The Space Between the Stars is Anne Corlett's debut novel, combining dystopian sci-fi with a picaresque storyline, with a dose of romance and a touch of mystery added. There is a lot of eschatological table talk and a twisted thriller ending.
A virus has killed most of humanity across the known universe. Jamie wants to get back home to Earth. She meets up with various survivors: spaceship captain Callen and his sidekick Gracie, and ex-priest Lowry and burned-out scientist Rena, who both had been at a retreat center. Together they go on a journey across space, stopping at various posts to refuel, learning how survivors have organized after the apocalypse, and picking up Mila, born into the 'whore' class, and Finn, who is perhaps autistic.
We learn that before the virus Earth had become overpopulated. A way of classifying people by status involved tattooing people. Some people were sent off-planet, with a resistance group opting to join them.
Jamie, Callen, Lowry and Rena are all on the run from their pasts. Cramped together on the small space ship, there are a lot of conflicts and divisiveness. And some underlying sexual tension.
Rena was a scientist with fixated on understanding the 'will of God' behind all that has happened. As she spirals into a madness of her own making, and each survivor struggles to make sense of their lives, horrible secrets are revealed. Should--will--these misfits survive?
When everything is revealed at the end, I realized the novel was also a warning about genetic manipulation in an endeavor to 'improve' on Mother Nature out of a false fixation on perfection.
Nature is messy. But it is always right.
I received a free ebook from the publisher through First to Read.
Publication Date: June 2017