So, what next? It’s a question everyone asks at some major point in their lives, once everything has been disrupted, upturned and seemingly destroyed. Having departed into space, Jamie Allenby discovers that those on the ship might be the last of their kind following the outbreak of a deadly virus across Earth. However, as a garbled message promises them what might be a new life, and that others have survived the disaster. Yet, with tempers flaring, and despair weighing heavily over the crew, many question if they are capable of making the journey. Or, for that matter, do they even deserve a new beginning?
As an extremely character driven and emotive piece, The Space Between the Stars has a great deal it needs to establish within a scant few pages. The disaster, the characters, setting the scene and then creating this sense of a possible new future could have easily led to a very rushed or overstuffed opening, but Corlette deftly handles the subject. We see through a number of introspective pieces and conversations more information than you might expect, and the atmosphere the book creates accomplishes enough to establish its ideas extremely early on. It even manages to get away with a surprisingly large number of “tell don’t show” moments, where dialogue, conversations and the narration does enough to give you a sense of what is going on.
The actual development of the characters in question is good if somewhat mixed. While a few certainly lack the finer details you might hope for, others still more than make up for this. The development of Rena - a burned out scientist - was one particular highlight, becoming fixated with possible religious contexts behind the virus and eventually becomes trapped in a maddening circle of her own making.
With all this said however, there are a few definite flaws here. Despite the space borne setting and solid premise, many elements feel oddly contemporary. Descriptions, details and even a few items of clothing all seem set in the modern era when this is supposed to take place far into the future. Furthermore, the dystopian elements used to flesh out this setting are very by the numbers, opting for concepts, which have been done to death over the years. Both would be fine in of themselves thanks to the character moments, but Allenby herself can easily put you off. Depression and despair are all natural, but before the second act was up she was on the verge of pulling a Shinji Ikari, and it was hard not to lose patience with her.
Overall, it’s a decent book and a good start, but it could have done with another draft or two to fine-tune a few elements.
THE SPACE BETWEEN THE STARS / AUTHOR: ANNE CORLETTE / PUBLISHER: BERLLEY PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW