[YA] ARC REVIEW: Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson 💭 A Great Debut with a Few Gears Missing

Since this girl has hit a few snags in my reading and quarantine life, we are replacing this MG Monday for an ARC review that I’m behind on.


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Title: Goddess in the Machine
Author: Lora Beth Johnson

Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult | Sci-Fi

Release Date: June 30th 2020
Publisher: Razorbill

When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning.

Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists–including her family and friends–are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.

Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne–if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.

With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?



Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Penguin Teen through Yallfest 2019. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

This has been one of my most anticipated reads since I heard about it coming out. I was so excited that I managed to snag a copy of it at Yallfest last year, and then I somehow didn’t read it until now??? I’m not entirely sure what happened there, and while there was still a few missing gears in this machine, it was still a great debut. 

📌 on plot

The first part of this book opened with a smash. Our heroine, Andra, wakes up in a strange new world and discovers she’s not on the planet she was supposed to be traveling to – along with the fact that there is a whole new dialect, technology, and the fact that people seem to think she’s a Goddess. I was immersed in this strange new land full of intriguing new people, a whole different language system, and interesting characteristics of the planet. Johnson made it believable and captivating.

The first part of the story – about the first 100 – 150 pages or so – were so fast-paced and fascinating. I couldn’t get enough. I was flipping the pages so quick to see what is next. The plot is definitely jam-packed with twists and turns – some I was able to predict, some I wasn’t. However, after the first real hook, I felt like there was either too much going on or not enough? Some of the plot twists lost their oomph, because I didn’t quite fully grasp it.

📌 on characters

I really enjoyed Andra as our main character. She reacted the way I think anyone would in the situation. I think sometimes her focus was a little misguided on some things, but she was thrust in an insane situation. I liked her strength and her personality – along with her love of the language. I think I lost her a bit at the end of the book, but overall, she was a great main character.

I also enjoyed the side characters. Zhade reminded me a lot of Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles. I enjoyed his snark and his personality was a lot of fun. I loved him in the beginning, but I felt like at the end, he was doing things that I didn’t fully understand and grasp as part of his personality.

A lot of the other side characters were okay, for me – not the most captivating, but they made a decent ensemble.

📌 on writing

The writing was pretty good! I’m not the biggest fan of sci-fi novels, but this was so immersive and intriguing. I was definitely impressed with it. I think Johnson was the most impressive with her world-building. It truly felt like I was transported to another time and place. I also loved her attention to language – Johnson wrote in there that she loved language, and you could tell. I was able to pick up on it easy enough, and I loved it.

The pacing was a little off – at times, I was enraptured by it at times, but then it took me forever to get through it. Yes, it took me a long time to read it due to the crazy times we’re living in, but I think the pacing got me a little confused as well.

📌 overall

This was a very good read – I was immersed, entertained, and intrigued. However, I think I had insanely high expectations caused me to just not love it as much as I wanted it to be. Overall, a good read, but I just wanted a little more. 


rating: Jasmine, because this didn’t quite meet my expectations
biracial MC (Asian & white), various other minorities (not described), deaf side character, plus sized MC
content warnings: death, murder


What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!


4 thoughts on “[YA] ARC REVIEW: Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson 💭 A Great Debut with a Few Gears Missing

  1. Great post Mandy! I was excited to see what you thought of it. I do agree that Zhade didn’t fully convince me of his objectives and I’m still not sure about him and Andra’s relationship but I’m glad you liked it. Now we have to wait a while for the sequel…


  2. Ooh I haven’t heard about this book until now, but I’m curious! The blurb makes it seem very very intense and high-stakes. Sorry to hear it didn’t live up to your expectations though – the pacing sounds a bit iffy. Great review!


  3. A….a…a Thorne-like character??? The Carswell Thorne?????? Mandy. MANDY. I need to read this book now don’t I? I mean other than your amazing review, I don’t think I actually paid this book much attention, but you got my attention now!!!


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