We’re delighted to exclusively reveal the cover for Charlie Jane Anders’ YA debut, Victories Greater Than Death, as well as an excerpt from the novel!
Victories Greater Than Death follows 16-year-old Tina Mains, who is dreading the start of another school year, when something bizarre happens. A mysterious woman shows up and gives her a strange necklace that Tina can’t remove — and soon after, Tina starts having weird hallucinations about being in space. With her already cruddy life getting worse she is sent off to live with her father.
Fed up with being the new girl and the not-so-nice aliens on the hunt for her she seizes the chance to be someone different and journeys into space, leaving behind her very ordinary life. Her journey marks the return of one of the greatest heroes of the Royal Fleet…
Due to be released next spring, we may have a while to wait for Victories Greater Than Death but not to worry, we have an excerpt of the novel to tide you over until then…
I have a ball of starlight inside me. A globe, containing a billion bright pinpricks. It’s always been there, since I was a baby—but lately I’ve been chewing up the inside of my own mouth waiting for it to burst out of me. Sometimes I feel all these little suns whirling, like they’re getting ready to emerge from the hollow of my collarbone.
My whole life has been leading up to this, and I can’t stand the waiting.
I’m dangling by my waist from the side of the highway bridge. All the blood rushes to my head as a sixteen-wheeler truck rushes past, so close that I can feel the air disturbance and smell the fumes. The bridge quivers, and so does my heart. I feel like I’m going to pass out.
“Anything?” asks Rachael Townsend, who’s holding my belt in her strong grip.
“Nothing,” I gasp.
“Maybe you’re not scared enough,” Rachael says.
“I’m definitely scared enough. This . . . isn’t working.”
Rachael helps me pull myself upward, back behind the rusted old rail-ing. I collapse on the hot cement walkway, next to a graffiti tag with a picture of a snarling puma.
“Okay.” Rachael smiles, sitting cross-legged on the walkway with her eyes looking wide and extra green in the midday sun. She’s dressed like a fourth-grader, as usual, in corduroy overalls and a long-sleeved stripy shirt. “So it’s not reacting to fear. Or adrenaline.”
“And we know it’s not triggered by anger,” I say, “or it would have ac- tivated when Lauren Bose put dirt in Zuleikha Marshall’s new shoes. For sure.”
“Is Lauren Bose still harassing Zuleikha Marshall? And the school is doing nothing?” Rachael shakes her head. “This is why I’m being home- schooled.”
“Yeah. And yeah, the administration is both-sidesing the hell out of it. Makes me want to scream.”
“Okay.” Rachael reaches into her backpack and pulls out a folder. “So I’ve personally seen your rescue beacon light up on three separate occasions, and you’ve told me about four other times.” She shows me a chart, with beautiful handwriting and amazing doodles showing different versions of me with a bright blue-tinged glow coming from my sternum. Because Rachael is the greatest artist of all time.
Each cartoon version of me is labeled with things like:
- Tina about to go to junior prom with Rob Langford
- Tina right after cops broke up our flashmob outside the slumlord offices
- Tina finds out she flunked trig midterm
“I got a D on that trig test,” I protest. “I did not flunk!”
“So I don’t see a huge pattern,” Rachael says. “I mean, it’s supposed to turn on when you’re old enough for the aliens to come get you, right?”
“They’re taking their sweet time.” I drag myself to my feet. “My mom keeps saying it might not happen until I turn eighteen, or even twenty-one. She just doesn’t want me to leave. As if it would be better for me to just stay trapped here forever.”
Rachael stands up too, and we walk back toward her rust-colored old Dodge hatchback. She’s being quiet again, which . . . a lot of being friends with Rachael is learning to interpret her many flavors of silence.
Like, there’s the “I’m mad at you and you won’t find out why for a week” silence. Or the “I’m figuring something out in my own head” silence. The most common is the “I need to be alone” silence, because Rachael has ma- jor hermit tendencies. But this silence is none of those, I’m pretty sure.
We drive for a while, without even any music. I’m one-quarter wonder- ing what’s up with Rachael, but three-quarters obsessing about my rescue beacon and why it won’t just spill all the stars already.
At last, when we’re stopped at an intersection near the upscale mall and the tech campus, Rachael glances my way and says, “I wish I could go too. When the aliens come to collect you. I wish I could come along.”
I just stare at her. I don’t even know what to say.
“I know, I know.” Rachael raises her hands from the steering wheel. “It would be ridiculous, and I would be useless up there in space, and there would be creatures trying to kill us, and it’s your destiny, not mine. But still. I wish.”
I want to tell Rachael that she’ll have a way better life down here on Earth. She’ll go to art school, find a new boyfriend to replace that loser Sven, publish tons of comics, and win awards. She’ll have adventures that don’t involve things like an alien murder team trying to kill her. She has plenty of reasons to stay.
Unlike me. I don’t have any real friends at high school, since Rachael dropped out. And the only thing I have to look forward to here on Earth is more people talking down to me. More bullies and creepers at school. More feeling like a bottomless pit, crammed with garbage emotions.
When Rachael drops me at my house, I just say, “I wish you could come too.”
“Yeah.” She smiles and hands me the folder. “Here. You should have this. Maybe it’ll help.”
She drives away. While I stare at a painstakingly annotated chart full of cartoon Tinas—each one bursting with pure dazzling light.
Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders is due for release on 13 April 2021 priced at £8.99 (Paperback & eBook) from Titan Books.