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The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

BOTTOM LINE: Disappointing

Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: 13 June 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“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…”

My Thoughts: Take a story about space travel and colonization of other planets, combine that with a horrific virus that wipes out 99.9999 percent of the universe’s population, and mix it up with a rag-tag bunch of survivors forced to make decisions about what to do with the rest of their lives. What you should have is a very interesting story that would have me nonstop reading. Instead, there is The Space Between the Stars.

To be fair, The Space Between the Stars has its moments. Yet, I think I missed something about the novel which would have put everything that happens into better context. This is a novel that is heavy on philosophy, and I tend to space out in philosophic discussions in books. I do this not because I find them tedious, even though they can be, but because I do not want to spend my time reading about fictional characters discussing the meaning of life. There is more than enough time in real life to have such weighty discussions.

Jamie makes for an interesting protagonist even if I don’t quite understand her reasoning. More than once during the novel, I found myself wondering if she was not somewhere on the autism spectrum given her need to avoid people. There was later reference to her parents’ passing when she was young and unresolved grief issues, yet something about that as an explanation does not quite make sense. Perhaps this is due to the fact that more than half the novel had passed before this was first mentioned, or perhaps it is due to something I missed altogether. I just know that I never understood her, even though a creditable size of the novel is spent in her mind while she works through these issues.

I wanted The Space Between the Stars to be more action and adventure than it actually is. There are some scenes that are exciting, interspersed between the serious stuff. There were just enough that it would keep me reading and hoping for the next exciting scene. Instead, what it ends up being is a fairly serious novel about survival and, well, the meaning of life. I don’t know whether my disappointment is a result of my inability to carefully read the synopsis or if the synopsis promises more than it delivers. Either way, this is a novel better suited to someone who enjoys philosophy and discussing such ideas as humanity’s responsibility upon the apocalypse.

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