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Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation

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Perfect for fans of Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee, this thrilling, cinematic sci-fi novel follows Hana Hsu’s mission to save herself—and her friends—from a dangerous plot to control their minds.

Hana Hsu can’t wait to be meshed.

If she can beat out half her classmates at Start-Up, a tech school for the city’s most talented twelve-year-olds, she’ll be meshed to the multiweb through a neural implant like her mom and sister. But the competition is fierce, and when her passion for tinkering with bots gets her mixed up with dangerous junkyard rebels, she knows her future in the program is at risk.

Even scarier, she starts to notice that something’s not right at Start-Up—some of her friends are getting sick, and no matter what she does, her tech never seems to work right. With an ominous warning from her grandmother about being meshed, Hana begins to wonder if getting the implant early is really a good idea.

Desperate to figure out what’s going on, Hana and her friends find themselves spying on one of the most powerful corporations in the country—and the answers about the mystery at Start-Up could be closer to home than Hana’s willing to accept. Will she be able to save her friends—and herself— from a conspiracy that threatens everything she knows?

368 pages, Hardcover

First published June 21, 2022

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About the author

Sylvia Liu

5 books109 followers
Sylvia Liu grew up with books and daydreams in Caracas, Venezuela. Once an environmental attorney protecting the oceans, she now spins stories for children, inspired by high tech, ghost crabs, and strong girls. Sylvia lives in Virginia with her family and a very fluffy cat.

Visit her website at enjoyingplanetearth.com and follow her on Twitter (@artsylliu).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 88 reviews
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 2 books369 followers
December 18, 2021
If I had to describe Sylvia Liu's HANA HSU AND THE GHOST CRAB NATION in just one word, I'd be hard pressed to do it, because this book is so many beautiful, exciting, and original things. I absolutely gobbled it up, and young readers will do the same.

In 2053, twelve-year-old Hana Hsu can't wait to join her Start-Up class, where she will finally train to be meshed with the multiweb, the neural lace connecting human brains to all information, and to each other. Hana hopes with all her heart that, when she's meshed, she will finally feel connected to her mother and older sister again. But not all is as it seems. At Start-Up, some of Hana's classmates - including her new friend, Chuck - are getting sick, and Hana embarks on a quest to find out what's going on, a quest that leads her deep into an underground world of corporate conspiracies and resistance movements.

This book is so very, very smart. The near-future world is beautifully drawn, with plenty of threads tying Hana's world to our own, from the serious (we see the consequences of unchecked climate change and the cognitive overload of 'too much screen time' brought to vivid life) to the less significant (Ben & Jerry's still exists!). The mystery Hana needs to unravel is intricate and compelling, especially as she has to consider her own family's involvement in the corporate conspiracy. The high-tech action scenes are absolutely visceral, and will have kids turning pages compulsively, but the emotional heft of the story is never left behind. From the very first page, we feel Hana's grief at her father's death and her loneliness at being disconnected from her mother and sister. We also understand her confusion as both her Popo (her grandmother) and members of the resistance challenge her to think about what life might be like if it involved less tech and more connection to the natural world. Chinese philosophy and thought is woven into the narrative in such gorgeous ways, from the qigong Hana learns to use to calm her mind to the references to Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War.'

HANA HSU AND THE GHOST CRAB NATION is beautifully crafted, richly detailed, and lush with ideas. It will make kids think about the world they live in today, and the world they want to inhabit in thirty years. I can't wait to shout this one from the rooftops. My thanks to Razorbill/Penguin Kids for the eARC.
Profile Image for Shawn Peters.
Author 2 books57 followers
January 13, 2022
In the middle of the 21st century, Hana Hsu is an ingenious kid dealing with a lot -- the loss of her father, a grandmother who's mind is failing, feeling of disconnection from her mother and older sister -- all in a world where all adults have their brains "meshed" into a worldwide network run by five massive global corporations (thinly veiled call outs to real companies we all know and use.) She's convinced that by excelling at Start-Up, the academy for elite students before their enmeshed upon turning 13, will solve many of her issues. But as she makes friends, begins competing for class ranking, and spending her off time with a few people who live outside the social and technological constructs of the society she knows, it becomes clear a conspiracy is afoot. The questions is whether Hana and her friends have the courage to follow the leads and help the Ghost Crab Nation uncover what's really going on, or if her desires to fit in and excel will win out in a world where everyone has secrets.

This book feels like if The Matrix, Ender's Game and Ready Player One all got together and did a middle-grade mash up. There are constant twists and Sylvia Liu weaves her own culture effortlessly into the writing itself and the post-governmental world she creates. Young readers will be sucked in by the premise and earnest desire of the protagonist to connect more with her loved ones, and then they'll hold on for dear life as the back half of the book buffets them with wrinkles and curves that blur the lines between friends and foes.
Profile Image for Jennifer Guyor Jowett.
112 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2022
I love puzzling things out when I read and enjoy books that make connections to our own experiences. Sylvia Liu has created the perfect blend of intensity, intrigue, and ingenuity in this plot. The sci fi/dystopian blend allows readers to see what our world might yet become. This book was hard to put down and I definitely didn't want it to end!
Profile Image for USOM.
2,325 reviews194 followers
June 8, 2022
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation is an amazing middle grade release. It is full of almost non-stop action which has Hana unraveling the secrets behind her technology mishaps and the corporations around them. I loved Hana! This middle grade featuring a STEM heroine manages to cleverly question the technology around them. To realize that when we broadcast our entire lives we begin to curate our feeds, to open ourselves up to influence. As someone who's been thinking about exactly that, it feels almost chilling.

But Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation asks important and timely questions about the role of technology in our lives. This science fiction MG book brings to the surface what I love about SF. The questions that technology and power illicit. At the same time, Liu tells a story which is chock full of video game references and touches making it perfect for a middle grade audience. I love how Liu is able to bring these important discussions of ethical technology with fast paced action for MG readers.

full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
Profile Image for Kellye Crocker.
Author 1 book11 followers
April 19, 2022
Twelve-year-old Hana Hsu can’t wait until she’s finally old enough to get “meshed”—have her brain wirelessly connected to the multiweb. When her neural connection is activated next year, Hana will gain instant access to all known information and be able to communicate brain-to-brain with others who have been meshed. Best of all, Hana believes the procedure will allow her to re-connect with her mom and older sister, Lin—IRL.

Both have been distant and distracted in the year since Hana’s beloved dad died. Hana’s mom has been busy with her high-powered biotech job at I Ching, one of the world’s Big Five Corporations that essentially control society. Thirteen-year-old Lin just finished Start-Up, a competitive, one-year program that molds high achievers into the next generation of corporate leaders. After the excitement of Enmeshment Day, who can blame Lin for diving into the multiweb with her BFF?

Meanwhile, Popo—Hana’s loving maternal grandmother—is showing signs of dementia. This is no longer a problem for older adults who are meshed because their brains repair automatically. But Popo, who did her doctoral thesis on the effects of electromagnetic radiation on the meshed brain, felt the risks outweighed the benefits.

When Hana begins Start-Up, the program is undergoing several changes. Her enmeshment class will be the first to be fast-tracked but, in another twist, only half will succeed and become “meshed” early. For Hana, failure is unthinkable. Not only is she hungry for attention and approval from her mom and sister, she desperately wants to find a cure for dementia and help Popo. Those opportunities begin with Start-Up success, which provides its graduates with a lasting, artificial boost in intelligence, strength or sensory perception and entrance to the best jobs.

But Hana struggles in the program after her tech continues to mysteriously fail. When her new friends fall ill, she vows to discover why and help them. Although Hana regularly scavenges the junkyard for materials to make her small, wind-up automatons, her sleuthing takes her farther into the Bottoms than she’s ever gone. In the sprawling, congested neighborhood of tin-roofed shacks, kids still shoot hoops with actual hoops and balls and connect to the multiweb through untraceable, illicit-market implants. Hana finds friends there, including an old man who teaches her the ancient practice of Qigong.

As Hana discovers the mysterious Ghost Crab Nation, her investigation turns more dangerous, and she begins questioning everything—including what she’s always believed about her society and even her own family.

In her debut middle grade novel, Sylvia Liu has crafted a thrilling STEAM adventure in a not-so-distant future America. It’s 2053, 24 years after the Infotech War that Hana’s mother says took the life of her father (Popo’s husband and Hana and Lin’s grandfather), who was part of the AntiTech movement. After the war, national boundaries blurred and traditional governments lost power.

Hana and her family are Chinese-American, living in Old Virginia, but thanks to I Ching’s dominance, the world has embraced Chinese food and culture. (It’s a far cry from the 1990s, when classmates teased Popo for her homemade lunches.)

Readers will enjoy Liu’s skillful and clever worldbuilding. (Besides I Ching, the Top Five Corporations include Nile, Plex, Maskbook, and Pear.) People working from home send holograms to the office in their place. At school, virtual reality rules, lockers open with a wristband, and nurse bots staff the infirmary. Ads are ubiquitous: Scrolling across glass buildings and drifting billboards and even inside brains. Glance at the mayor, for example, and you can learn what hair product and bronzer he used.

Global warming continues to be a threat. (Only the super-rich can afford to waste water with a bath.) Liu sprinkles digital news briefs through the story, providing a fascinating and chilling look at this new world. Some things remain the same, though: “dead-tree books” (although an anomaly), a grandmother’s delicious, homemade dumplings, a sister taking time to braid her little sis’ hair, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Liu’s entertaining novel isn’t a call to abandon technology, but it will encourage readers to think about the role tech plays in their lives—in all our lives—and is sure to spark lively discussions. Hana is a smart and likeable protagonist, surrounded by a diverse cast of friends and family who challenge and support her. The Start-Up mystery drives the plot, but this novel isn’t all flying cars (as cool as that is). As Hana faces her grief and loneliness, she slowly learns how to connect deeply with others—IRL.
Profile Image for Dusty.
288 reviews4 followers
January 24, 2022

Sylvia Liu’s Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation was engaging and epic. I wasn’t intending to read it in a single day, but once I started I simply could not stop. There are so many elements of the book to rave about, but I’ll limit my review to some of my favorites (especially those that aren’t a spoiler risk). To give you a broad overview of what the book is about, Ms. Liu tackles the idea of “What would happen if science progressed to the point where we could link the human brain to the internet?” It’s one hundred percent a science fiction novel, but like many sci-fi books, there is an aspect where we aren’t that far away from the technology featured becoming today’s reality.

The Sun Tzu references in the book were awesome. Hana and the other Start-Up students learn a lot of things like war tactics while they are in their classes, and Sun Tzu was by far the most commonly quoted “teacher” in the book. There were even some quotes from The Art of War that I had forgotten. The author also embeds some science lessons into the book, with references to physics, biology, chemistry, neurology, and computer science among other things. Despite the use of a lot of very big words (i.e. Ophiocordyceps, the zombie ant fungus) I never had an issue understanding things. Of course, as someone who is older than the intended audience, I can’t really speak to how well it will go for a true middle school reader but for the most part, I think they will be ok.

One of the most striking quotes in the book to me was: “Hana had never lived in a world where Chinese culture, wasn’t popular, and she couldn’t imagine what it would be like to feel like it wasn’t cool.” You can easily switch the word “Chinese” out for “Western”, and you would have the culture in the present. To me, it was a subtle reminder to check my privilege. As a young adult white woman in the United States, I’ve never lived in a world where the culture I most closely identify with wasn’t popular. I have to remind myself that others don’t have the same experience. I’m pleased that this book was so thought-provoking and provided that opportunity.

Overall, Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation is a fantastic upcoming middle-grade sci-fi release. I would happily recommend it to young readers I know, and those who want a book that is both educational and entertaining. If you like books like Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl or Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen’s Last Gate of the Emperor, then you should definitely enjoy this book. I’m eager to read what Sylvia Liu releases in the future after finishing Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation! At the time of writing this review, it is unclear to me whether this book is intended to be standalone or part of a series but I would be satisfied either way.

Thank you to the author, the publisher Razorbill, and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary review copy of the book. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation immensely. Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed the book. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way.
Author 1 book45 followers
June 12, 2022
It is 2053 and the majority of the world has been enmeshed—connected to one another through their brains to the multiweb. Twelve-year-old Hana Hsu is envious of her sister Lin as it is nearly her turn to mesh, which means Hana will be the only one in her family left on the outside. Though Hana is a part of the elite Start-Up class, she nonetheless feels separated from her mother and sister, especially in the wake of her Ba’s recent death. Each day introduces Hana to new people who challenge her understanding of her world, making her question everything she initially blindly accepted as reality. As she gets deeper into her training, truths are revealed that require Hana to choose sides in a dangerous battle she never saw coming.

This fast-paced middle grade novel contains elements of several stories that have been incorporated into an entertaining new package. Hana lives in a future that is reliant upon technology, where people and machines work in tandem and frequently intertwine. The effects of global warming are omnipresent, from mentions of a perpetually gray sky to coastal cities buried under feet of water. Within all of this is a corrupt government that claims to have the people’s best interests at heart, but with a little bit of digging, lies and deception become obvious. Bouncing between a physical reality and a game-centered virtual reality, Hana and her companions interact with one another in novel and compelling ways as they get closer to uncovering the secrets they seek.

Fans of high-octane stories like The Hunger Games will fall easily into this similarly dystopian tale. Readers with an interest in massive MMORPG and VR gaming will likewise appreciate the easy incorporation of avatars and gaming tropes that occur in this story. Much like a middle grade interpretation of Ready Player One, this novel emphasizes the fact that the virtual world is just as important as the physical one as complex truths come to light. Realistic predictions of a not-too-distant future make the setting accessible to young readers, especially as Chinese culture and widespread technology are embedded within the plot. Middle grade readers are sure to connect with Hana on an emotional level, as well, as she manages complicated feelings within the context of an exciting and memorable story. This is an excellent addition to library collections for middle grade readers.
Profile Image for Alysa.
Author 2 books87 followers
February 7, 2022
HANA HSU AND THE GHOST CRAB NATION is a fast-paced, original and riveting adventure novel that beautifully weaves a story of family love and loss with big issues such as the climate crisis, the dangers of corporate control over our everyday lives, and social revolution.

The year is 2053 and 12 yo Hana can't wait to follow in her older sister's footsteps at Start-Up Academy where she will be trained in advance of being meshed with the multi-web. Once her brain is laced into the web, Hana hopes she'll be able to get more of her mother's time and attention, after all as a busy executive with the I-Ching Corp, Hana's mother works nearly around the clock.

But not everything is as it seems at Start-up, and when some of Hana's classmates begin getting sick, she suspects that there's something very amiss both at the academy and the corporation that her mother has devoted her career to. Hana's suspicions lead her on a quest to get to the truth, but like all good quests, the truths she finds aren't necessarily the ones she went looking for.

Liu's near future is frightening, and yet familiar, and sends a powerful message about the reality we could be facing if we don't get a handle on both the climate crisis and our use of technology.

This is an intricately crafted, exciting adventure novel with an incredibly heartfelt core. The video game at the center of the story is beautifully well-realized and drawn, and the relationships between the characters so very real and true to life. This book will appeal not only to sci-fi fans, and gamers, but to readers looking for a great adventure involving social/environmental themes. I highly recommend this smart, exciting, and beautiful adventure!

Thank you to Razorbill, Penguin Kids for the eARC.
Profile Image for Sara Kapadia.
11 reviews2 followers
January 20, 2022
I just love the world building in this amazing book!!! It is such a thoughtful and smart take on the future. I love the characters and the premise. It really makes you think about the world we live in today and what the future holds and the choices we make. I was able to immerse in the scenes because it was so great! I would definitely recommend this book!
Profile Image for Lata.
3,499 reviews187 followers
July 8, 2022
So much fun! That’s my assessment of this story and the main character Hana Hsu’s adventures set in a future world of massive corporations, ubiquitous internet access directly through the brain, called enmeshing, and inequality.

Twelve-year old Hana feels left behind. Her mother, an executive in one of the big corps, I Ching, has been working nonstop since the sudden death of her husband a year earlier. Hana’s older sister Lin will soon be enmeshed (all kids are at the age of thirteen), and is totally wrapped up in her friendships and other activities. Hana is isolated at home, and feels that only her grandmother/Popo has time for her. Hana loves spending time with Popo, who seems to be gradually losing her memories.

At Lin’s enmeshing ceremony, it’s announced that all 12-year olds will be attending an accelerated Startup enmeshing program and those who succeed will be enmeshed earlier than the traditional age of 13.

Before beginning Startup, Hana encounters a teen in a rundown area of town who implies that there are things to worry about about Startup. And that not everyone is treated the same as the kids “lucky” enough (i.e., wealthy) to attend Startup.

Almost from the get-go, Hana notices things are a bit weird with Startup, with some kids getting sick, and none of Hana’s efforts to implement aspects of the tech are working for her. She also discovers there is an underground movement called Ghost Crab Nation that is suspicious of the enmeshing technology.

I liked the pacing in this story, as well as how much emphasis was placed on Hana’s emotional growth and resilience as she copes with one new problem as another. She badly wants to be enmeshed 1) so she can reconnect with her preoccupied mother and sister, and 2) so she can begin developing a way to stop Popo’s memory loss.

The focus on friendship and Hana’s loneliness and warmth were perfect. Enmeshing sounds super suspect, never mind the conspiracy Hana and her friends expose that has corporations doing terrible things in the name of doing good in the world.

I expected a number of the story beats before they occurred, but I still really enjoyed this book, which, even though it dealt with some heavy topics, was still centred on friendship.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Penguin Young Readers Group for this ARC in exchange for my review.
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books62 followers
May 12, 2022
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of HANA HSU AND THE GHOST CRAB NATION by Sylvia Liu (Release Date: June 21/22).

Middle-grade science fiction lovers are in for a real treat with this adventurous story set in 2053. It’s got cool technology, advanced science, and futuristic issues while also dealing with the timeless themes of family, loyalty, and a desire to do what’s right.

Hana desperately wants to join the selective Start-Up class. There she will train to become enmeshed, which is like turning her brain into a smartphone, so she has access to the online world at all times. Her sister was enmeshed last year, and she feels left out of the lives of Lin and her mother. Hana discovers that this year’s class will be a summer intensive, so the enmeshing will happen earlier than expected. But the program is not everything Hana expected it to be. Her glitchy technology and her friends developing a strange illness prompt Hana to become a spy to learn more about the company behind the enmeshing technology (at which her mother works). She discovers a hidden world of politics, corporate conspiracy, and rebel factions with many secrets to hide.

I loved the author’s world-building, and thinking about what the world might look like thirty years from now is something I think young readers will enjoy. It’s a fast-moving story that hooked me from beginning to end, and there are many great topics to discuss in a classroom. I think we need more science fiction stories for middle-grade readers, so I highly recommend checking this one out.
Profile Image for Whitney Sun.
65 reviews1 follower
July 11, 2022
this book has one thing in common with neil gaiman's coraline, and it is that this book is an adventure for children and a horrific nightmare for adults (as described by gaiman himself, though frankly i found coraline terrifying as a kid too).

but! my point stands. this was an adventure and a half and also absolutely horrifying: hana hsu and the ghost crab nation features a high technology, cyberpunk future where corporatocracy is the norm. people's brains are hardwired to the multiweb from the age of thirteen. driving on roads, shopping in malls, and simple mundane pleasures like music stores are considered relics of the past that only the poor residents of the bottoms enjoy. it's terrifying because it's possible, and increasingly feels like the inevitable future we're hurtling towards. i think i would have enjoyed this more if it had been YA or adult - there was so much about the world i wanted to know more about and chew on, and often times caught myself thinking, "wait, wtf, that sounds bonkers, go back to that," but it works amazing as a cautionary tale wrapped up in a middle grade adventure.

tl;dr, the vibe is do androids dream of electric sheep? for mg readers.
Profile Image for Sam Subity.
Author 1 book45 followers
July 23, 2022
I'm always bemoaning the lack of sci-fi in middle grade, so it was a real treat to read one as smart and inventive as this one. Living in a tech infused United States three decades in the future, where polar ice caps have melted flooding coastal cities and five corporations control the planet, Hana Hsu is excited to be in the next class of kids to become enmeshed -- or have her brain connected to the multiweb where everyone and everything she could ever want to know is literally just a thought away. But soon she stumbles across a conspiracy and has to decide if it's worth losing everything she loves, and maybe even her life, to unravel the plans and save her fellow students. Kids will want to dive in and get lost in the ultra cool futuristic world created by the author!
20 reviews1 follower
July 25, 2022
Sylvia Liu has created a believable and engrossing near future world in her sci-fi debut. I loved Hana from the beginning and was rooting for her the whole way. I love how this book takes our world and twists it just a little bit to create a future that you could almost imagine happening. The book is a fun ride but it also touches on important issues including the climate crisis and digital addiction. The story is fast pace and the plot twists threw me for a loop. Don't miss this one.
Profile Image for Renée LaTulippe.
Author 14 books26 followers
August 3, 2022
I am not a reader of sci-fi, but I picked this one up and was blown away by the sheer craft of it, by all the twists and turns and surprises, by the incredible world-building, and by the beautifully drawn and believable characters, each distinct and fully rounded with their own intertwining needs and objectives. Hana herself is immensely relatable as an ingenious 12-year-old struggling with loss and questioning her future. As an author, reading HANA HSU AND THE GHOST CRAB NATION was like taking a master class in how to write a novel. As a reader, I was completely absorbed by the premise, the intrigue, the mystery, and the SCIENCE -- this is a really smart book. Set in 2053, HANA HSU makes many references to our current world and the issues we face, from climate change to the ever-growing power of mega-corporations and our reliance on technology. A fast-paced, thrilling cautionary tale that's hard to put down.
Profile Image for Beth Mendelsohn.
179 reviews
June 30, 2022
Thank you to Razorbill and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The year is 2053 and twelve-year-old Hana Hsu cannot wait to get meshed to the multiweb like her mother and older sister. Hana is attending an accelerated session of Start-Up so she can be meshed by the end of summer instead of waiting until she turns thirteen. Popo, Hana’s grandmother, who is not meshed, has dementia. If she was, the tech would repair her brain. Hana hopes by getting meshed early, she will get a good internship that will help her find a treatment for Popo. Hana likes to build automatons, something she used to do with her late father, and frequents the junkyard to find materials. It is there that she meets Ink, who leaves a stolen e-scroll for her to find. This leads to Hana meeting Wayman, a leader of the Ghost Crab Nation, who tells Hana all is not as it seems at Start-Up and to keep an eye out for anything unusual. Soon Hana notices that some of her classmates are getting sick, her tech boosts don’t work, and she wonders if it’s really worth getting meshed after all. Hana finds out that there is a conspiracy between Start-Up and the tech companies that will affect the way the Big 5 corporations (I Ching, Nile, Plex, Maskbook, and Pear) that run the world conduct their business.

This book takes a different perspective than most sci-fi novels. It is also very timely and I do think the target audience will get the Big Tech references. It is a very enjoyable and quick read, with great “what will happen next” aspect. It is meant to be a stand-alone book but hopefully Liu will pen another. I would highly recommend this book for grades 5 and up.

#HanaHsuAndTheGhostCrabNation #NetGalley
30 reviews2 followers
July 5, 2022
Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation is an exciting, fast-paced sci-fi book that both children and adults who are fans of sci-fi and fantasy will enjoy. It has elements of so many sci-fi and fantasy greats, such as Divergent, Ready Player One, Feed, and the Hunger Games, among others. What makes this a story in a class all on its own is how the author mixes these ideas up, sprinkles a bit of mystery, suspense, and comedy throughout, and adds large doses of heart as you dive into the lives of the main characters and their struggles not only to adapt to a world where everyone is meshed into the multiweb through brain implants but also to deal with their own personal struggles and their family lives. I would highly recommend this book and give it 5/5 stars.
13 reviews
July 7, 2022
This was an exciting trip! The worldbuilding was vivid and in-depth, while still easy to follow. The characters meshed (pun intended) well together, while the plot was intriguing and kept me guessing. Overall a fun sci-fi adventure that gives food for thought on how we interact with technology and each other. Would love to see this adapted into a movie!
Profile Image for Richard Knight.
Author 6 books55 followers
June 30, 2022
Fast-paced, invigorating, and fun, Sylvia Liu's latest novel is sort of like The Matrix, but for kids! The story centers around a new cyber world that everybody is constantly connected to, and the ramifications that that may have. Our protagonist, Hana Hsu, is an excellent lead into this fascinating world, and when I was finished with the story, I was already hoping for a sequel. I need more of the Ghost Crab Nation, posthaste! I loved this book!
Profile Image for Sathya22.
9 reviews
June 21, 2022
HANA HSU AND THE GHOST CRAB NATION is the clever middle grade sci-fi that will have you thinking about the role technology plays in our lives. I enjoyed diving into this futuristic world (2053!) where being ‘enmeshed’ (getting connected to one another via brains to a multi-web) is a thing, and our heroine, Hana Hsu, is on the brink of going through the process with the hopes it will also put her on the same page as her mom and sister—both of whom she feels worlds apart from. I loved Hana’s drive and smarts as she uncovers one secret after the other! There were plenty of twists and turns that kept the pages turning! I adored the diverse cast of characters and the friendships Hana developed throughout. I recommend this to sci-fi readers looking for adventure!
Profile Image for Sean Miller.
3 reviews
January 13, 2022
I loved this book! It has everything you'd want in a middle grade sci-fi. Future tech. Online world. Automaton birds. And a main character you love to root for.

Hana's family relationships (sister, mother, grandmother) were key to the story and incredibly relatable. Her family and what they meant to her impacted her decisions and motivations in a way that made you really empathize with her, which portrayed a rich three-dimensional character. In addition, the constant choices Hana had to make regarding her friends gave her great agency and you really felt for her with every choice, good or bad.

What I loved most about this book is how real it felt despite taking place in the near future. It takes the pressing technological issues of today and stretches them into a fascinating new imagined world that kept me completely enthralled. Touching on issues of scarcity, environment, privacy, and scientific morality - this "future" world was so on point to what we deal with today that it's even hard to call it "fiction". Kids will absolutely relate to this, especially the creative videogame-style online world the characters inhabit - which was also one of my favorite aspects of the book.

Hana Hsu is a welcome splash of life to the middle grade sci-fi book scene! I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Ben Gartner.
Author 4 books387 followers
February 14, 2022
Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation is perfect for any middle grade reader looking for an action-packed science fiction story. Within the first ten percent of the book and solid world-building, I had slipped into the very familiar, yet different Earth of the future as portrayed by author Sylvia Liu. There were hints of Blade Runner, Ready Player One, and Ender's Game with the main character fighting to succeed in Start-Up so she can be enmeshed into the multiweb early, with hopes it will bring her closer to her mother and her sister. But, very quickly, she comes to realize that not all is as it seems. With corporations like Masbook and Pear and Nile (not so subtle allusions to some big-named brands we know) running the world and monitoring their every move, Hana has to tread very lightly if she doesn't want to get caught by the Jing Za security forces. She meets up with an outsider named Ink, who brings her to a qigong master named Wayman. (I like how the book ends up teaching the reader about mindful breathing techniques, awesome!) She also teams up with friends from school, and it becomes clear that one of them is getting sick. Could her illness be caused by the school? Could her mom be somehow involved? And what about the mysterious Ghost Crab Nation, can they help in time? With a few twists at the end, this is a page-turner all the way through!
Profile Image for Jessica Vitalis.
Author 4 books144 followers
February 23, 2022
It's been a very, very long time since I've read a sci-fi book, and I'm so glad I did! This book was wonderful--fast-paced with believable but futuristic technology and filled with relatable characters. Set in 2053, the story is set in a world heavily influenced by Chinese culture and controlled by a handful of major corporations who wield far more power than the mostly ceremonial governments. The main character, Hana, is grieving the loss of her father and the time they spent together tinkering in their workshop. Both her mother and her older sister are meshed with technology that link their brains to a larger web, and Hana's grandmother isn't always fully present. When Hana is offered a spot at the prestigious Start Up school and given the opportunity to mesh early, she jumps on it. There, she quickly makes friends but starts to notice oddities, such as how one of her friends, Chuck, is getting sick and how her technology isn't working exactly right. Hana and her friends end up spying on the very same corporation where her mother holds a powerful position, and eventually, Hana is forced to choose whether she's going to trust her mother and the corporation or keep digging to find out what's really going on at Start Up. This wonderfully inventive story serves as a cautionary tale about corporate greed, power, and technology.
Profile Image for Jaime.
60 reviews
January 21, 2022
This book absolutely blew me away. Not only was it thought-provoking and beautifully written, it was fast-paced and exciting, as well. A truly original sci-fi adventure.
The set-up grabbed me from the start. It’s the year 2053, and twelve-year-old Hana is joining her Start-Up Class. This is where she’ll train to mesh with the multi-web, where human brains are connected to all information and to each other. But as she progresses through the academy, she learns that not everything is as it seems, and she’s called to action by a corporate conspiracy that threatens everything she knows. Super exciting, and I can NOT wait share it with the students at my school.
Hana is such a great new character. She’s original, believable, brave, and smart and I was rooting for her the whole way. I know so many kids that are going to both admire her and relate to her. The world-building was well-thought out and vivid, and the themes surrounding technology were important and timely. It’s not often that I read a book that is this smart AND this fun, and I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Marion Cleborne.
65 reviews
March 14, 2022
Thank you to the author, Sylvia Liu, and the publisher for giving me an ARC of this book!

Hana Hsu wants to be meshed—connected to the multiweb full-time via an implant in her brain. That way, she’ll better understand her meshed mother and sister and hopefully reconnect with them. However, during her start-up program, strange things keep happening, leading Hana to investigate and uncover secrets…

Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation is a wonderful sci-fi adventure in a world steeped in Chinese culture. The two mesh (pardon the pun) together perfectly to create a truly unique and immersive world I loved reading about. Hana herself was my favorite of the cast, with her bot-building and desire to connect with her family. She’s a great protagonist!

This novel has a lot of twists and turns I did not see coming, too! I think young readers will be on the edge of their seats turning pages as they uncover secrets with Hana. I cannot wait for this book to come out so others can fall in love with it, too!
Profile Image for Danielle Hammelef.
985 reviews124 followers
January 22, 2022
I had so much fun reading Hana's story. Hana is not only clever, but emotionally intelligent too. Her questioning nature often puts her at odds with others and creates tension, driving the action forward.

This middle grade sci-fi novel has so much for readers to love--3D characters, excellent world building, action, adventure, mystery, and enough danger with unexpected twists that delighted me and kept me reading to find out what would happen next. The family dynamics and friendships rounded out this futuristic story that felt so real and never pulled me out of my suspended belief that this was actually happening or possible.

The technology included and underlying issues facing this future society will give readers so much to think about in tomorrow's world. I see in-depth morality and ethical discussions on how far technology should interfere with what it means to be human happening as readers put themselves in Hana's shoes. Highly recommended for all middle grade readers.
Profile Image for Deke Moulton.
Author 2 books43 followers
June 5, 2022
Buckle up for an absolutely fun and satisfying unraveling of a mystery hinging on corporate espionage and experimentation on a school of exceptional kids. No where else in middle grade have I encountered a book with a more compelling, developed, and horrifyingly believable constructed SciFi world. I loved following along with Hana as she developed and struggled against two very strong yearnings - staying loyal to her family and becoming 'just like everyone else' or staying true to her feelings that there is something wrong. There aren’t many SciFi books that have as fascinatingly developed worlds as this one, and the warnings against corporate control is so very important and real. I loved how Hana's strength came from her developed friendships and interactions, and how well she relied on her friends while still being powerful and strong in her own right. THis is a mandatory book for any MG shelf!! A stand out, completely unique science fiction story.
5 reviews2 followers
April 14, 2021
What an incredible page-turner! I didn’t see the plot twists coming and was still being surprised in the final chapters. I LOVED Hana and the fantastic cast of characters like Ink, Chuck, and Tomás.

As well as being a fast-paced, sci-fi adventure with incredibly fleshed-out characters, there are so many themes I was left thinking about when I finished reading. The amount of tech we consume and what we’re sacrificing for it, things advertised as helping bring people together that are creating more separation and sadness, as well as the benefits of having information at our fingertips.

This is a timely, inclusive, deeply funny and thoughtful middle grade book, and one this generation needs. I read middle grade novels and make note of the ones my niece and nephew will like that I also think have something important to say. I can't wait to give them this one!
Profile Image for Alyssa.
Author 4 books71 followers
December 3, 2022
Me reading the end of every single chapter of this book: "Well, I can't stop THERE! Maybe one more page..." (TUrns into reading a whole chapter.) "Well I can't stop THERE EITHER! More!"

Hence, I finished this book in less than 3 days, which is really, really fast for me. I couldn't put it down!

Set in a future society where governments have ceded control to four major corporations that now run the world, Hana Hsu is a winning and engaging hero who struggles with age-old issues such as family changes, independence, and changing friendships...all while deciding whether she wants to get hardwired to be plugged into the omnipresent internet. The worldbuilding feels possible and never heavy-handed. I believe this is the first in a series and I can't wait to see where Sylvia Liu takes her characters and what new elements of the world we get to explore!
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