I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher on NetGalley. This does not affect the content of this review, which is, as ever, my honest opinion. If you’d like to read my review policy, click here!
Even though she knows it’s impossible, Seren longs to have the sunshine on her skin. It’s something she feels she needs to stay sane. But when you’re floating through space at thousands of kilometres an hour, sometimes you have to accept there are things you cannot change.
Except that the arrival of Dom in her life changes everything in ways she can barely comprehend. For a while he becomes the Sun for her; and she can’t help but stay in his orbit. Being with him flaunts every rule designed to keep their home in order, but to lose him would be like losing herself.
In the end they must decide what is most important: loyalty to the only home they’ve ever known, or to each other?
I nabbed this ARC on NetGalley because I absolutely loved the premise. A UKYA dystopia novel set on a spaceship called Ventura, with the added bonus of a forbidden romance? Count me in.
I really loved the setting of the book. A futuristic ship hurtling through deepest, darkest space with suffocating societal rules is an intimate setting that is absolutely begging to be filled with dynamic characters with something to say about their world. In laying the foundations of this story, Kate Ling does a good job, including some complex aspects such as a compulsory ‘breeding program’ and arranged marriage unions which exist to maintain the population of the ship while it continues its mission. The writing was good for the most part, with some nice quotes about society, duty, freedom and where the hell we all fit in.
Unfortunately, this is kind of where the good stuff ends for me.
Sixteen year old Seren Hemple, our protagonist, started the book as a readable character: snarky and sarcastic, with a hinted-at mental health condition and a tangible desperation for freedom. Her arranged life partner, Ezra Lomax, was probably the only other interesting character. I wanted to know more about him and his family, and I found his growth more transformative than that of Seren herself, who seemed to regress after her love interest was introduced.
Our male romantic lead comes in the form of the seemingly perfect Dom, who is the catalyst for the halting of any and all further world building and character development. Don’t get me wrong, I like an absorbing romance as much as the next YA fan, but this one had zero gravitational pull (Ha, look at me, making space jokes). I love the depth and feeling that a well-written relationship can bring to both characters and story, but believable romances take time to build and the one between Dom and Seren happened almost immediately.
I wanted so much more from the author: more nuanced characters, more background about what happened to Seren’s mother, more detail about the mysterious recon missions to Huxley-3, more societal satire: just more. Books like The Hunger Games and the Chaos Walking trilogy show that complex world building, character development and romance can and do sit happily side by side, but unfortunately this book can’t quite fit it all in.
I can’t say very much about how the book ends without ruining it for you lot, and I’m still trying to work out whether I liked it or not. One thing is certain though: it definitely leaves the author with the option of turning the book into a double act, and despite a lukewarm review, I would be interested in reading it to see if any of the more impactful themes can be built on.
On the whole, a decent read with some involving detail, but nothing intergalactic. Sad face.
- Author: Kate Ling
- Release Date: May 2016
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hatchette Children’s Group)
- Pages: 320
- Rating: 2.5/5
- In three words: Instalove in space.