Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: The Space Between the Stars

There’s nothing really wrong with his novel, its just that I didn’t like it very much. That’s not true, I liked some of it and other bits irked me.

So the basics are that there’s been a plague that has wiped out almost everyone, there’s a 1 in a million survival rate from this virus. Humanity have spread beyond earth and that’s where we find our main character, Jamie. She’s a vet, living on a settler planet called Solitaire and wakes up, having survived the virus. Jamie gets it into her head that she wants to go back to Earth, to where she grew up, thinking that her ex-partner would be there too.

So, there’s a lot in the story that I don’t want to give away, because it would spoil it so much. It’s got a fair good amount of drama and tension, which made its a fairly compelling read. The things that I didn’t like were that all the characters were all a bit too much as a group, and they really grated on me. Maybe that was the point, but after awhile it just wore a little thin. As well, Jamie’s inconsistency in what she wants to do got a bit old (and I felt the ultimate reason for that a bit lame as an explanation).

And there were some things that were incredibly too convenient and unlikely to happen given the survival rate of the virus. The least likeable thing was that there was at least one rape attempt and a whole lot of other uncomfortableness around the female characters on more than one occasion. FINE. It’s the end of the world/humanity or whatever but it was still awful and took me right out of the book.

But it does get a lot of things right. I liked near the end when Jamie has to face what other people’s ideas of choice was, even though it wasn’t like hers. I like the whole journey and rag-tag crew of misfits (sometimes anyway) and the different ways of people dealing with such a catastrophe. I think the pacing was just right, with the sniping between some of the characters giving way to discovering new people, new places and having to deal with the consequences of survival. Some of the characters I really liked, like Gracie, Callan and Lowry – who to be fair were the chillest of the lot. What was also interesting was the mixes of new technology and hints at what had changed on Earth and to humanity. It was a nice touch, making it feel more contemporary than it probably was aiming to be.

I think people’s mileage will vary with this one. I really have to like the characters to enjoy a book, but this may not be the case with you. It was still a good read but I just couldn’t get on with Jamie and Rena. Maybe I’d just assume that whatever trauma people had in the past would have been overshadowed by most of humanity dying out. Maybe not. People are people.

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