I was all set to mark To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini as a DNF after the first chapter. There is so much in the first quarter of the novel which reads like an extension of The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey. This includes terminology, anti-Earth sentiment, newly-found alien artifacts, the blending of alien and human biology, and consequences of that blending that impact the entire known universe.
A funny thing happened as I progressed to that twenty-five percent marker whereupon I would make my final decision. I started to care about the main character. A lot. I wanted to know more about what she was going to do with her Soft Blade issue. Moreover, I couldn’t tear myself away from the idea of an honest-to-goodness alien invasion and universe-wide war. And so a DNF turned into an 880-page devour.
Characters are not the heart of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. In fact, other than Kira, the rest of the cast consists of nothing but space opera archetypes with no character development. And there is nothing wrong with this. The near-constant action counteracts the lack of strong characters.
One of the best things about space operas, outside of the story, is how each author approaches aliens. More importantly, how each author approaches humanity’s reaction to concrete proof of aliens. In To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, that reaction is intriguing. The “shoot first, ask questions later” human traits takes a backseat to the need for adequate study and determination of threat level. In fact, it is the aliens who are the aggressors. Personally, I think this is a rather optimistic view of humanity, but it makes for interesting reading.
I thoroughly enjoyed To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. It has everything I love about such stories, including so much space travel that it allows you to finally grasp the vastness of space. I liked it so much that I would love to see more of Kira’s story. Thankfully, Mr. Paolini left the ending open for more should he so choose.