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Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she’s awakened a nightmare. During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.
As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.
While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope..
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini, narrated by Jennifer Hale.
Winner of Best Science Fiction in the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards.
When I saw the To Sleep in a Sea of Stars title, I wasn’t sure about tackling 880 pages. Then I saw that the book was narrated by Jennifer Hale and the fact that the narration is 32 hours and 30 minutes, mattered not one iota. Because I’ve played as Commander Shepard, in the Mass Effect games, more times than I will ever admit. I’m also familiar with Hale’s voice acting as Krem, in the Dragon Age Inquisition game. I jumped on board and proceeded to spend those hours of the audio version, walking and listening.
This is a long story with over 50 characters to be voiced. Jennifer did such a good job with the voices that I checked to see if there might have been additional narrators for some of them since I could not believe one person was doing all the voices. But it was all Jennifer and I’m going to miss her voice, now that the story is over.
I rarely talk about science fiction because I’ll get it wrong. I just enjoy good games and good books and the key to all the games and books that I enjoy is good characters. I need the characters to draw me in, I need to care about them, and I need them to not cause me to roll my eyes with their thoughts and actions. I was able to sink into this world and to care about Kira Navárez, a xenobiologist, who makes a mistake and changes herself and her life forever, changing the course of the world, introducing a nightmare that only she has the hope of stopping.
In the course of her job, Kira discovers an alien relic, gets overzealous while observing it, and from that moment on, Kira will never be just Kira. In fact, from this time on, she will always have to fight losing herself to this thing that becomes part of her. Before she can understand what is happening, catastrophe is unleashed, and that catastrophe ripples out from her, wrecking more havoc. There is no undoing what has been done but Kira is now the only one who can save “life”.
Despite the extremely heavy subject matter, there is humor, companionship, and everydayness in this story. I hope we can see more of this world someday. As I dealt with my emotions and thoughts from the story’s ending, I was so thankful that there was an appendix at the end of the book so that I could listen to definitions and terms from the story, many of them humorous and clever. And then we get to listen to Paolini and Hale discuss the book together and they give me hope that someday Hale will narrate another Paolini story.
Published September 15th, 2020
Thank you to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for this ARC.