Book Reviews

Across the Void by S.K. Vaughn

Released: June 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
Pages: 384
Rating: 3.5/5

*I was given an ARC of this from the publisher earlier in the year so my review is based on that version and not any changes that may have been made to the book in the last 6 months.*

May is the commander of the most monumental space flight in human history: the first manned expedition to Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Except something has gone terribly wrong.

On the return journey, she wakes up alone in a stasis chamber aboard her ship only to discover she’s lost her memory, her crew is missing, and her ship has suffered catastrophic failures. It immediately becomes an intense game of survival, not only against the vast void of space, but against foes a bit closer to home as

Sounds amazing doesn’t it? And for the most part it was, especially with our heroine being a woman of color. I was so excited to be given this ARC that I started reading it immediately.

The first half of the book reminded me of one of my more recent favourites, The Martian, so I was hooked right away. Plus the whole idea of a human trip to Europa is completely fascinating and sparks a lot of wonder in people like me who are enthralled with advancements in space travel. The dangerous beauty of our universe was really atmospheric, adding an incredible backdrop to this fast-paced survival story.

Luckily, she wasn’t completely alone as the ship’s AI survived the unknown disaster and became a valuable ally. May’s relationship with the ship’s AI became one I fell in love with. Her capacity to problem solve and persevere against overwhelming odds with her new AI sidekick really made me root for May. At first, she was someone you could sympathize with as she kept battling for survival in the harshest environment known to man.

Then toward the end of the book things got pretty complicated. There was so much going on and so many flashbacks to her pre-flight history that I began to get bogged down with it all. It suddenly became The Notebook 2: The Da Vinci Code in Space and felt really rushed, as if the author was trying to cram as many plots as possible into the remaining pages.

Her motivations and actions started to make absolutely no sense and all the events happening behind the scenes on Earth got very overwhelming, especially when people from her past started doing really absurd things. The science began to feel forced and completely made up, too. One of the reasons The Martian works so beautifully is because of its realistic dedication to science and the ingenuity of the characters involved. I reviewed a book recently that achieves this exploration of science much better than Across the Void‘s second half did. See that review here: Light From Other Stars by Erika Swyler

Also, even though the co-authors are anonymous, I’m assuming that they are white- and most likely male. If you’re going to have POC in your books, advertising, and media, for god’s sake have someone brown in the room with you when you’re writing. Maybe I’m wrong, but it didn’t feel like this was written (or co-written) by a person of color or woman.

Despite all the messiness at the end, I did enjoy the book. I think a lot of it the second half could have been left out because at its core this is an incredible story that is really well written.
The copy I received was a solid 3 but I will err on the side of 3.5-4 stars since this was an ARC. I’m really hopeful that by publication things were tidied up and worked on because this was a really promising premise.

Have any of you read the final publication? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


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