Happy Saturday, ya’ll! I am so excited to share my first science fiction review with you. I love the genre! I grew up on science fiction books, so they have a special place in my heart. This novel gets a Full Plate Mail rating from me (four out of five stars, see my post “Don’t Attack the Sundae,’ for the inspiration for my rating scale.)
I chose to read, “It Takes Death to Reach A Star,” based on the Van Gogh quote of the same topic. This book did not disappoint. It is classical science fiction. It makes you think, it makes you dream. It makes you excited. It terrifies you. It has you on the edge of your seat, and you can’t put it down.
The story takes place from the point of view of several characters: the lower class, Mila, who’s just trying to make a living; Dmitri, who’s trying to stop the demon in his head; and Vedmak, who’s the demon trying to break free. The description is so vivid and refined the reader can see the world the characters live in and the inhabitants as clear as if watching them on film. The plot is full of action and the dialogue is presented in a realistic fashion. The dystopian world of science fiction is well thought out and gives the reader a true sense of viewing the action from the speaker’s shoulder.
Like most science fiction, you need a working intelligence of the genre to fully enjoy the book. While the book could be enjoyed by anyone, there are broader themes which the reader could miss. The title carries the concept of the villainous plan in a subtle way. The idea of extra dimensions, where the lives of those passed exist, and the concept that it takes death to reach the plane, and the allusion to a black hole, is beautiful and brilliant. The classicism of the work also plays on the title of the starry world above where people are recycled, created, and improved to the point of near perfection, and the image of the lower class, living way below the perfect city, is an eerie portrayal which lingers with the reader.
The concept that some things never change is presented in a gritty, graphic, and wonderfully futuristic way. That society, even thousands of years from now, will always be what it is at it’s core, is a varied glimpse of what we as a people are at our core. The depictions of racism, religion, classicism, disease, war, addiction, and lust for power is carried through the novel like DNA. The great writers of science fiction scare us, because they show a future where science has developed, full of all the advances and wonders of the mind, as well as, the terrors of such amelioration. What happens when we have full control over genetic manipulation? What happens when we find a way to make ourselves near perfect? Great science fiction delves into the things we don’t want to talk about and forces us to face those topics. This book is a profound work which is so much more than the plot of a tale.
I have two constructive criticisms. First, there are words that are anachronistic and jar the reader out of the future presented. For instance, it is highly unlikely, that far in the future, the drug the main character takes, krokodil, will be in the same form or name as the street drug is called today. The authors do an excellent job of creating their own slang and terms for the novel, modern terms (like krokodil and the various modern racial slurs) seem out of place. Unfortunately, as a society now, and definitely in the one presented, surely their would be a change in etymology. Although, I recognize the argument that some words have such an impact, they survive thousands of years.
My second criticism is I believe the novel starts too slowly. In reading other reviews, I feel like the people who gave the novel low scores, did so because they didn’t stick with the novel. Despite it’s slow introduction of the main plot, it is well worth the read.
In fact, I believe the novel would make Isaac Asimov and Gene Roddenberry proud.
[Please note, in exchange for a free copy of the novel, I agreed to provide a HONEST review.]