Just when thought I wouldn’t be reading many adult books this month, my lovely SO sealed my fate. As you might have found out in my Reading Blog for this book, where I detailed my reactions as I read it (non-spoiler); my SO is a huge fan of Christopher Paolini and begged me to try and get an eARC for us to read. Low and behold, my editor at The Nerd Daily came with the e-goods (love you Elise) and I was on a long ride to finish this thick 880-page adult science fiction novel that is part of a grand and brand new fictional world called the Fractalverse.
If you watch Daniel Greene, you may also have heard of this book, otherwise, you may recognise Christopher Paolini’s name because he is the author of The Inheritance Cycle (aka Eragon). I personally found Eragon to be pretty enjoyable but not a total favourite like it is to my SO. Nonetheless, I launched myself into this book blind and surprisingly enjoyed myself. Let’s get onto the review!
Note: this review was first published on The Nerd Daily.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a brand new epic novel from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Paolini.
Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.
Now she’s awakened a nightmare.
During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.
As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.
While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .
This novel was a wild ride from the start to the end. If you’re a fan of plot-driven books with lots of action, this is definitely it. So, in To Sleep In A Sea of Stars, we follow Kira, a xenobiologist who works on foreign planets analysing and collecting their biological flora and fauna. To her immense surprise, she ends up finding a massive discovery on the planet she’s currently on that changes her life. This crazy alien dust ends up being an alien lifeform that completely changes the universe as humans know it as more is uncovered as a result.
I know I’m being super vague but that’s because there are so many spoilers and so much to learn that you simply have to read it to find out! In general though, this book and Kira’s story is about her experience as she makes first contact with aliens. Throughout the book, this story really solidified the difference between science fiction and science fiction fantasy for me. I had never given it that much thought but what really makes this science fiction is that it is set in our world; a world where we have lived hundreds of years before and the characters we meet are living in a future that spans from now. Everything within this story is based on how humans expand their technology and reach to live on other planets and continue exploring; to find these other intelligent signs of life and aliens themselves.
First off, Paolini set up this world so well. I was entranced and needed to find out more about how Earth had changed and evolved as I kept reading. Technological advances are heavily involved in this book like travelling on ships by the speed of light and science-y goodness I can’t even begin to fully comprehend, that any science nerd will relish. The back of this book is also filled with scientific research papers and such, so Paolini put a lot of work and research and effort into this book and it really shows.
When it comes to the story itself, I really enjoyed it! Kira was a great protagonist that had an interesting character development. While I never really connected to her well, I admired her actions and her perseverance and she gets put through some very tough situations (many life or death instances) and manages to pull through believably. I never felt I was disliking or even seeing any particular trope, Kira could have definitely been put into a position where she was the Chosen One but the book also made it very clear that anyone could have found what she did and who knows how they would’ve reacted and where things could have gone from there. The highlight of this book was definitely the side characters, I loved learning more about them and having a great spaceship crew with banter and team chemistry. It increased the stakes as things got more dangerous and filled with action, and it added so much more depth to the story. These characters didn’t necessarily have a lot of character development per se, but I also felt like they didn’t need it either.
The best and worst part of this book is the pacing. First off, the plot was written so well in that I had no idea what was going to happen next. I was always on the edge of my figurative seat, not knowing what else Paolini would throw at me in these pages. However, this book was like a science fiction novel incorporating the pacing of a K-Drama. At least for the first half of this book, it was a bit crazy how things would go from 0 to 100 then back down to 0. There were many peaks and high action moments with insane plot twists then suddenly sections that slowed down dramatically. It made it a little hard to get into the book because the pacing wasn’t consistent nor had a specific end goal to the plot until 50-60% in when things really got going. That being said, it did manage to keep my attention and keep me reading because I wanted to get to the next part and find out what happens.
The pacing of this novel also made it apparent that this book is almost definitely 2 books in one. At 880 pages, Paolini could have easily cut it in half and sold it separately. The book was SO long, and with the decision to keep these 2 intertwined parts together, this novel could definitely have been cut down more. There were certainly parts of the book that bored me a little, but what I appreciated was that after the first perhaps 20-30%, Paolini’s writing style became a lot easier to read.
The first chunk of the book was naturally more content-heavy as we were thrown deep into this futuristic setting. His writing style was similar to Eragon (from what I can remember), and I didn’t spot any particular flaws except perhaps some action scenes that could’ve been written a little smoother at the beginning. What did strike me was the jarring writing style he sometimes switched to during visions/flashbacks. The style was so different and came off like he was trying to write in prose; with beautiful sentences and descriptions. Sure those excerpts added some flare but overall I wasn’t a fan of the change, it was too jarring for me but I understand its purpose as a whole for the story too.
Despite all of that, this book was really enjoyable but as an adult science fiction novel, it was also quite exhausting. As someone that usually reads YA, it took more effort to immerse myself in this story at the beginning but I found myself seriously hooked by midway and itching to finish it by 60%. Even YA readers would enjoy this spectacular tale, and the idea that this is just the first book in this world is exciting because there is so much more to learn and discover about it. Unfortunately, the ending wasn’t really totally my cup of tea. It was heartbreaking when one of my favourite characters didn’t do so well, and how the story itself concluded and alluded to more in this world, but it will be interesting to see what others think of the ending and theories for what is to come next. Highly recommended for science fiction lovers and even science fiction fantasy fans alike. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the next book in this Fractalverse.
To Sleep In A Sea of Stars was released yesterday! So if this sci-fi adventure sounds like your cup of tea, I’d love to hear what you think of it if you grab yourself a copy. This book was a beast but satisfying as hell to finish.
Until next time,