15 September 2020

Review: To Sleep In A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

To Sleep In A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini book cover
* Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia *

I don't usually like books set in space. As a consequence, I rarely read books set in space. In fact, I can think of only three books set in space that I've thoroughly enjoyed.* So where do I get off picking up an epic science fiction novel set in space that comes in at an impressive 880 pages? What can I say? Christopher Paolini made me do it!

This year I finished the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini and when I learned To Sleep In A Sea of Stars was Paolini's first novel for adults, I requested an advance copy from the publisher immediately; such is my faith in his writing. I considered that if anyone could lure me into an interstellar battle to save humanity and hold my attention, it was Paolini. Thankfully I was right and I loved this chunkster!

Published today, To Sleep In A Sea of Stars kicks off very quickly with Xenobiologist Kira Navarez conducting a routine survey mission on a planet ahead of a planned colonisation. Kira finds an ancient alien relic and the action doesn't stop from that point on. There is always something happening with the only respite being when the crew are in cryo or recovering from their last skirmish.

I really enjoyed the pace and the character growth, and here's an example from Page 486:
Falconi: "So stop blaming yourself."
Kira: "I can't seem to help it."
Falconi: "Bullshit. The truth is you don't want to. It makes you feel good to blame yourself. You know why?"
Kira shook her head, mute.
Falconi: "Because it gives you a sense of control. The hardest lesson in life is learning to accept that there are some things we can't change."
The history and world building in the novel were very convincing and I enjoyed the introduction of different species and their back stories. My favourite character of the entire book was Itari and I adored the conversations between Kira and Itari. Thinking of them now brings a smile to my face.

Throughout the entire novel I was fully immersed in the world of battleships, cryo tubes, laser blasters, skinsuits, orbital rings, docking hubs and ship minds and I never felt like an impostor.

Travelling FTL (faster than light) didn't phase me, alien technology didn't confuse me and not once did I want to be 'spaced' out of the book. (That's when you're jettisoned out of an air lock to your inevitable death).

Since finishing the book, I've noticed that an enterprising Spotify user has created a playlist to listen to while reading the book. I've been enjoying it this week and it's fantastic. Just search for the book's title on Spotify to find the playlist.

Another thing I enjoyed about To Sleep In A Sea of Stars was the Afterword and Acknowledgements section where Paolini shares with the reader the way in which this novel came to life. The project ups and downs, multiple re-writes and detailed research over the course of many years, gave me an even greater appreciation for the depth and scope of the book, and respect for the author for not rushing it.

To Sleep In A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini is a whopping epic science fiction novel bursting with adventure and I loved it! It even gave me pause to re-consider my reading tastes when it comes to science fiction and space operas and you can't ask for more than that.

Highly recommended!

Carpe Librum!
My Rating:

* Those books are: The Martian by Andy Weir, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Available from Booktopia

Would you like to comment?

  1. It sounds wonderful! It's definitely on my to buy list. I hope I get to it one day soon.

    1. Thanks Veronica, I hope you get to it one day too :-)

  2. I just donated all of the books in the Inheritance series...unread. I just couldn't ever face them on account of the length and being fantasy. I only ever bought them because I felt they were something I 'should' read. Not sure how I'd go with epic sci-fi either. I like your enthusiasm though!

    1. I agree chunky books can be intimidating, but I'm happy to say I thoroughly enjoyed the Inheritance series and sometimes dipping our toe into another genre with a trusted favourite author can bring unexpected reading pleasure ;-)

    2. True! There are plenty of chunky ones on my shelf from favourite authors that I'm happy to read when they bring out another one. I guess I'm just more reluctant these days, with time pressures, to try something new that is so long from an author I've never read...despite the rave reviews!

  3. Oooh, I am going to order this one. Thanks!

    1. Fantastic!! That's great news Carole, and I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!