Book Review: The Stranded by Sarah Daniels

Forty years after a war and deadly epidemic, the Arcadia—a former cruise ship turned refugee camp—is still refused a landing in the Federated States. This floating colony of wealthy passengers, military, underprivileged, and gangs have been living together, carving out their version of society within the increasingly cramped confines of the Arcadia, just waiting until the day they are deemed “safe” to go ashore. But even though it’s been decades since the virus was last detected, they remain onboard with increasingly limited resources.  


The Stranded follows the alternating points of view of several young characters including a medic in training, a commander in the military-esque heads of the Arcadia, and a rebel. As a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Ester (the medic) finds herself drawn into the wave of a rising rebellion. The result is a dystopian thriller with high stakes and a fight against oppressors at every step. 


I was very excited with the premise of The Stranded—I mean, why have I never read a dystopian book with a cruise ship as the new colony? It’s also timely given recent worldwide topics (i.e.- a pandemic, escalating tensions, and a wall). Unfortunately, I wasn’t as drawn into this story as I’d hoped I would be. I didn’t really feel a connection with any of the characters, so it was difficult to be swept away in their stories. It was a slow build, and I didn’t feel like my emotions were engaged by the writing. Sarah Daniels did do a tremendous job in setting the scene onboard the Arcadia. She describes this world with such clarity that it’s not hard to imagine you’re standing on the upper level or down in the lower decks with the characters.  


One of the things I did like was the captain’s updates throughout the book that let the reader (and passengers!) know just how long it’s been since they boarded the Arcadia (inthousands of days!). For old-school Trekkies, it’s reminiscent of “Captain’s Log, Star date…”. 


I’m bummed that I didn’t enjoy this book more, but there is likely a lot for others to enjoy. It just wasn’t for me. 


The Stranded comes out January 3, 2023. 


*I received a copy of The Stranded from Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

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