cover image To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

Christopher Paolini. Tor, $29.99 (880p) ISBN 978-1-250-76284-9

Bestselling YA author Paolini (Eragon) ventures into the realm of space opera with a satisfying, far-future epic that questions what it means to be human. Upon discovering evidence of alien life during a survey mission, xenobiologist Kira Navarez expects her career to skyrocket—but a single mistake has disastrous repercussions as an alien organism bonds to her body, forming a second skin. Political frustrations between Earth and its colonies across the galaxy brew in the background as Kira and the alien organism, which calls itself the Soft Blade, enter biocontainment aboard a United Military Command ship. As unfeeling doctors conduct invasive tests, a new species of aliens, dubbed Jellies, attack the ship, drawn by the Soft Blade. The quick-moving plot becomes somewhat formulaic as Kira is rescued by the Earth spaceship Wallfish and slowly finds her place among its misfit crew. Together, they follow clues from the dreams Kira shares with the Soft Blade to find a way to broker peace between humans and Jellies. Kira’s tedious inclination to wallow in guilt gives way to some satisfying character development as Paolini builds to a thrilling finale that more than makes up for the predictable midsection. The high-stakes quest and developing bonds of found family make for a fun epic grounded in an earnest exploration of human consciousness. (Sept.)