Thursday, January 18, 2018

Space Apocalypse Story Quiet, Contemplative, and Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Born on the Northumbrian coast of England, Jamie Allenby has always longed for the wide open space of ... space.  When given the chance to relocate off-world at 22, she takes it.  Now 38, she's a veterinarian living on Soltaire, a planet roughly the size of Russia.  Jamie gains consciousness one day after suffering from a debilitating fever to find that the deadly virus has killed most of Soltaire's 10,000 inhabitants.  Fearing she's the only survivor, she heads out looking for others.  It's a desperate, frantic search through an endless, empty landscape. 

Eventually, Jamie finds a ragtag group of survivors, which includes Callan Jacobs, the captain of a spaceship.  Against the advice of his crew, Callan has been landing wherever he can in an effort to save as many humans as possible.  Relieved to be rescued, Jamie sets her sights on Planet Earth.  She and her estranged lover, Daniel, always said they'd meet in Northumberland if—when—their world in the stars ended. 

Turns out, Jamie's not the only one with an ambitious plan.  Others have their own ideas about how to move on, rebuild, and repopulate the human race.  Torn between duty, desperation, and desire, Jamie must decide what she really wants and how much she's willing to risk to get it.  With opposition around every corner, it will take all her strength, all her courage, to make her own future worth living.

The Space Between the Stars, a debut novel by English short story writer Anne Corlett, tells a sci fi tale unlike any other I've read.  Unlike most space age adventures, this one is quiet, contemplative, and fiercely character-driven.  Its brilliance comes not from elaborate world-building or creative creature-inventing, but from its ruminations on what it means to be human.  This isn't to say the novel's boring.  It's not.  Not at all.  There's more than enough action to keep a reader flipping pages.  That's just not what makes the book memorable.  Instead, it's the novel's chilling (without being too gory or graphic) vibe; vivid, lovely prose; and its thought-provoking questions that cause it to linger in the reader's mind long after they finish it.  I loved this unique novel and can't wait for more from its promising author.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a little of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives), mild sexual content, violence, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Space Between the Stars from the generous folks at Penguin Random House.  Thank you!

4 comments:

  1. This one sounds quite exciting and I can see how it would pose lots of questions for the pondering mind.

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    Replies
    1. It is compelling, just in a quiet, contemplative way. Definitely makes you think.

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  2. I don't read a ton of science fiction, but I think I'd like this one. Great review, Susan. :)

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  3. This sounds like an interesting read. I normally just like to read for entertainment, but every once in a while it's nice to read a book that makes you think.

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