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We Are Omega

By

Not for me 😔

Great ideas and evocative writing but suffers from an overdose of tropes and a love for violence

We Are Omega is an alien-invasion story built on an almost-too-familiar template, in which Molly McManus and Wells Marsden, two Australian teenagers, find themselves fighting the supposedly-benevolent Xenocrustaceans. The book takes cues from Stargate SG-1, Tomorrow When The War Began and other young-adult science fiction novels.


The good: Molly and Wells are fantastic, fun characters. Molly is an angry goth kid who deliberately fails a test that would give her a chance to work at the Institute because she hates the Xenocrustaceans that much. She swears like a sailor, and doesn't put up with anybody's crap - a fun archetype that's deconstructed when a dare for her to climb a fence goes horribly wrong. Wells is her polar opposite, an anxiety-ridden hacker with a shady past who just wants to figure out what the right thing to do is - and have the courage to go through with it. Their interactions with each other and with the side characters (Mackenzie, Remy, Jesse and others) are the most fun part of this book, especially when one or both of them are panicked or stressed.


However, We Are Omega suffers from, above else, a problem of timing: while there's a time and a place for a story about alien refugees turning out to be evil and working with the 'Men in Black' elite, 2019 isn't quite it. It's hard to read about Molly's racist assumptions being proved right, almost more so when the "dominant" group of aliens that the refugees were running from are cast as the Good Guys. Additionally, the book doesn't seem to quite know its audience. Its cast is made up of teenagers and it's labelled as Young Adult, but it takes a little too much joy in enacting terrible violence on its characters as well as killing more characters than I can really feel comfortable with. (There's nothing wrong, inherently, with books that don't keep their cast alive, but again - time, place and audience.) Violence is fine in books, but especially for a Young Adult novel, it's a bit much.


Finally, We Are Omega doesn't seem to be conscious of the conversations happening in publishing. While the writing is good, it's ultimately a retread of too-familiar stories. Both Molly and Wells are white, and a character implied to be a person of colour is killed for dramatic/emotional reasons about halfway through the book. Molly's devastating migraines that show up in the first chapter vanished and aren't acknowledged as more than a plot device.


In short, this book has a lot of potential and it's a fun, tense read - but it doesn't seem to quite know who its readers are, and feels like it should have come out in 1999, not twenty years later.

Reviewed by

I enjoy reading new books and fiction, and have a fresh, unique perspective as a Canadian queer disabled person.

Molly

About the author

Justin Woolley has been writing stories since he could first scrawl unreadable handwriting with a crayon. Today he is the author of the novels A Town Called Dust, A City Called Smoke and A World of Ash. Justin lives in Hobart, Australia. His handwriting has not improved. view profile

Published on December 10, 2018

Published by

90000 words

Genre: Young Adult

Reviewed by