A deadly virus has drastically reduced the population not only of earth but of the whole human race across the stars. This epic homecoming story had me in tears by the end!
The Space between the Stars by Anne Corlett is an enthralling novel of love, the choices we make, and what it means to be human. It’s also a dramatic road-trip across the stars, as a woman journeys across a plague-ravaged universe to the place she once called home, and the man she once loved.
How far would you travel to find your way home? Jamie Allenby wakes, alone, and realises her fever has broken. But could everyone she knows be dead?
Months earlier, Jamie had left her partner Daniel, mourning the miscarriage of their baby. She’d just had to get away, so took a job on a distant planet. Then the virus hit. Jamie survived as it swept through our far-flung colonies. Now she feels desperate and isolated, until she receives a garbled message from Earth.
If someone from her past is still alive – perhaps Daniel – she knows she must find a way to return. She meets others seeking Earth, and their ill-matched group will travel across space to achieve their dream. But they’ll clash with survivors intent on repeating humanity’s past mistakes, threatening their precious fresh start. Jamie will also get a second chance at happiness. But can she escape her troubled past, to embrace a hopeful future?
I try my darndest not to read reviews of books before I have read them myself, particularly where ARC titles are concerned because I want to be sure that I’m giving you guys my opinion and not just rehashing what another book blogger has already said. But with The Space Between the Stars I happened to catch a glimpse of a couple of reviews that seemed to be a bit cross that this wasn’t overly sci-fi-y. Now if you need parades of aliens or detailed spaceship analysis to enjoy a sci-fi book that is totally fine, we all have our preferences and this book may not be your cup of tea. But for me, someone who isn’t averse to science fiction but just needs a lighter dose this was perfect. I think the sci fi setting was necessary for the plot to work, the long distances between planets, the isolation and also the science and technology needed to make this make sense would only work in a futuristic setting.
But it is the themes of the story that are the most important (in this instance at least) and those themes would make for compelling storytelling even if you took them out of this setting. The exodus these characters undertake is in many ways timeless, the whole book is a homecoming, it’s striving to find hope in a time of hopelessness, it’s the joy and also the pain of survival against the odds, it explores complexities of faith when faith doesn’t make any sense. In a more ‘definite’ sense this book deals a lot with infertility and a lot of the complex emotions that can spring up from that.
What struck me most (and what I really wasn’t expecting) was the close bonds I formed with the characters by the end of the book. I know some people have said they found the female protagonist Jamie to be a bit whiney but honestly if basically everyone I had known had died I might be inclined to be a tad miserable too! So, though I would never have believed it when I started the book, I ended the book in tears I was just so emotional! Ok yes, I cry at a lot of things, never let me watch the first 10 minutes of Up but even so- me crying at a book that involves a spaceship is practically unheard of.
This book deals with a lot of big topics, I’ve already mentioned infertility, there’s also a character with Autism and a character who is a sex worker. There’s a bit of non-consensual activity which might trouble some readers (if you ever have a question about a book and you want a bit more information to see if it will be ok for you to read please feel free to contact me via my twitter or my contact page and I’ll be happy to respond as best I can). As I am not someone who has Autism or who is a sex worker I’m obviously not the person to decide that this representation is suitable, however there didn’t seem anything overly problematic about it (again, always happy to be called out if I’m wrong about something).
I was really pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this book. Again, if you’re looking for high sci-fi you might want to search elsewhere, but if you want a book that makes you really think about what you might do in similar situations (though hopefully we never find ourselves there) then why not pick up The Space Between the Stars which publishes June 1st.
My rating: 4/5 stars (because it wasn’t perfect, perhaps a few too many worthy moments)
By the way, I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher (Macmillan) via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I wouldn’t recommend it if I hadn’t enjoyed it!
Any thoughts? Do you prefer more ‘sci-fi’ in your science fiction? Let’s chat about it either in the comments below or on twitter (@judithcmoore)
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