Wren Harper lives on an overcrowded Earth on the brink of apocalypse. There are just too many people. The answer lies 600 light-years away on Kepler; a planet more than double the size of Earth. For decades humans have been fighting another race for its control. Earth’s armies are depleted. So now 15-year-old cadets are sent to fight, trained along the way in vast combat ships. But why has Wren been chosen? She’s small and geeky and not a fighter. Will she survive Kepler? Or will the training kill her first?

A debut novella-length episode in a series full of cliffhanger endings.

My review:
First, let me say I don’t read Young Adult (YA) fiction. Typically. I found myself with a copy of The Spiral Arm in my hand (so to speak, on my kindle) and decided to read it, more out of obligation than desire.

Now let me say the book contains aspects of YA that normally steers me away from that genre; young protagonists, bullying, understanding of situations, coming into their emotional own, etc… What I didn’t expect was to enjoy the story.

In the Spiral Arm, Earth is exploding in population and has sought other planets for colonization. One planet, Kepler, has proven as a good planet but has others (some aliens that Earth has been fighting) interested in it. That is the backdrop to the story.

The story focuses on Wren, an awkward, self-conscious, wallflower type of girl.  She is recruited–against her will–for the military and doesn’t understand why.

It takes earthen vessels four years to reach the foreign planet, and during that time recruits are trained with military skills to continue the battle. So Wren is thrust in this situation. As she flounders, she meets other recruits, some friends, many enemies.

Peter does a good job of laying Wren’s thoughts and actions out like an open book (pardon the pun). The narrative is first-person, so you get an in-depth understanding of Wren and why she thinks what she thinks and does what she does.

It contains mild cursing and small amounts of violence (kids fighting) with minimal blood.

This short story has a grand feel to it, like the beginning of a great space opera. It will be interesting to see how awkward Wren fits into the battle for Kepler.