Genre: Light Sci-Fi? Romance?
Queer Rep: None. I bought it for the genre and because I sometimes get down with the hets
A virus sweeps through the galaxy and decimates the population. With the tiniest fraction of human life remaining, Jamie Allenby must find a way off world and toward the distorted message she received on her communication device. She finds herself in a group of lost and varied souls, and their ideals and destinations clash.
This soft sci-fi, supposedly character driven novel called to me from the shelves of Barnes and Noble. I’m a sucker for character driven stuff, and knowing this was the author’s debut novel made me all the more interested. What were my peers writing? How was my beloved genre being handled by major publishers? I bought it, and was excited to read.
That excitement was forcibly drained from me with each chapter.
This novel had such promise. The population has been almost wiped out, individuals clamor for change or cling to the old ways, people who might have never met are now forced together. The thing is, so many of these opportunities are missed.
Anne Corlett has a way with words. Her prose is gorgeous, often perfectly balanced, with wonderful descriptors. Each individual sentence is easy to read, but the book was not.
The book grabs your attention with the first chapter, but proceeds to aimlessly drag you through gravel. Jamie spends ample time thinking about how unhappy she was with her last partner, but the moment she thinks he might be alive, she decides to use all means necessary to find him.
Fine. She’s alone, I get it. It’s scary.
But her “by all means necessary” boils down to a lot of luck and circumstance, where she runs into some other people. More luck and circumstance find them a pilot who touches down for fuel, and he shoots them back into space. They end up picking up two more people—there’s a lot of meandering at this point, and the book feels wholly unfocused—and so the crew has some weight. The thing is, almost none of them are likable.
Including the main character.
The reader gets a lot of italicized backstory on Jamie throughout this process, and you learn that this chick has baggage. I mean, the author must have sat down and thought “how can I make this character as vaguely damaged as possible without violent trauma?”
But neither the author nor the character benefit from this dense backstory. Jamie is insufferable. She is constantly complaining, whining, and losing her composure. And why? The dumbest reasons. Nothing was relatable here. The character even thinks to herself “wow, I’m being a bitch for no reason”, and then continues to act exactly the same. This was especially infuriating. If you realize you’re acting childish and ridiculous, STOP. CHANGE. MAKE ME LIKE YOU.
I kind of liked her romantic interest—if you could call it that—but she didn’t deserve him. He was a good dude, just trying his best. She was an asshole.
Honestly, it all goes downhill from here. The plot never really steels itself, we don’t know what their plans are from moment to moment or why we should care about those plans, and the romance was so hot-cold and nonsensical I wondered if there was a romance at all. In reality, I finished it out of spite. I paid good money for the hardcover and gosh darn it I was going to try and figure out why some people liked this book.
The end had an interesting twist, but they employed it so late in the novel that none of it really mattered anymore. If that twist had been revealed earlier, or even became the center conflict, I think it could have carried itself much better. There was an idea here, but no execution.
That being said, there must be people who are interested in this type of story. If you want a very inward focused journey with highly flawed characters who may or may not be awful, you can buy it on Amazon.
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