Jamie Allenby leaves Earth and her long-term boyfriend to live on a frontier world with plenty of space. Then the virus hits, and she finds herself completely alone, with only dust and memories. The survival probability statistics are zero point zero zero zero one, and when she receives a garbled message from Earth, she reconsiders her feelings of her boyfriend and family in the wake of humanity’s disaster. Together with a few other survivors, she travels home for the promise of a new beginning on Earth.

The Space Between the Stars is a poetic introspective journey that happens to take place against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic voyage through the vastness of space. Jamie’s emotional arc is the heart of the story, and when she finds a balance between too little space and too much space, seeking a home and finding one, the personal journey is quite fulfilling. The backdrop of humanity’s collapse simplifies need and desire, allowing ordinary people to find meaning in their own tiny lives.

Unfortunately, the personal journey is too familiar, and the plot that supports it too convenient. I do enjoy the slow reveal of Jamie’s family history, but her wafting feelings for her previous lover are tedious. She doesn’t even really make up her own mind about him, until his strong actions make it clear what the decision should be. To that end, Jamie is excessively moody and broody throughout the entire novel, with an occasional pang of guilt for her high social station, so she’s not all that pleasant a protagonist.

Recommended for fans of literary fiction who don’t mind a few science fiction elements on the side.

Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing for a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

“Home’s what’s left over when you’ve figured out all the places you don’t want to be. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? But that’s what we do. We say not there and not there and not there, until there’s only one place left.”