Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak (2022, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars

Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak

4 stars

Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak is the second book in Charlie Jane Anders' Unstoppable YA sf trilogy. This is an incredibly solid second book of a trilogy. (This book is up for a 2023 Lodestar award as part of the Hugo awards.)

I think part of it is that Tina takes a backseat and Rachael and Elza get more of the spotlight. (Aside from the book covers sequentially being one, two, and then three headshots indicating which number of the book it is, this second book cover features Rachael and Elza vs the first book cover showing Tina, which I think is also an indication of the emphasis here.) This book has yet more uncomfortable feelings and processing and relationship renegotiation and grief and trauma.

I honestly enjoyed this book better than the first, because it's thematically very tight. It says it right on the tin, but dreams being bigger than heartbreak is woven through everything. There are so many dreams that are crushed (artist, pacifist, princess librarian(!), space diplomat) and everybody has to pick themselves up through heartbreak and keep on keepin' on. There's a large cast of characters and I love how much care and growth each of them get.

Other small points I loved: * princess librarian training had big Gail Carriger's Finishing School series vibes * a disasterous polyam-related conversation * "knowledge is pain" really hits home in the age of doomscrolling, along with "if you know the answer, it becomes your responsibility" feelings * Kez gets to be genderfluid and gets new pronouns every chapter