Hello Humans! Welcome back to another book review.
Pause – there are some things you need to go look at the following:
Checked those out? Ok, we can go on with the review! I was delighted to get to read the sequel to The Stars Now Unclaimed since I remembered really enjoying the worldbuilding and the characters in the first book – but did it hold up?
It’s been three years since Esa left her backwater planet to join the ranks of the Justified. Together, she and fellow agent Jane Kamali have been travelling across the known universe, searching for children who share Esa’s supernatural gifts.
On a visit to a particularly remote planet, they learn that they’re not the only ones searching for gifted children. They find themselves on the tail of a mysterious being with impossible powers who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the very children that Esa and Jane are trying to save.
With their latest recruit in tow—a young Wulf boy named Sho—Esa and Jane must track their strange foe across the galaxy in search of answers. But the more they learn, the clearer it becomes—their enemy may be harder to defeat than they ever could have imagined.
Am I being silly if I suggest that science fiction is, in fact, one of the most subjective and varied genres out there? I feel like I very rarely read two sci-fi books that are similar and I find it so hard to recommend books in this genre since everyone likes different things! If you enjoy the kind of science fiction I like*, I think you’ll enjoy this book too!
*I’ll go into more detail don’t worry.
I love the worldbuilding in this book and in the previous book in the series. I think the idea of ‘the pulse’ an incident that degrades the technology of various worlds – but affects them differently, is one of the strongest aspects of this series. It allows for huge variation between different settings and it means you can keep the characters from being overpowered! While this book focusses less on the nature of the pulse in comparison to book one, it still allows the setting to flourish.
Where in The Stars Now Unclaimed it was the setting and the world that really stuck with me, in this book it was the characters. You can see why Becky Chambers’ endorsement has been used so prominently in the marketing of this book, the character-focussed science fiction is strong with this one. I wouldn’t say this book had as much of an impact on me as a reader as, for example, A Closed and Common Orbit, but certainly, I can see the similarities between these authors.
This book, as you’ll see from the summary, follows on from the events of book one, but with enough of a time jump that Esa is no longer a child and has joined Jane in her mission to scour the universe for other gifted children. The book is actually told from Esa’s perspective (if I’m remembering correctly the first book was from Jane’s) which I really enjoyed. I thought that Esa was a wonderfully multi-faceted character who managed to simultaneously be a badass sci-fi heroine and also to spark a kind of empathy. Obviously, you want her to be storming around the galaxy defeating bad guys but at the same time, you’re aware that three years ago she was just a child living on a planet with no idea of the horrors to come in her future. There’s a lot to do with the theme of responsibility, and also of processing trauma which are things that I think work well in this kind of setting.
This book, plotwise, didn’t feel (to me) as though it had too much substance. I did enjoy the main storyline but it felt incredibly quick and then suddenly it was done. I’m not sure this story felt like it had the same ‘universal’ scope that the first book did. I think this is because the first book had to set up some universe-wide concepts where this is more of a story within that universe. I personally found that this was perfect for me because I was in need of something simple and that was a change of pace from the slower, more ‘deep’ books I had been reading up until that point. So, my suggestion is this, if you want to enjoy this book then make sure it’s the right time for you!
Overall, I think this is a great addition to your sci-fi books shelf – if this is the kind of science fiction you enjoy!
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
A Chain Across the Dawn is available now!
What say you? Will you be reading this? Let me know in the comments below!