By Christopher Paolini
© 2020, Tor Books
Kindle version; file size 19201 KB
Xenobiologist Kira Navárez knows the rules. She knows why they are in place. When you discover an alien site, don’t disturb it. More importantly, don’t touch anything. So when she literally falls into a forgotten alien reliquary while searching for a downed drone, she knows what to do, and what not to do. For the first time ever, she breaks the “don’t touch” rule. What harm could it do, right?
Except the xeno on site is now awakened, and some things can’t be undone. From that moment on, events twist out of Kira’s control, spiraling further by the day from her planned future with her fiancé and into a reality she could never have foreseen. The threat of in interspecies war looms large, and Kira will have to master her Self—the old and the new—if she is to save humanity from the brink of annihilation.
This is a non-stop, action-packed, hard science fiction space opera complete with time lags in space travel, cryosleep, multiple worlds with branches of humans throughout the galaxy, and all the rest. It’s incredibly intense at times, so much so that I had to put it down for a while at the (more or less) mid-point crisis because I needed a bit of a break from the tension. There is not a single moment of boredom to be found in the pages of To Sleep. I loved the science woven throughout the story, though I admit to not understanding a good deal of it. (It sounded plausible to me!) There is, however, some back matter material to explain some of the scientific details, for those who crave that sort of thing.
Yet even while the book is a page-by-page thrill ride, it’s also very character-driven with a good deal of diversity. Kira and her shipmates aboard the Wallfish are a family whose members care for, support, defend, and occasionally argue with one another. All of them grow throughout the story, ending as deeper, more defined characters than they began. I did keep hoping for a love relationship between Kira and Falconi (even though I’m not much of a romance fan), and … well, I don’t want to spoil it. You’ll have to read it to find out whether they get together in the end.
While the main threads of To Sleep are tied up nicely, there is plenty of room for a sequel. Apparently, that will be coming later this year, so keep your eyes open.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is an excellent hard science fiction book with lots to love. Definitely recommended.