I’m a sucker for any book about space (and, as I’ve proven lately, for any book with the word ‘star’ or ‘stars’ in the title) but I genuinely was particularly excited to read Katie Khan’s HOLD BACK THE STARS when I spotted it on NetGalley. Like many, I went into it thinking it was YA… it turns out it’s not, strictly speaking, but as the author itself says it deals with the kind of themes that are relevant to YA readers (first love, commitment, choices) so could as easily be enjoyed by them as by an older demographic. I’d like to think that this kind of category-defying/crossover book might be a further step on the path to a more open view of books and readerships and who can enjoy what… but that’s probably a discussion for another day.
To return to the matter in hand, HOLD BACK THE STARS concerns the story of Max and Carys (girls with Welsh names in space is another thing I’m particularly keen on!). They are freefalling in space after a spacewalk gone wrong, with nobody to help them and certain death on the cards, with only ninety minutes of air. While this predicament unfurls we are told the story of their complicated relationship in flashback, through which we also gain insight into a future Planet Earth – its society, its rules, its philosophy – and the impact all of these have on the real people that live on it.
This is a richly detailed and expertly realised world, and I am fully aware of the the complexities of this kind of world-building, having just been neck-deep in it while writing my third book. It’s thoughtful and interesting while also, I felt, managing to raise debate-provoking questions about our own society and the decisions and directions currently being taken. The structure is fascinating, disorientating and very well executed, building suspense and taking VERY unexpected turns before bringing us into land. Like I said I think this is a book that could have a very broad appeal; it’s not easy to pigeonhole or label but I think that was one of the things I liked most about it. There are readers of many ages and demographic factors who will thoroughly enjoy this book, and I was most certainly one of them.
Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC.
More reviews on my blog http://kateling.co.uk/blog/