January 18, 2023

REVIEW Ruby Finley vs. The Interstellar Invasion by K. Tempest Bradford

Ruby Finley vs the Interstellar Invasion 
by K. Tempest Bradford
Rating: 3 Stars
Release Date: September 27, 2022
Format: Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (FSG) 

I discovered K. Tempest Bradford’s Ruby Finley vs the Interstellar Invasion via social media, and I’m so happy I did. 

Ruby Finley is a whip-smart kid, and her dream is to be an entomologist (or scientist who studies bugs) when she grows up. When she discovers a bug that she’s never seen before, she takes it home in a jar to study. However, after things start disappearing from the neighborhood and strange men in suits show up looking for the bug, she quickly realizes it's even more special than she thought. 

The mystery element of this book was fun. Ruby and her friends try their best to determine what’s going on in their neighborhood and hunt down the bug once they figure out it's the culprit. I also liked the different sci-fi elements that were incorporated with the bug (I can’t really directly reference them without spoiling that aspect of the book). One issue I had with the overall book was the title and the cover - it kind of spoils the main action of the story and makes it obvious what Ruby and her friends will be facing. However, I realize that I’m much older than the target audience for the book so middle-grade readers might not make that connection or be as bothered by it as I am. 

I also want to note how much I appreciated how the community came together at the end of the book. I particularly liked Ruby’s parents, who were excellent role models and stood up for her with the unfair treatment and racism she was experiencing in school. No one should ever imply that a child is not smart enough to do a project (and honestly, most parents end up helping their kid with science fair presentations to some small degree). Prospective readers should also be aware that Channie Waites did a good job bringing the story to life with her performance in the audiobook narration. 

TL: DR; Middle-grade science fiction readers who enjoy mystery and some STEM elements will find themselves immersed in Ms. Bradford’s story. It’s a diverse, empowering read that focuses on the importance of believing in yourself as well as your family, friends, and community. If you= like Kwame Mbalia’s Tristan Strong or B.B. Alston’s Amari and the Night Brothers you will undoubtedly enjoy this action-packed sci-fi adventure. 

About the Book
Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion is a backyard adventure-mystery by debut children’s author K. Tempest Bradford, perfect for fans of Clean GetawayThe Last Last Day of Summer, and Sideways School.

Eleven-year-old Ruby is a Black girl who loves studying insects and would do just about anything to be an entomologist, much to the grossed-out dismay of her Gramma. Ruby knows everything there is to know about insects so when she finds the weirdest bug she’s ever seen in her front yard, she makes sure no one is looking and captures it for further study.

But then Ruby realizes that the creature isn’t just a regular bug. And it has promptly burned a hole through her window and disappeared. Soon, random things around the neighborhood go missing, and no one’s heard from the old lady down the street for a week. Ruby and her friends will have to recover the strange bug before the feds do.

Ruby is the science hero we’ve all been waiting for!

About the Author

K. Tempest Bradford is an award-winning teacher, media critic, and author of fantasy and science fiction steeped in Black Girl Magic. Her debut middle grade novel Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion will be out in September 2022 from FSG for Young Readers.

Tempest’s short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies and magazines, including In The Shadow of the Towers and Strange Horizons. Her media criticism and essays on diversity and representation have been published at NPR, io9, Ebony Magazine, and more.

She teaches classes and gives talks on representation and creating diverse narratives for Writing the Other and has been invited to teach at Clarion West, LitReactor, universities, and entertainment companies.

She’s the recipient of the 2020 LOCUS Special Award for Inclusivity and Representation Education and the 2022 Lemonade Award. She’s been nominated for FIYAH Magazine‘s IGNYTE Community and Ember Awards.

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