by Anne Corlett
Published on June 13, 2017 by Berkley Books
Genres: Adult, Fiction, Science Fiction
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...
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This book first reminded me of a sci-fi/dystopian-esque book I read years ago, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, in that it deals with human survival but also in the way that it makes you really think. The story is more about Jamie, a survivor of a virus that wiped out most of humanity on Earth, and how she comes to terms with her past and her future. It’s very character-centered and I think that was one of the strengths here because, so often, sci-fi and dystopian novels seem to get stuck in the world-building and the character development is ignored. In this case, it was more about Jamie while the world filled in the gaps and I really enjoyed that.
The Space Between the Stars continues to provoke all sorts of thoughts with the group of survivors, each very different in who they are as well as their outlooks on life. Once they were all together, the relationships began to unfold and I’m not speaking in a romantic sense, necessarily. The characters were real. They weren’t playing up certain tropes and I appreciated that. Plus, I really liked Jamie. She has had a lot go down in her past and life hasn’t been the greatest since then, but she’s strong and doesn’t take the easy road in life.
I want to make it clear that this book is not some high-flying space adventure full of action and thrills. If that’s what you’re looking for you’re likely going to be disappointed. But it does feature some future space-y tech and a dystopian vibe. Did I quite believe the massive virus that all but destroyed humanity? Not quite. But it worked and since this book is more focused on the character, I didn’t mind some of the more implausible world elements.
I enjoyed this book for the way it looked at a dystopian world beyond the world itself. It likely doesn’t fit what most people would consider a sci-fi novel which may be confusing but if you go in looking for strong characters with an attention to drawing the reader in to looking beyond the descriptions, then I think you’ll enjoy this. And if you have read this, go check out that book I mentioned at the beginning, The Testament of Jessie Lamb!