Goodreads: Zita the Spacegirl
Series: Zita the Spacegirl #1
When Zita accidentally sends her best friend Joseph to space and a cult of aliens preparing for the end times kidnaps him, she’ll have to band together with an unlikely assortment of characters to save him before an asteroid obliterates them all.
Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, exciting romp through space featuring all the weird aliens (many of them reminiscent of Miyazaki’s work) a science-fiction fan could want. From the first page when Zita discovers a mysterious button and just has to press it, readers know they are in for a story as full of wonder as it is full of danger. For Zita’s love of fun and her curiosity cannot be quenched even by the startling experience of landing on a strange planet with no way home, even as the inhabitants prepare to die by asteroid and a cult of aliens kidnaps her best friend. Her open-eyed delight at everything around her keeps the story light even through some of its darker elements. The unabashed wonder at the universe makes this story stand out as unique, even though some of its elements recall to mind other works.
The characters are the major source of charm in this book, from the irrepressible protagonist to kindhearted conman who befriends her to the battle robot whose sense of loyalty caused his makers to reject him. The ragtag team who plans to rescue Zita’s friend Joseph forms rather quickly and that seems odd, considering most of them have no real reason to be invested in Joseph’s fate. However, seeing them work together is not only delightful but oftentimes humorous and it was difficult not to fall in love with them all almost immediately.
Unfortunately, I found myself wondering rather early on where all the females live on this planet. I appreciate having Zita as a bold and noble female protagonist and I see what the author did there by having her rescue the guy. However, besides Zita and two chickens who appear briefly for a scene, I do not recall any females in the book. Of course, some of the background aliens could very well be female–we do not know what the genders of aliens look like. However, since the robots and aliens introduced were all male (that means, of Zita’s team of six, she is the only female), I got the sense that, well, everyone here is male. Even the side characters who appear for one or two scenes, long enough to have names or be referred to with a pronoun, are male. So do aliens reproduce differently on this planet or are they in an unacknowledged population crisis? Not featuring females in a story without some sort of explanation (like it’s historical fiction and it’s set in a male-dominated environment), aside from disappointing little girls, just does not make sense.
Still, I enjoyed Zita’s adventure immensely and plan to follow her exploits in the next two books. It’s always refreshing to see a protagonist who immediately places others before herself. Good people do exist! I just hope that the forthcoming stories showcase some more awesome females.