Review of It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Stu Jones
I received an advanced review copy of the book without knowing anything about the authors beforehand.
Immediately, I was not sure about the title. “It Takes Death to Reach a Star” brings to mind a corny line from a sci-fi movie, something a character says right as they press the button to enter hyperspace.
A few things you should know before reading this book, and I do think you should read it:
The chapters are very short. It is a relatively quick read due to the unrelenting pace and short sentences. It is told in the present tense, which makes it feel very contemporary, but may grate on some fans of “traditional” narration. The first person perspective has shifting narrators, indicated (thankfully) by the character’s name at the beginning of each brief chapter. There is heavy use of made-up terms, right off the bat, at a frequency of several per page, which takes some getting used to.
The dialogue is clipped, punchy, like if Elmore Leonard wrote a post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure. Lots of death in this thrilling fantasy world, and plenty of methodical world-building. The scenery is well-described, all in an off-world setting that leaves enough to the imagination not to feel forced. That is, the narration never slows down. The method of the rapid internal monologues, full of personality and pizazz, make for a steep learning curve but an interactive reading experience. It feels very vivid, and though the character banter can be a little abstruse, it never goes on for too long. There are always things happening, plots unfolding, and these writers are not the type to hold your hand along the way. Rather, the co-authors fling you headfirst into a new universe, part William Gibson, part Ann Leckie.
It is definitely worth the short amount of time it will take you to finish it, to bravely immerse yourself in the effective, technological drama of this novel.
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