The Wasp Child by Rhiannon Rasmussen

The Wasp Child by Rhiannon Rasmussen
Publisher: Robot Dinosaur Press
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), LGBTQ, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Caught between two worlds. Wanted in neither.

Kesh is afraid—of his classmates, his allergies, his odd sense of smell, and his prospects for the future. Born into Meridian Colony, where corporate values dictate human worth, Kesh longs for escape. He gets what he asks for in the worst possible way when his classmates kidnap and dump him in the middle of an alien rainforest. Alone.

Faced with certain death, Kesh encounters the sansik, giant insects native to the planet. Though the sansik seem to care for him, their pheromones set off a horrific metamorphosis in Kesh. Claws sprout from his fingertips. A monstrous exoskeleton grows beneath his skin. And then the bugs do the unthinkable: trade him back to Meridian, where life as a living scientific curiosity awaits him, a bleak future void of autonomy.

Caught in a tug-of-war between Meridian’s laboratories and a harsh alien world, Kesh has to make a choice: convince his people to accept him, or break free and face an uncertain future alone in an alien world.

Some things are far scarier than death.

This was an excellent example of young adult fiction that transcends its genre and trusts its audience to come up with our own theories about which portions of modern society the author may have been critiquing. I have some pretty firm opinions about the answers to that question, but I appreciated how much space the narrator gave me to reach those conclusions on my own. Growing fond of Kesh was all I needed to begin to understand the flaws of the rigid society he’d been born into. As much as I want to share specific examples of some of those ideas, it’s really best for other readers to slowly understand the unjust and dangerous side of his world for themselves.

Body horror is one of the scariest sub-genres of horror in my opinion, and it was handled beautifully in this novella. I shuddered while I read Kesh’s descriptions of the bizarre and frightening changes happening to his body that he could neither control nor predict. The blurb gave just a taste of what was to come, and I was glad to see how many plot twists it left for me to discover on my own.

Speaking of plot twists, this was one of the most creative things I’ve read so far this year. I kept assuming I knew what the author might have up their sleeves only to be once again surprised by their vivid imagination. Based on how much I loved this tale, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what Rasmussen comes up with next!

The Wasp Child made me yearn for more.