Released: June 13th 2017
First, please take a minute to look at this cover. I’m not going to lie to you, I bought this book because of the cover; didn’t even read the description first (a quick search on goodreads shows me that there’s more than one cover for this book, so please note the one alongside this review). It was just too pretty to resist. That being said, I absolutely love the premise of this book.
The book is described as being “breathtakingly vivid and emotionally gripping” and while I don’t disagree with that statement, it isn’t entirely accurate either. I personally found the Space Between the Stars to be almost a relaxing read – there were plenty of details that broke up and distanced the more distressing events throughout the novel; the end result being an almost serene reading book about a woman trying to discover what she wants with her life.
Jamie Allenby desperately wanted more space, for what, she couldn’t really say. She could claim it was this or that (or him), but that wasn’t all of it, not really. So she got as far as she could from earth, a small colony on the edge of their civilization. It turns out that her isolation probably saved her life. A horrible disease (I don’t believe it was ever actually given a name in the book) rips through humanity; killing all but a lucky (or not so lucky) few.
I should admit that between the book cover and the concept of the book, my expectations were raised pretty high. Maybe that wasn’t fair of me. But the end result was me being slightly disappointed in what was otherwise a decent book. I just can’t let go of how much potential it had though – I hope it’s a concept Corlett picks up again, I think she could really do something wonderful with it.
Corlett kept reminding us about the low survival rate for the disease – one in a million. The math/ratio is questioned a few times throughout, but the number itself is repeated; perhaps to remind us of all the suddenly empty space? I will say that while it was less graphic – having the bodies turn to dust felt like a bit of a cop-out to me. Yes, it makes it so there’s less “clean up” or health concerns for the surviving characters, but it also resulted in me question what sort of disease could possibly do that, which broke the immersion a little.
Considering the low number of survivors, one would think everything from then on would become a struggle. Yet Jamie finds other survivors (on a small planet) within three days of waking up. A couple days after that a survivor comes by on a spaceship and picks them all up. It’s just a bit too easy, too fast for me. I would have been content with more time being spent with Jamie alone, and then Jamie plus survivors alone on the planet. This trend continues when they get to the inner system, Daniel, the man Jamie left, is also one of the survivors, and he conveniently stayed on the station. Admittedly things don’t go too well with their reunion, but that’s neither here nor there.
I suspected the conclusion before it was revealed – that someone had intentionally created the disease that killed most of humanity (admittedly that hadn’t been its intended purpose, but mistakes happen apparently). Considering how devastating it was, I’m glad that Corlett chose to include a reason for it happening. It gave the novel a sense of closure, once things were resolved on that end.
I think what I enjoyed the most about this book was Jamie’s journey – yes, she was physically heading towards Earth the whole time, but that’s not what I mean. Right from the start the reader gets the sense that Jamie doesn’t know what she wants. She doesn’t know where she wants to be. She does, however, know what she doesn’t want (for example, Daniel), a fact that one of the characters accurately points out, by saying she’s just checking off what she doesn’t want until she finds what’s left. The forced isolation caused Jamie to actually take the time she needed to figure everything out, and appreciate what she did have left. To me, that’s where this book truly shined.