Source: NetGalley, many many thanks to the publisher!
TL;DR: A short action sci-fi novella that I really wish was a full length novel
Plot: Monsters are on board and the crew must save themselves! It was a bit overcomplicated, but enjoyable.
Characters: There were very few characters that we got to know besides our main character honestly.
Setting: Pretty believable, I actually super enjoyed the setting for most of this. It felt very Star Trek.
Magic: There is some magic (not going to specify) which was odd and weirdly placed. The Science Fiction aspects were interesting and felt as genuine as you can get in 176 pages.
The Scourge Between Stars is a short, action packed sci-fi novella about a generation ship fleeing from one home to another while facing a mysterious threat on board. Our main character, the acting captain of the ship, Jacklyn is forced time and time again to make hard decisions to save the crew she can as monsters become real.
This sounded fantastic to me and I was super hyped for this, to only feel more than a little let down. My major issue with this story was simply the length. This clocks in at less than 200 pages and this ultimately affects everything in the story. From the characters, to the setting, to the scifi/magic elements and even the possible themes that could have been explored.
The only character we get any real depth too is Jacklyn as we’re getting her inner feelings and emotions. She has connections and deep ties to characters – for example the Security head on the ship. We are told in a series of three lines or so that this individual was crucial to helping Jack grow up and trained her. Yet when something happens that affects that individual we are left feeling… nothing. It’s off page and as I don’t even recall the body being viewed. This sums up pretty much all the other characters besides Watson, a droid that Jacklyn is forced into working with.
Watson was another character I wanted so much more from. There is implied abuse with Watson and their creator, they seem to be more ‘alive’ and intelligent than any other droid on the system. Yet they’re reduced to effectively a Monster Radar and ultimately a walkie-talkie.
There is so much I wished we could have seen explored more here. From the idea behind the monsters that ran amuck in the ship, to the weird and unexplained resolution to the story. The story of the ship’s flight from their home world and how it had deteriorated over time would have been just as good, especially had it led up to the point of this novella. Instead everything feels dropped, a ship full of empty promises and a short action scene that left me frustrated more than excited.
Ultimately it wasn’t a bad story – in fact I’d happily pick up anything that Ness Brown puts out that’s a full length. I loved the premise of this but nothing felt truly resolved and the story seemed cut off abruptly. Go in knowing it’s short and with little besides the action and you’ll likely enjoy it.
3 out of 5 Floating Space Monsters
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