To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

This epic science fiction felt meticulously researched and planned resulting in a space odyssey that made me feel like I was on the adventure with the rest of the crew.


SYNOPSIS

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she’s awakened a nightmare. During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human. 

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope…from Goodreads.

A dark cover with a female form floating in a bath of stars.

MY THOUGHTS

This book was a book club selection. I am in two bookclubs right now and I love that neither of the clubs I am currently active in only want to read best sellers or the Famous Person Pick Of The Month. This month, one of our members who is a sci-fi fiend, picked Christopher Paolini’s newest book To Sleep in a Sea of Stars.

This book was a massive undertaking for me. The story, told in six parts, is 825 pages has an additional 100 pages of addendum. The science, both real and imagined, was both fascinating and detailed and absolutely outside my knowledge bank. I consistently had to stop and look up things. I now know that when I say I enjoy science fiction I mean stories-that-happen-in space vs stories based on the science and theoretical science of space.

That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this book. I enjoyed at least 500 pages of this story. Friends of mine who love science fiction and my very own book club member inform me that one of the things lacking in science fiction is the details of the rigors of living and working in space. They surely will not have this complaint here! This book was not lacking in details. Every time the crew had to go from one location to the other, Paolini walked us through all the steps and the travel. Cryo, how it works, the navigation, and the day to day existence of traveling in space is all laid out in glorious detail. And, the first time, I was interested. The tenth time…..not so much.

The story centered around Kira Navárez, a xenobiologist on a mission for her company when she finds an alien relic. The thrill of her discover turns to horror as the dust around her begins to swarm and settle around her, consuming her. Weeks later, she awakes on her own ship surrounded by her crew with an alien species attached to her body.

If you could mange to get me into space (never going to happen) and I had an alien attach itself to me I would freak out so badly that I would be rendered immediately useless. Nope, nope, nope! But, I suppose, growing up in space would make someone slightly more capable of handling being invaded by an alien than growing up on Earth. My childhood has left me absolutely freaking out when bugs crawl onto my blanket while eating outside.

The story shined for me when Kira joined a civilian ship. While Kira never felt real to me, The Wallfish contained a crew I loved so much that their future mattered more to me than the theoretical destruction of Earth. Through the crew and passengers of the ship I could see the level of detail Paolini had created. The world building, both micro and macro, was so massive and deep that suddenly, the fact that it took him nine years to write made sense. The whole story took off for me through the eyes of this crew and I cheered for them and worried for them for the rest of the story.

Unfortunately, I also found the fighting to be repetitious. Between the fighting and the travel there are, at a minimum, three hundred pages that I felt added little to nothing to the story. Admittedly, I am always looking for character development and neither the science nor the details of the world typically draw me further in unless they help me understand the characters better. Also, I don’t know what the editor was doing but some words are so tragically over used (ichor! carapaces!) that I started to feel angry when I saw them again. The whole story could have been tightened up, edited down and nothing would have been lost. Instead, part of the accomplishment of reading this book is making it successfully to the end.

Does it sound like I am not recommending this book? Far from it. Rather, I recommend this book to any sci-fi friend out there that is thrilled by the actual science of space and space travel. I am certainly happy I read the book because it helped me get a stronger sense of what type of science fiction I am interested in reading.


Tell me, please! When is the last time you read outside your favorite genres? How did it go?


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Satabdi Mukherjee

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