Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “An Unkindness of Ghosts” as Want to Read:
An Unkindness of Ghosts
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

An Unkindness of Ghosts

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  16,000 ratings  ·  2,491 reviews
Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She's used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she'd be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.

Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the
Kindle Edition, 340 pages
Published September 18th 2017 by Akashic Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about An Unkindness of Ghosts, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kay Yes. You are definitely the only one. This book is, about among other things, enslavement. Slavery isn't pretty. It's brutal and disgusting. Solomon's…moreYes. You are definitely the only one. This book is, about among other things, enslavement. Slavery isn't pretty. It's brutal and disgusting. Solomon's descriptions are very on point in detailing how vicious forced labour can be, and is therefore a necessary part of the story's narrative. So again, yes. You are the only one who feels this way. (less)
Julia Has this twelve year old read Octavia Butler's Kindred or the Lilith's Brood series? Has this child read Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad or Be…moreHas this twelve year old read Octavia Butler's Kindred or the Lilith's Brood series? Has this child read Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad or Ben Winter's Underground Airlines? I believe there are twelve year olds who could read this, but as [another] Julia suggests, what if you [or another adult] read it with her/ him?(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,000 ratings  ·  2,491 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of An Unkindness of Ghosts
Elle (ellexamines)
“I am a boy and a girl and a witch all wrapped into one very strange, flimsy, indecisive body. Do you think my body couldn't decide what it wanted to be?”

4 1/2 stars. This was so good. Living on the lower levels of a worldship from which there is no escape, a group of characters live constantly struggling to survive, as Aster attempts to figure out coded messages from her mother… and perhaps a route off the ship.

I think to me, this book is about collective trauma within a community. While As
This one is rather hard to rate for one good reason: It is good, and I did not like it. I would reasonably give this 3.5 stars, but let me explain:

The good.

Really quite wonderful main characters, all full of interesting mixtures. Astra seems to have autism, is rather more gay than not, but more closely binary. She's also strong and pretty brilliant and she also has a tendency to say exactly what she means and do exactly as she wants, regardless of whether it's safe for her to do so. This is a mi
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this! I love how the book incorporated intersectional black/gender identities and paralleled the antebellum South to create a richer story. It was a unique take on the scifi & dystopian genre that opens wider paths for inclusive storytelling. I'm not just giving it diversity points - I truly believe the author's inclusion of autism and queer identities was purposeful in painting a deeper story that reflects our society. Aster feels real and I loved being in her headspace because ...more
Back in 2016 (which seems so long ago), Barrack Obama was in the last year of his Presidency and I was still sane. Anyways, that was the year my cup runneth over with slave narratives. I read three that year: Kindred, Homegoing and The Underground Railroad. All three were excellent, but they are slave narratives. Painful, infuriating and heartbreaking to read. Provocative of angry emotions. I came to loathe slave narratives for their incongruence to humanity, their unfairness, their lack of comp ...more
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Shiver shiver, tremble tremble. I am not nervous about writing this review at all. I do not have any of my typical book was too good to write a review for it jumbles. Nope. Feeling at my most confident here. *escapes*
Can we just agree to make this book as famous as possible and leave it at that? No? I'll have to elaborate?.. Oh.. Alright…

So... We've got a spaceship that has escaped a dying Earth centuries ago. Naturally, it's failing. Of course, due to various constrictions, combine
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread- #RWLChallenge: A book with an intersex main character.

Now that this is out I'm looking at everyone like..."y'all gon' read this or nah?"

Pre-publication review below the cut:

I wanted to give myself to some to fully process “An Unkindness of Ghosts” before writing my review. There is a lot to unpack. Let’s start with how good I think this book is. It has multiple layers that one can spend close to an eternity unpacking. A number of themes jumped out at me while reading this novel. They in
David Katzman
Somewhat like a mashup between Battlestar Galactica, The Handmaid's Tale, and Roots. The thematic premise of this story seems to be that even in the future (about 300 years) in a situation where humanity is traveling between stars, the current unjust class system will not only be reproduced but will be exacerbated. We won’t have some flatline merit-based, deprivation free world. Solomon has created the anti-Star Trek.

The storyline finds, like in Galactica, a colony ship traveling from Earth to s
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
Maybe more 3.5/5? I’m unsure right now.

There’s a lot I loved here but I personally was underwhelmed by the plot and by the novel’s resolution. Aster is an incredible character, as is Theo, and I loved reading about them even as I read so many horrifying passages about them struggling with being marginalized and brutalized by the people aboard their ship. This has incredible scope and brilliant ideas, it’s just that many of those ideas get lost along the way or fall short of the final execution.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“I am a boy and a girl and a witch all wrapped into one very strange, flimsy, indecisive body. Do you think my body couldn't decide what it wanted to be?”

Please, please, please! Tell me there will be a sequel to this book!!! I loved it! I think this is my favourite sci-fi of 2018. Rivers Solomon is a fantastic writer and storyteller, her characters so real and deep. It only took about 10 pages for me to be submerged in this story, and there I stayed for the entirety of the book.

Allison Hurd
This book was interesting. I'm not quite sure how to categorize it. Set on a gen ship with the social constructs of the Antebellum South, this book is less about spacefaring, heroes, or mystery, and more about the psychological impact of subjugation, trauma, and class over those generations, and what it means to be a person. It was a bit...jumpy as a read, though. The personal parts were easily 4 or even 5 stars. The structural parts were 2 or 3.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list
Devastating. Beautiful. A story of a generation ship travelling away from earth for centuries, with each deck containing a different strata of people and privileges. The upper decks are home to the Sovereign and his brutal guards, and the various privileged. The mindset here is sickeningly patriarchal, rigid, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. The lower deck is inhabited by the slaves, who grow the food and keep things running, and who suffer constantly at the Sovereign's and his guards' whims; a ...more
Katie/Doing Dewey
Summary: Great characters and world building, but I didn't feel totally engaged in the story and I didn't love the plot.

"Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South....the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human. When the autopsy of Matilda's sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother's suic
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Popsugar Challenge 2020 - A book by a trans or non binary author

'Nothing is more sad than a person who believes in something that's so clearly not true'

Literally the whole world is talking about Rivers Solomon so it was time to jump on board this ship and see the fuss.

This is a scifi novel which explores sexuality, gender indentity and slavery in space. The world building in this is fab, I felt like I was on this spaceship, could feel the heat in the fields, everything was so vivid which wasn
3.75ish stars.

This book is strange and far from exciting, but it’s also kind of beautiful. Solomon manages to make this historical, contemporary, and futuristic all at once. The writing is incredibly assured for a debut author.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is a powerful imagination at work here, as well as a deeply felt sorrow and a hard-earned rage. And there is a wonderfully vivid sense of characterization, bringing to life (especially in its depiction of the “low deckers” but less so with the villains) a cast of characters who are invariably brilliantly smart and delightfully oddly mannered, all of whom are courageously struggling to maintain their dignity in the face of a host of horrors perpetrated against them.

What’s missing a bit as t
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely FIVE beautiful and gorgeous STARS!

My dear fellow readers: I’ve read quite a few books this year (as have we all), many of which I truly loved. But I have to say that this one is beyond question, my most favorite book of 2017.

It is one of those rare finds that pulls you in—body and soul—after a mere page or two. Aster was magnificent as the protagonist. Such an odd character, but one I couldn’t help but love.

The story takes place on a giant spaceship, one that’s been traveling for ab
Bogi Takács
Update: My review is finally online! It is long!

This was what I had up here previously:

This was awesome! Review coming soon IY"H, I still need to write it. (It was supposed to go up at the end of January, so February will have two intersex book reviews. Sorry for the delay!)

If you think you might need content warnings, PLEASE wait for the warnings in the full-length review, because there will be a lot. This book has descriptions of torture etc.

Source of th
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
mina reads™️
Reread 2/5/2020: just as amazing as I remember it, I still feel slighted by this ending tho I wanted more 😔 this book makes me want to sob and scream uncontrollably it’s just so good and the passion I feel for it is truly unmatched.

2018 review: Oh my god this was absolutely incredible ❤️❤️
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of sci fi with a human touch
Shelves: space
this was completely incredible. i don't even know how to describe it, just phenomenal. it's an intricate analysis of classism + racism within a beautifully imagined sci fi world (though horribly harsh and cruel, not unlike our own world). this book is literally exactly what sci fi should be and i can't wait for the author's next 100 books!

in terms of representation, all the main characters are black and most of them are queer; the author is black and queer. most of the main characters are menta
May 06, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A haiku for An Unkindness of Ghosts:

Wow this was awful
I so tried to like this book
Sadly I could not.

Where to begin? I realize that everyone else seems to have loved this book, and I can't understand why. It does depict slavery and racism in graphic terms, and sometimes I think people confuse grittiness and horrible things happening with being a good story. Maybe that's the reason for all the 5-star reviews. On my part, I don't feel obligated to like it just because it contains slavery or social
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

This is some FABULOUS science fiction. If you want sci-fi with substance, look no further.

Solomon uses the setup of the HSS Matilda to examine collective trauma. We see through the main character Aster, as well as other characters, the implications big and small of the active oppression of people of color. I also really liked that Solomon really dives deep into the ways in which white supremacy and hyper-strict gender roles (particularly in regards to masculinity) go hand in hand.

I ador
May 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-authors, lgbtq
Wow, I still don't quite know how to talk about this one. First off, I was not expecting it to be so difficult to read due to graphic content, or so frequently bleak. The writing is very good and there are so many layers to the experience Rivers Solomon has crafted in An Unkindness of Ghosts.

This is a piece of science fiction that is deeply character driven, set on a spaceship that seems more like a city where there are stark divisions along lines of race, class, and gender. The wealthy and whi
Tori (InToriLex)
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

Actual Rating 4.5 Stars
Through the lens of Aster we are thrown into a harsh world where people have been used as slaves to help navigate the space ship Matilda, to the Promised land for over three hundred years. Aster is a compelling brilliant and queer character. She's on a mission to discover what happened to her mother and fight back against the cruelty of  the guards and leaders of Matilda. The low-deckers live on the poorest part of the ship, are da
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read a few books lately, of which this is one, that have made me reflect very seriously on how good my life has been and how undeserved that goodness is. It’s a cliché to say I’m grateful in a world where we post selfies captioned #blessed, where we shamelessly flaunt our good fortune like it’s something we earned, or worse, something owed to us. For a while I’ve wondered what to do with the knowledge that my life is privileged in so many ways, and while I still wrestle with that question ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 stars.

An Unkindness of Ghosts is a sci-fi novel set on a generation ship, Matilda, which is organized in way which is very similar to the antebellum South of the USA.

I have a problem with second halves, lately. An Unkindness of Ghosts is one of the many books I read recently in which the first half had so much potential to become something truly unforgettable and then... the book didn't do much with it. Not as much as I though it could have, anyway.

An Unkindness of Ghosts's worldbuilding is
Two and a half stars

This is a really good book. And I did not like it at all. Those things are not mutually exclusive.

This book is a slave narrative filled with all the horror that entails. It is also, primarily, a character study. Solomon does, I think, a good job at drawing a complex and rich portrait of a queer black woman who sits somewhere upon the autism scale, and who has a history of abuse and trauma. This is no small feat, and Solomon's writing is up to the task.

The problem, for me, was
I can't pretend objectivity with this and don't want to write a review bemoaning the seemingly unavoidable publication of Black trauma whenever Black people are included. May write a review for this after seeking and completing therapy. ...more
Executive Summary: This book is brutal and hard to read at times, but very well written and I ended up enjoying it far more than I expected to from the blurb alone.

Full Review
I hadn't heard of this book at all before it was chosen as the March pick for Sword & Laser. The blurb really didn't excite me, so I decided to borrow this from the library and ended up having my hold come in much earlier than I'd planned.

The first few chapters didn't really pull me in. Aster is an oppressed "lower deck
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Pet
  • Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)
  • Remote Control
  • Riot Baby
  • Ring Shout
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle, #1)
  • The City We Became (Great Cities #1)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1)
  • The Black God's Drums
  • Binti (Binti, #1)
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4)
  • A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)
  • Elatsoe
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • Home (Binti, #2)
  • When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle, #2)
  • The Space Between Worlds
  • Black Water Sister
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Rivers Solomon writes about life in the margins, where they are much at home. They live on a small isle off the coast of the Eurasian continent.

Articles featuring this book

  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
82 likes · 21 comments
“I am a boy and a girl and a witch all wrapped into one very strange, flimsy, indecisive body. Do you think my body couldn't decide what it wanted to be?” 39 likes
“Pretty was a strange thing to concern oneself over. Pretty was subjective and fallacious.” 26 likes
More quotes…