It was supposed to be a routine research mission on an uncolonized planet. But when xenobiologist Kira Navárez finds an alien relic beneath the surface of the world, the outcome transforms her forever and will alter the course of human history.
Her journey to discover the truth about the alien civilization will thrust her into the wonders and nightmares of first contact, epic space battles for the fate of humankind, and the farthest reaches of the galaxy.
I received a PARTIAL copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Disclaimer: The ARC received is a partial ARC and not the full book, a little under 45K words. The full book is listed at ~800 pages, so I estimate this to be about 1/4 of the book.
Eragon is quite a beloved childhood series for me, and so to hear that Christopher Paolini is returning with a brand new book, and sci-fi nonetheless, I was extremely excited! While I’ve heard the criticism for Eragon, I read those books so long ago that I have no real recollection of the actual story. As such, I would like to say I went in neutrally optimistic. Unfortunately, even with that mindset, I was disappointed.
My personal taste in sci-fi leans towards explorative and new, ideally with an aggressive amount of techno-babble. I like seeing authors explore not only new worlds, creatures, and technologies, but new societal norms and bounds, new cultures. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars gave me none of that. If I had one word to describe this book, it would be ‘generic’. If you threw every popular trope in mainstream Sci-Fi right now (questionably evil capitalist corporation, generic American-modeled space society, technologically advanced hivemind alien species, etc) into a blender and pulsed for two minutes, you would get this book. There was never a point where I thought to myself, ‘what an interesting concept, that’s really cool’. Perhaps this is due to having read majority #OwnVoices and books that reach outside of the Western sphere for worldbuilding inspiration for the past year, but returning now just seems so… boring. Uninspired. Generic.
For all that I was not excited, I do have to give Paolini credit where credit is due. While I didn’t find it exciting, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is extremely well executed. The prose flows well and quite illustrative. The worldbuilding is extremely fleshed out and in this ARC alone (for as long as it is), you get a very clear idea of the different factions in this universe. Kira, our MC, is probably the best part of this book. A xenobiologist who’s part of a team staking out potential new planets for colonization, I really liked her strength in character and how much she acted towards her own goals. Kira goes through a lot of shit pretty early on and her resolve was extremely impressive. I say all this.. and then the first thing Paolini has her do when she gets isolated on a ship for a month is masturbate. . So… mostly good, some bad.
Overall, I rate this book a 3/5. While the execution is excellent, I never found myself excited to keep reading. There was nothing new, nothing novel, that seemed to happen in this book. At best, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a well-executed bag of mainstream sci-fi tropes.
/r/Fantasy 2020 Bingo Squares:
- Novel Featuring Exploration
- Novel Published in 2020
- Big Dumb Object (hard mode)
Publisher: Tor Books