Kira Navárez is a Xenobiologist – her job is to explore alien life on other worlds and she loves it but she dreams of making that once in a lifetime discovery that would change the way in which people look at the universe. Unfortunately, when she discovers an alien relic on the uncolonised planet of Adrasteia, she does just that. The black dust surrounding the relic begins to move and it will have devastating consequences for Kira, for her crew and for the Galaxy.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a mighty volume – at about 900 pages – and it tells Kira’s story in her own words. It’s an epic tale, full of tension, conflict, mystery and self-exploration as Kira learns to understand what it means to be a human when she is so intricately and intimately connected with another being. It’s fascinating watching her relationship with this new part of herself develop, just as it’s thrilling to witness the interactions of Kira and her crew aboard the Wallfish with two alien species – the Jellies and the Nightmares. These species are wonderfully described, especially the mysterious and curious Jellies.
I loved the Wallfish crew, especially Trig, but my favourite character, possibly in the whole book, is the ship’s mind Gregorovich who, its fair to say, is quite possibly insane and has an interesting turn of phrase.
I’m in two minds about To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. I love Kira – we get to know her so well and she is vividly and fully portrayed by the author. I also love the crew of the Wallfish and loved spending time with them. But this book is far too long, which dilutes everything that is so good about it. Too much time is spent on interludes that seem to offer little except to give Kira the chance to self-reflect. I enjoyed the development of Kira’s relationship with the Wallfish captain but there are some painfully slow scenes between them. But what kept me with it, quite apart from Kira, was the outstanding audiobook narration (all 32 hours of it) by Jennifer Hale. What a superb narrator! She brought Kira (and Gregorovitch) alive for me. I also really admire the author’s ambition and commitment to his characters. This book is clearly a labour of love and that shines throughout.