First of all, I know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but just look at how beautiful it is! Sparkly gold with a spot UV; so, so pretty! Unfortunately I read this on Kindle (the one downside of eBooks is that they don’t satisfy my love for beautiful book covers) but I’m going to buy an actual physical copy as i’m not sure I can resist it and really want it on my bookshelf.
Carys and Max are stranded in space with only 90 minutes of air left, we don’t know how they came to find themselves in space or how they became stranded but via flashbacks the story is slowly revealed. Hold Back The Stars is a Science Fiction/Romance novel mash up of sorts. Set in a future where the USA and Middle East have annihilated each other in a Nuclear War (I know, very prescient), Europe has formed a Utopia named Europia (see what she did there?) a democracy where people spend around 3 years in one place and are then rotated elsewhere to work for the greater good. Romantic relationships are not allowed until after the age of 35 by which time the theory is that you would’ve contributed enough to society to be able to marry and procreate. Carys and Max are both happy with this rule until they meet and fall in love and they begin to doubt their world.
Their story and the trials and tribulations they face, even though the book is set in a fictional world, are realistic. The tale of two people who shouldn’t be together falling in love isn’t a new one, but Katie Khan makes it interesting and new. I really liked the way the book jumped between their current predicament of tumbling through space floating further and further away from their space ship and their history and how they came to be stranded. Lots of the technology used in the book wasn’t too dissimilar to our current technology just slightly more advanced; MindShare for instance was a glorious troll free, less sweary version of Twitter.
This book really packs a punch; weirdly the bits where they are floating in space watching their Oxygen run out aren’t the most difficult or upsetting to read. Those sections come from nowhere when we discover that even in a perfect world traumatic, heartbreaking events can occur. Carys and Max’s bickering even when facing imminent death was true to life (this would totally be me and my husband) and their love and resilience was heart warming.
The themes of this novel; politics, war, democracy, the power of people, socio and economic equality are so very current (I finished this book as Trump was being sworn in) that it really felt like I was reading our near future. Also, I don’t think I’ve read a book with an ending like this before, I won’t spoil it, obviously, but it did make me think and I’ve been mulling it over for the past few days as it was so beautifully done.
Thankyou to Doubleday and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Hold Back The Stars is released on 26th January and can be pre-ordered here.
Read: 16th January – 20th January 2017
Rating: 4 stars