Finally, after months of fear-mongering in my own brain, I tackled the Goliath of my TBR pile–To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, the new space-opera sci-fi from Christopher Paolini that comes in at 880 pages, including an extensive glossary. It was…daunting, to say the least. I don’t read much Sci-Fi, or space stuff, but I remember liking Eragon back in the day and I requested the dang thing on NetGalley…so I felt like I had to read it. It took…awhile, and it was a lot of work to keep my motivation up as the percentages slowly ticked by, but I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! Again, not a space person, but I liked the story! It was interesting, Kira was compelling, and maybe I learned some science stuff?
Let’s start at the beginning shall we? Kira Navarez is a xenobiologist in a near-future society in which humans have branched out into space. Kira is as human as you or me (with some nice augments, of course) but has never been to Earth. She’s working for a company that does something akin to pre-colonization research & prep on new locales, and she’s about to blast off from her last assignment when he ends up discovering a strange formation. When she falls in….things go south quick. When she wakes up, back with her crew, everything has changed. An alien biosuit, of sorts (called a xeno), has attached itself to Kira, and it’s going to change her life. The suit is powerful–maybe too powerful–and after it lashes out and hurts the ones she loves, Kira finds herself both on the run towards and from the military. But then, things get complicated with a new form of aliens make contact–and they appear to be hostile. Things are not what they seem in space though, and Kira’s suit may just be the cause and the cure to everything going wrong. Interstellar war isn’t a cakewalk, but along the way, Kira travels far and wide, meets up with a fascinating crew aboard the Wallfish, and there is much more to her xenosuit than she ever realized. The universe will never be the same.
Okay, I’m not going to critique any science parts of this, because for one, I was an English major. Also, that’s not why I read books–I’m not taking notes so I can also go into space, ya know? But I did like the story of this! Kira was compelling, flawed in the right ways and stubborn, and I loved the cast of supporting characters. Especially Mr. Fuzzypants, the ship cat. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, so I can’t say how it compares to similar books, but I still enjoyed the book, even if I was overwhelmed by its size. Gregoravich was a really fascinating character to read as someone who doesn’t do sci-fi too!
One thing I do want to talk about is pacing and structure–because this book was 880 pages but somehow did this so well. There are six parts, each with chapters inside of it and mini sections. It kept you from getting bogged down in one thing or another. I love a good short chapter, and these weren’t that short, but they were super manageable. Also, the problem with existing in space is that getting places can…take a while. And following along while people float in space for six months is boring, right? Not here—because Paolini uses the “exeunt” sections and Kira’s immunity to cryo to his advantage and makes it interesting and reflective but doesn’t dwell in it too long–not long enough to bore us or make us want to skip those parts.
Overall, I give this book 4 stars! I’m not going to start reading all the sci-fi back log now, but it’s cool to see Paolini back in the swing of things, and I will definitely recommend this book to space and sci-fi lovers!
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is on sale everywhere September 15, 2020