The Space Between the Stars will take you on a journey of heart and faith. This isn’t your average “end of the world” type story. The human population wasn’t killed by a “zombie” virus, a war, or a normal apocalypse situation. The human population was almost wiped out from a flu-like virus that spread like wild fire. This story isn’t about people trying to survive because there are limited resources or because there are zombies or evil men trying to kill them. This story is about what’s left of the human population trying to decide whether they want to live alone, together, or exhaust themselves trying to rebuild the human race.
Though I feel like this book was well written, and the characters were well developed, I have mixed feelings about the message in the story line. I am a very open person and I respect religious freedom and the differences in others’ beliefs, but I feel annoyed when I find characters who stay strong in their faith in the end of the world type situations. In this story, 99% of the population died from a virus that was spread like the flu (i.e. close contact), and many cases of the virus were spread in situations where non-infected people went to comfort their infected loved ones. I feel like ALL the characters should have been focused on settling in an area and making a living for themselves, and instead, some of them were focused on what God’s plan was and trying to decide if they wanted to help the government repopulate the world. Though this point makes this book unique from other “end of the world” type books, it also irked my nerves a little. I could not relate to the faith aspect of the book, but I could relate to the human aspect.
Our main character, Jamie, spent the first few days of the story completely isolated and alone. She truly missed human contact and the touch of another, and yet also started to feel detachment from the world and what was left of the population. Throughout the story she struggles with her need for human interaction and her new-found admiration of the thought of making it on her own. Her struggle made her character feel real and relatable. I feel like I related to her better than the rest of the characters, especially in her disagreements with Rena.
Rena’s character was my least favorite. This is where the faith aspect came in the strongest. After everything that happened in the world and through all the struggles faced in the story, Rena holds on to her faith and claims that God chose to wipe out the human race in an effort to cleanse the world of the unworthy so the worthy could rebuild. We even find out some angering details about her life before the virus wiped out the human population and I came to hate her. Unfortunately, we had to put up with her character to be able to live with Lowry’s.
Lowry is a good man and a loveable character. He stayed with Rena long after it was time to leave her behind. He helped others every chance he got and he always seemed like he was there to listen to the others when needed. Though he was a man of faith from before the virus, he held the good, moral aspects of faith and those shined through until the end.
Callan and Grace were not as well developed as I would have liked. Though they were necessary to the story and added some interesting details, I feel like we could have learned more about their backgrounds. I am happy with the turn of events involving Callan though.
Finn was my favorite character. He represented innocence and held a lack of understanding of what was truly happening in the world around him. Though the author did not say it outright, I came to understand that he suffered from a form of autism because of his mood swings, his freak out moments when someone touched him, his unusual intelligence, and his admiration for puzzles. Finn possessed the ability to bring out the true human kindness in some of our characters (Jamie and Callan), to love unconditionally (Mila) and brought out the immoral, religious fanatic characteristic in Rena.
Mila was an interesting character. I struggled with how I felt about her because I wholeheartedly disapprove of what she was (a prostitute), and yet she had a good heart and was brave and intelligent. She took care of Finn until the rest of the crew found them and she showed a huge act of bravery later in the story, but she had no qualms about her profession and even stated that she would most likely not change her profession. She was definitely hated by Rena, and even though she had an immoral job, she carried more morals and heart than Rena.
The more I think about this book, the more I like it. I am unable to relate to Rena’s faith and the idea that people can still believe in a “good” higher being after the end of the world, but I can relate to wanting to carry the ideals of love, morals, and the human connection with me no matter what happens. This story shows the emotional response to the end of the world and the good that can still exist beyond that.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.