I can’t believe I haven’t seen any love for this on my timeline. You have all let me down and I will never forgive you. The only way to repair this huge failing of my book community is for me to evangelize about the wonders of this book to anyone who will listen. I will accept the burden of this solemn responsibility.
I’m not going to include the publisher synopsis here because it just doesn’t do the book justice. Besides, going in knowing nothing made the book so much more suspenseful for me.
The gist is this: Our hero is Romy Silvers. At 16, Romy is alone. On a spaceship. Some tragic events several years earlier left her parents dead, the ship empty, and Romy the new commander of the Infinity. Romy does have some contact with Earth, but the distance means messages take months to transmit back and forth.
When the ship arrives at its destination, Romy will be expected to lead the mission to colonize a new planet. But that won’t be for years and years. In the meantime, Romy has nothing to do but maintain the ship and self-soothe with fanfiction.
You’re going to have to take my word for it that all that makes sense in context.
I was intrigued by the premise, which is fascinating but seems pretty difficult to write. Lauren James takes this setting and shaves off all but the most necessary scientific detail. (If you’re looking for detailed science-fiction worldbuilding with all the bells and whistles, this won’t work for you. Read Andy Weir’s Artemis instead.) James trims down the book until there’s nothing else to focus on but Romy herself, setting the stage for a deep, empathetic character study.
That’s really what this is: a character study. How is Romy able to survive alone? Not physically–she has everything she needs. But mentally and emotionally. Why does she keep going? How does being alone change her? In these extraordinary circumstances, how does she see herself?
What we get is a surprisingly grounded, understandable character. James perfectly blends classic coming-of-age insecurities with more existential, I’m-alone-on-a-spaceship concerns. I was behind Romy 100%, through her victories and her many mistakes.
But don’t worry–there is a story here. I won’t spoil it for you, but there are changes on the horizon for Romy and several big twists in the plotline. This is not a stagnant character portrait–as the book goes on, the quiet psychological suspense gives way to a heart-pounding thriller.
I’d be remiss in not mentioning that I’m not wild about the last 15% or so of the story, but that’s because the specific choices just weren’t to my taste. The emotional arc develops in a surprising and satisfying way–this is a great story.