Dove Arising

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Dove Arising Book Poster Image
Lunar military adventure has strong teen girl at center.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Set on the moon, Dove Arising does a good job of providing a realistic setting for its story. The characters all are named for stars and offer an inspiration for further reading about astronomy.

Positive Messages

Dove Arising stresses the importance of family and pushing yourself to excel in times of adversity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Phaet Theta spends most of her energy striving to protect her mother and siblings. She joins the Militia to get enough money to support them while their mother's in jail. Her desperation, however, endangers her basic goodness, causing her to be more brutal in her position than she needs to be.


In part because it deals with military training, Dove Arising contains many scenes of violence as Phaet and her fellow enlistees practice hand-to-hand combat with lasers and knives, sometimes with serious consequences. Phaet uses a powerful stun gun on an unarmed thief, but she feels bad about it later. A civilian character is executed with a laser beam, and a young girl is killed in a protest.


Phaet's relationship with her friend Umbriel doesn't extend much beyond the platonic. She is, however, attracted to Wes, although they have no time for romance.


"Damn" is used less than a dozen times, and "God damn" once. The characters instead use a slang that substitutes words such as "grit" and "fuse" for swear words.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dove Arising features intense scenes of military training on the moon. Phaet Theta and the other Militia enlistees are subjected to grueling exercises as they learn hand-to-hand combat and use lasers and knives as weapons, sometimes with deadly consequences. Phaet uses a stun gun to shoot an unarmed thief but feels bad about it later. A character is executed by a laser beam, and a young girl is killed during a protest. Phaet is attracted to Wes, but they have no time for romance. "Damn" is used a few times, "God damn" once.

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What's the story?

Barely speaking after her father is killed in an accident, 15-year-old Phaet Theta works in a greenhouse on the moon, enjoys her friendship with Umbriel, and tries to keep a low profile from the authorities. But when her journalist mother is taken away for allegedly writing seditious works, Phaet must join the Militia to protect her siblings and have any hope of freeing her mother. Despite grueling odds, she pushes herself to succeed. But all Phaet's efforts could be for naught if she can't conquer her fears while remaining empathetic and humane.

Is it any good?

DOVE ARISING author Karen Bao keeps the plot moving smoothly, delivering action-packed scenes while steadily upping the stakes. The story moves its "teen rebel" tale to the moon, following reluctant enlistee Phaet Theta as she tries to save her family from disgrace and starvation by succeeding against the odds in the Militia.

The lunar setting is credibly depicted, and Bao populates the cast with multidimensional characters. The concluding chapters offer plenty of surprises, and the cliffhanger ending will leave readers primed for the next installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it might be like to live in a militaristic police state. What do you think it would be like to live in a society where citizens are ruled by a mysterious "Committee"?

  • How does Dove Rising compare with other stories of teen rebels. How is this one different from others you've read? How is it similar?

  • What kinds of challenges do the children of incarcerated parents face? How would having a parent in jail affect your family?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science-fiction and dystopian novels

Themes & Topics

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