Title: Hold Back the Stars (review copy)
Author: Katie Khan
Genre/Themes: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Romance
Blurb from Goodreads
After the catastrophic destruction of the Middle East and the United States, Europe has become a utopia and, every three years, the European population must rotate into different multicultural communities, living as individuals responsible for their own actions.
While living in this paradise, Max meets Carys and immediately feels a spark of attraction. He quickly realises, however, that Carys is someone he might want to stay with long-term, which is impossible in this new world.
As their relationship plays out, the connections between their time on Earth and their present dilemma in space become clear. When their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it?
An original and daring exploration of the impact of first love and how the choices we make can change the fate of everyone around us, this is an unforgettable read.
A man and a woman revisit memories of their love affair on a utopian Earth while they are trapped in the vast void of space with only ninety minutes of oxygen left.
Carys and Max have ninety minutes of air left. They are alone together. Drifting in space.
- Ninety minutes to stay alive.
- Ninety minutes to figure out how to rescue the themselves.
- Ninety minutes to reflect on the decisions that brought them to this point.
- Ninety minutes to decide if love is indeed all you need.
This book is set in a future version of our world where the USA and the Middle East have been decimated and Europe has become a utopian society called Europia. Citizens of Europia don’t come from anywhere anymore. Borders and cultural identities have been eroded and people move constantly. Living in one particular place for an extended period of time no longer occurs instead people move to a new location each ‘rotation’. Citizens no longer follow religions but either choose to have faith or no faith.
And most importantly for twenty-somethings Carys and Max, there is a Couples Rule which has been put in place to prevent young people from coupling up in their twenties. Long term relationships are only allowable later in their thirties. So what do you do when you meet “the one” before science and law says you are supposed to meet?
I was really entertained by this!
It was an interesting take on the time old classic of boy meets girl and can their love survive against the odds. There was just the right amount of world building in the background to make this feel futuristic. Admittedly it required the reader to take a few leaps of faith regarding the convenient veracity of certain truths but on the whole I very much enjoyed the sci-fi edge to this story.
I enjoyed the way the novel interspersed Carys and Max’s ninety minute countdown with flash backs recalling how they met, how their relationship developed etc. It was very nicely done and served to make this quite a poignant look at a young romantic relationship.
There were however some lovely moments of humour too and on the whole the storyline exuded a warmth that truly made me care about the outcome of the plot.
I liked both of the main characters although I felt that Carys’ personality was a little better developed than Max’s. I would maybe have liked a little more information and background detail for their friends and family whenever they were included in the flashbacks.
However, it could be argued that additional detail would have slowed down the pacing of this novel and for me, the pacing was pretty much perfect. Putting the main couple front and centre at all times with the focus on their relationship was something I enjoyed because this felt like a very fresh love story. I wasn’t bored for one second.
This was a book that I greedily raced through and was very much a page turner. An easy read but one that had a lot to say between the lines.
Recommended to fans of Speculative Fiction that focuses on human relationships
A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Doubleday / Transworld Publishers, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Published January 2017