Monday, 3 February 2014
Review: Beyond Our Stars by Marie Langager
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Released: December 19th, 2013
Fleeing a destroyed Earth, seventeen-year-old orphan Hope grew up living in the confines of a spaceship heading to CR-3, a new home planet. She's been kicking the steel walls for too long and ever since she broke her boyfriend's heart, touchdown could mean open air and a fresh start. But no one expected the Locals. Hope’s dreams of freedom turn into nightmares when the Locals trap the humans and mark groups for observation. At any moment she can be called into a holographic observation room for testing. Some days she’s drowning in a strange dark ocean, some days she’s locked up without food, and all with the one boy she can't seem to forget. As the Locals study Hope, she studies them. She wants to believe the tall grey creatures could be peaceful, but as the simulations become more dangerous, Hope is about to become the human race’s last chance for survival.
I don't read a lot of YA sci-fi because there doesn't seem to be that much of it. There's lots of fantasy, but not an over abundance of books about aliens and other planets. When I do find one, I get pretty excited, I'll admit. Beyond Our Stars is one of Bloomsbury Spark's seven launch titles, and is yet another great, involving read. This imprint is truly fantastic, and I hope there'll be many more eBook releases to come!
This story starts off quite confusing. We're plunged into a whole new world from the first chapter, where things are radically different and initially hard to follow. Earth has previously been destroyed, and the last remaining humans all headed to a new planet, CR-3. They find the planet already inhabited, and the aliens who live there test the humans in simulation rooms. It's like a video game, but it all seems very real and it's all done so the aliens can get a better understanding of the humans. Once past the first couple of chapters, things started to fall into place and make sense and I was soon hooked right until the end!
Hope and her group of specs, as they're called, are one of the four test groups forced into the observation rooms and made to survive the simulations. She, like many of the other humans, is an orphan, her parents killed as Earth entered its final days. She's a strong character, fit to lead and one of the only people with the belief that the aliens are capable of peace. She has an on-again off-again relationship with boyfriend Chance, and forms friendships with other specs from her group, in particular Weeks and Grim. Together they form a tight-knit unit that believes in survival, trust and peace and, as the simulations get more horrific, they become the anchor for the remainder of the human race.
This is an intricate story that sometimes suffers from the sheer amount of world building involved. There's so much to remember and take in that occasionally I was left confused. Information about Earth's demise is littered throughout the novel, with little strips of detail here and there. Eventually there's a whole picture, and that picture is terrifying to a thinker like me. I have no doubt that something like this happening to Earth in the future is entirely possible, and reading books like this further cements that belief. I just hope it's not in my lifetime!
Beyond Our Stars is an ambitious sci-fi tale that I thoroughly enjoyed. I raced through it and am now itching to get my hands on more YA sci-fi (and to read the remaining Bloomsbury Spark books!). I liked the whole premise, from the space travel to the presence of aliens, and I think there could well be a sequel. If there ever is, you can count on me to be reading it!