Stars and Bones – Gareth Powell

“The ship fled between the stars.

The fools have finally done it: launched the nukes and started the end of the human race. Except, 75 years later, humanity still exists out in the cold darkness of space, on a vast fleet of arks. How they got there is a discovery for the reader.

Eryn is a scout for the fleet, linked to her ship so they can travel the ‘substrate’ and check for dangers ahead. When her sister goes missing after answering an alien distress call, Eryn can’t even begin to imagine the horrors that await the entirety of the species.

So I absolutely thoroughly romped through this book. It has it all: action, suspense, danger, science, aliens, love, family, and a talking cat. And more! The only reason it’s not getting 10 out of 10 is that for all it gave me, I still wanted to linger further on so many of the aspects. That, however, would have spoiled the breakneck pace, and that wouldn’t do either. Dilemmas!

There is something entirely cinematic about the story. I could see several influences, but in a good way, and still feeling fresh. The action in particular is begging for an Aliens-esque visual, not to mention the horror aspects – not too shocking, but dark enough. And oh, how much fun the set designers could have, with each ark redesigned to match the personalities of both the AI and the population (in the millions, each ship) on board.

Alongside the ark fleet in space facing some serious bad sh*t, we get some flashbacks to explain what happened on planet Earth. It does mean early chapters jump around between characters a little more than is entirely flow-y, but they are clearly marked, and tie in well with the ongoing drama.

If anything, there was perhaps a little too much of things fitting together: event A sets up this bit of the denouement, that kind of thing. It’s almost like seeing a little of the scaffolding.

However, even with a tiny bit of that, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I’d absolutely love to read more of life on the different arks, or better yet see them on a big screen on day.

NetGalley eARC: 400 pages / 42 chapters
First published: 1st March 2022
Series: none? It’s subtitled ‘A Continuance novel’ so fingers crossed we’ll see more!
Read from 1st-27th February 2022

My rating: 9/10

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