Book Review: The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

Book Synopsis

In a breathtakingly vivid and emotionally gripping debut novel, one woman must confront the emptiness in the universe—and in her own heart—when a devastating virus reduces most of humanity to dust and memories.

All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit…

Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive.

Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be…

Expected publication: June 13th 2017

3.5 Stars!

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I finished The Space Between the Stars just over two months ago and I’ve had a hard time sitting down to write a review because I’m really not sure what I think. Overall, it’s a solid book, but I had some rather large issues with it. The story starts with the main character, Jamie, waking up after a virus literally burned the majority of the people in the universe to dust. The virus has a 99.9999% fatality rate and Jamie shouldn’t have survived, but somehow she did. She quickly meets up with two other people on her rural planet and they are soon picked up by a spaceship, bringing their party to 5. They shortly pick up two more strays, and run into a few more people, which makes it abundantly clear that more than .0001% of the universe’s population survived.

One major thing that I need to get out of the way is the similarity to Firefly. If you have watched Firefly, you will see the overlap immediately, and it’s pretty much impossible to not see the similarities once they show up. The biggest similarity is in the cast of characters, though there are several very similar plot points as well. We have the gruff captain with a heart of gold, the army veteran/engineer (combined in this case), the doctor (veterinarian in this case), the preacher, the prostitute, and the genius (autistic in this case, instead of River). As you can see, this is an enormous amount of overlap. Even though their personalities are somewhat different than the characters in Firefly, it was really hard to overlook it and view the characters as new, unique people.

Jamie’s sole goal throughout the first half of the story is to get back to Earth and her former lover, who she is convinced will be waiting for her. I struggled with Jamie’s character quite a bit. She was incredibly selfish, whiny, and downright obnoxious most of the time. Even when she got what she thought she wanted, she wasn’t happy and couldn’t articulate what it was she did want. She came across as really indecisive and not knowing herself, which is fine, but it makes characters difficult to engage with and relate to.

The writing and the plot were both fairly good. Several major plot points/twists did end up being a bit predictable, but overall I did enjoy the story. I felt that the story really gained its footing in the second half of the novel and I did enjoy it a lot more once things really got moving. I would have liked a bit more of the sci-fi aspects to come through – the characters might as well have been travelling by train or boat instead of travelling through space – but it was still a solid story.

Overall this was a good debut novel for readers looking for a light sci-fi/post-apocolyptic novel. I would definitely read more books written by Anne Corlett in the future.

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