Life finds a way, they say. Well, maybe life went too far. A dying star always shines brightest.
Thomas fights to beat cancer. Colette fights to save the human race.
A colonial miner crippled with debt, Thomas must flee his home to cure his recurring cancer. With his health declining at an alarming rate, his options are limited. Spend his last days surrounded by his loved ones or leave them behind for a slim chance to live. The choice is impossible, the prospect grim, and not for him alone.
A pragmatic military hero, Colette enrolls in a mission to thwart an alien invasion. She always gets the job done… unless Mia’s involved. She must then put her feelings aside as always or risk jeopardizing her assignment for the woman she once loved.
Two battles. Two realities. For one to succeed, the other must fail.
The Stars Within by Alex Arch is an emotional and gripping read from start to finish.
This is a standalone story, told from the point of view of two characters who are fighting distinct battles, but both fuelled by a desperate will to survive.
Thomas is a down-on-his-luck miner, who is fighting to make a better life for his family. Diagnosed with cancer, his world is thrown into turmoil. The relationships between Thomas, his wife, and his friends are filled with warmth and love, showing the best of humanity. I particularly loved how the male friendships are portrayed by the author.
The other main POV character is Colette, a former military hero who is brought back to carry out an impossibly difficult mission, to save humanity from annihilation from an alien threat. The action and relationship between Colette and her crew is also great, especially her relationship with Mia and how this impacts the mission and her decisions.
At its core this is a very human story – a battle and will to survive; to protect the people we love at all cost. The plot is driven along through the perilous circumstances of the two main characters, whose stories run parallel to one another. The pacing is perfect. With short chapters, dove-tailing between the two POVs, they get much snappier as the intensity and jeopardy increases towards the end.
And then there’s the ending. I absolutely loved how the author brought the parallel stories together. The ending left me with so many questions, the kind you want to have from good science fiction stories – philosophical questions about, life, purpose, reality, and how we impact the world and people we interact with.
I enjoyed this story so much. For me, science-fiction is about exploring the many aspects of our existence and what makes us human. This book is an excellent example of that.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review.
Disclaimer: This book is not to be confused with a recent Escapist Book Tour for Lena Alison Knight‘s Space Opera/Military Sci-Fi novel The Stars Within (The Gift of the Stars #1).