Content warning Very poor ending; selling souls to hell does pay!
I accept that I'm probably not the target audience for this, but here we go... I so wanted to like this as I've seen lots of good reviews and the book does have lots of good aspects: it's nice to see Asian-American communities described so ...lovingly, the food and violin bits are well done, one of the protagonists is a trans woman. But... it's not well written (too many POV changes, too much telling and not enough showing), Bad Things Are Done directly or indirectly by main characters without accountability, characters lack agency and do things because of the authors being able to make them do things as opposed to them being sufficiently well-developed so that you think they're making their own decisions (e.g when Astrid catches Katrina at a webcam). The sciency bits are complete gibberish. The two plot strands come together very clumsily at the end (really would have benefited from omitting the intergalactic donut salespeople (and another thing, if sales are dipping, why not replicate ...money instead of donuts?) and concentrating on the violin/souls aspect). It's also heinously missold as "Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet". It's neither and is a long way from either. I think we can all agree that misgendering is pretty shit, but it doesn't need to be a capital offence; a bit of wish fulfilment perhaps? The quote in the title is said by a character to Katrina but applies to Shizuka, who really is quite a problematic character. And the book lacks empathy for others; there's Katrina, Shizuka, the Trans (get it? the TRANS!) and a few others, but many other people in the book don't rise above NPC level and can be treated accordingly. I feel my blood pressure rising, so I'll stop, but before I do, maybe the book needs content warnings for sexual assault, transphobia, racism and homophobia among others.