Book Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
Author: Christopher Paolini
Published by: Tor Books, September 15th, 2020
Genre: Science Fiction
*I was lucky enough to both read and listen to this adventure. Thank you Netgalley & Macmillan for sending me the advanced audio production*
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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
This is a story about curiosity- my favorite kind.
I was so incredibly excited when I read that Christopher Paolini was writing a first contact novel. In general, I love stories about the exploration of the unknown, so the premise drew me in and I was thrilled to receive a copy.. but goodness was I unprepared for the size of the box. That brings me to a plus/minus depending on your perspective- this book could be used as a weapon, because it is a massive tome, at 880 pages.
This story covers heavy concepts. Paolini explores morality, forgiveness, autonomy vs shame and doubt, and debate around consequentialism, but also heavily focuses on interpersonal relationships between characters, individual bravery as a force for change, and (my personal favorite) the essential nature of pets when traveling in space. The found family is my favorite literary trope, and the bonds here did not disappoint. It was a joy to read about the devotion, compassion, and affection the core characters develop because the dynamics feel authentic and strike a good balance between banter and the type of conflict that demonstrates character development. Finally, technology is an important element of any Science Fiction, and the amount of research the author did is evident in the way the concepts are rendered and woven throughout, somehow managing to be informative without crossing over into info-dumping.
A couple of brief points that I didn't love: The ending was ambiguous, but I'm certain the argument could be made that the author is establishing the framework for a larger universe of stories. If so, I'll definitely pre-order the next volume! I would have also appreciated more page time for the "big bad" because the malevolent force present was terrifying.
Have you had the chance to read To Sleep in a Sea of Stars?
Let me know in the comments!