bit of interest. A little more space and a little less politics could have made this even better, but overall it was still an enjoyable read.
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Each time the International Space Station passes over the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, astronaut and Naval Officer Belka “Walli” Beckwith looks out the window and sees her conscience and her honor going up in flames. The fires, so large they are visible from space, are part of the Brazilian government’s plan to oust indigenous people from their homes by literally smoking them out. On the ground, Dr. “Sonia Peanut” cares for the sick alongside other doctors international aid organizations while the forest burns down around them and the state-run media tells the world everything is just fine. 

Walli feels powerless watching from the space station, until an emergency forces the crew to evacuate and Walli decides to stay behind and take a stand. She won’t leave until the American people see what is happening, and the Congress moves to intervene in the Amazon. But staying behind isn’t easy.

A series of crises unfold on the station that threaten Walli’s civil disobedience and her life, and officials on the ground make it clear that she won’t have a career to come home to, even if her scheme succeeds. All the while, Sonia Peanut’s patients continue to be forced into camps along the Brazilian border and she takes her own actions to build support from around the world for Walli’s cause.

It all comes down to a vote from a hands-off Congress as the crises in space and the forest escalate in an intense ride to the end of the story. I was glued to my Kindle for the last third of the book.

This compelling story reads like a really good feature article in a magazine or newspaper, with the additional characterization and interpretation that fiction allows. Author Jeffery Kluger expertly balances exposition, action, backstory, and character interiority. I found the facts and explanations interesting and most of the time they didn’t take me out of the story, but instead made me want to keep reading. It’s fiction that reads like good nonfiction, with plausible twists, turns, and outcomes.

I also enjoyed Walli’s blend of military mindset and compassion. She makes very intentional choices and puts the greater good in front of her own needs. Her two crew members, Vasily and Lebedev, are also interesting character studies, supported by the rest of the cast in the space administrations and the White House. The crew of doctors in the Amazon also held my interest. I cared about each character and was astonished by their realities and the difficult choices they had to make.

I’ll definitely be recommending this story to anyone who has an interest in space, including all my friends who grew up near Kennedy Space Center.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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