Published by Hodder & Stoughton, Hachette Australia on July 24, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Fiction
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From the ground, we stand. From our ship, we live. By the stars, we hope
The incredible new novel by Becky Chambers, author of the beloved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.
Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.
Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.
Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn't know where to find it.
Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.
When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:
What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?
When it comes to retrospective, slice of life, space-dwelling reads about the human condition, no one does it better than Becky Chambers. I adored the third installment in the Wayfarers series focusing on some humans who have settled in the Exodus Fleet, a self-sustaining colony. These books tend to focus on living, the gentle reflection of what it means to be human but also to be completely accepting of different cultures and inter-species communiciation. I love how same-sex couples and the acceptance of all life stages is the norm here.
While The Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit (reviews here) had a stronger focus on the lives of different alien species, this sequel centers itself on a few humans: Tessa who is raising her two children, teenager Kip who struggles with his purpose in life, newcomer Sawyer who wants to figure out how to fit in, and the archiver Isabel whose passion is understanding the history of their planet. There’s also Eyas who looks after plants and the alien Ghuh’loloan who is simply observing the Exodan’s way of life. There are many point of views here, but I found myself interested in each of their stories.
In particular, I loved hearing about the sustainable society on the Exodus Fleet and how each character contributed to it, from the composting of human bodies to recycling of all your scrap and even to how Exodans keep themselves “entertained” at night. Rather than info-dumping or telling you how the Exodans live, their life is explored through each of the characters, and we start to realise a familiar pattern – even though they live in space, on a distant colony, many of their struggles are still the same as ours.
Often, we as humans may look to the stars and wonder “what else is out there”, but as it appears, the grass is always greener to the other side. When will we stop looking for meaning elsewhere and start finding it in our personal lives? And if we don’t, will we make necessary changes that we believe is right for us?
Record of a Spaceborn Few is another beautiful, retrospective novel about living in space, humanity and what you do in life and death. I loved this gentle exploration of the settlement on the Exodus Fleet and the interesting musings about the human condition.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a review copy of the book!
Record of a Spaceborn Few is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$29.99 or from The Book Depository.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Published by Walker Books on September 7, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.
Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?
Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe delivered such an unexpected read for me that I devoured in one sitting! I was captivated by Romy’s plight on a space ship, being the only person travelling towards Earth II to populate the new planet. She’s haunted by anxiety and fear of the death that she’s experienced on her spaceship.
I can’t picture anything more chilling than being locked on a spaceship with death around every corner, no escape and only having yourself to keep you company. I loved the anxiety rep in the book. Romy is scared of the dark, there are certain places and memories that she avoids and her brain constantly works in overdrive. She’s also an incredibly smart heroine who can solve advanced mathethical problems and she’s a logical thinker, so I really backed her from the start. While there may be an element of insta-love, you can definitely understand her feelings especially since she’s been so lonely for so long.
I totally thought this was going to be a sci-fi romance as she started communicating with a Commander on another spaceship, but OH MY GOSH it turns into a chilling psychological thriller that had me glued to its pages. It’s such a short book, but there’s so much mystery and intrigue throughout Romy’s journey, especially as the book counts down to the arrival of The Eclipse when she will be joined by the Commander on the Eclipse. Finally, she won’t be alone anymore! The twist was absolutely brilliant and just made me love this book even more. I can see why people expecting this to be a completely different book to what it was would be jarred from the experience, but I absolutely adored it.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe definitely delivered with its psychological twist and anxiety representation. There is nothing scarier than living on a spaceship on your own, and growing up without encountering another human, and the book definitely captured both of these experiences. I absolutely loved the unexpected experience that this book delivered and definitely recommend picking it up.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks to Walker Books Australia for the review copy!
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$16.99 or from The Book Depository.