With a mix of romance and science-fiction, Hold Back The Stars had all the potential to be an unforgettable story. An original plot, a clock ticking and two characters on the verge of the end of their lives: tension, chemistry and lots of feelings were promised by this book’s synopsis. Unfortunately, if it was an interesting story, it lacked this little something more to be the hit I expected it to be.
AN INTERESTING WORLD, BUT LACKING A BIT OF DEVELOPMENT
“The thing about first love, Cari, is that it breaks you. It changes everything about who you are for the next person.”
Carys and Max are stranded in space and their oxygen supply promises them only 90 minutes of air left before the end. Secluded, surrounded by stars and each other, all they can do is reminisce on the beginning of their relationship, what brought them here and how to get out of this crazy situation. Told between flashbacks and the present, we follow their story and see their relationship change, evolve in a world that’s not supposed to have them fall in love in the first place.
Hold Back The Stars starts off, just like its synopsis, on a very promising note: we get to discover Max and Carys, two twenty-years-old something living in a dystopian world where the United States and the Middle East have been destroyed in a nuclear war, and Europe has become this utopia where people living in peace, following the rules they are given, moving every few year to another country, speaking a dozen languages and everything. In appearance what seems to be a perfect world, clearly isn’t, because no one settles in love until they are ready to have a family and everything that goes with it, around their 30’s. That’s Max and Carys’ problem: they met when they were twenty years-old, and they can’t be together because of this couple’s rule.
That’s, in a short note, what the world is shaped like in Hold Back The Stars. If that idea of a perfect world, in appearance, is very interesting, I found that it lacked a bit of something to make me really engrossed into it. I followed the characters, their journey and their story into this new world, getting into the new ways of transportation, communication and everything else with no questions asked ; yet I think that everything maybe felt a little bit too simplistic. I wanted to ask questions, I wanted to know why they communicated that way, I wanted to know a bit more about the hierarchy of this world and how everything worked: on that side, if everything was so very interesting and well thought of, I felt like I needed more to satisfy my hunger here.
The way the story was told, however, kept me guessing and turning the pages as quickly as I could. The flashbacks, allowing us to get into the roots of the characters’ relationships and feelings, struggles and lives before they got into this place, stranded in space, were very interesting to follow and allowed a good insight into the characters we deal with here. If I got a good sight of what Carys and Max were both like, I had a little bit of a hard time actually connecting to the characters – if I cared for them a great deal and obviously wanted them to both be okay, I actually wanted to feel the emotions so much that I would have cried – I know, I might be crazy?! -, yet I did not feel as much. I felt a pang of sadness, I fell things while I read, but I did not really get invested in the characters, their relationship and their destiny as much as I wished I could have.
KEEPS YOU GUESSING UNTIL THE VERY END
If there’s something that made this book interesting and kind of stand out, it’s the endings. With an S. Since I’m always trying to write spoiler free reviews, I’m not going to say anything about it – Hold Back The Stars keeps you guessing until the very end, which was a very strong suit in the story. It messed with my mind and made me frown multiple times, questioned what was really happening until the very last page. If you’re looking for something suspenseful, then this is definitely it.
In a nutshell, Hold Back The Stars is a promising mix between romance and sci-fi, that unfortunately for me failed at convincing me completely in both departments. That being said, it still was an entertaining read and one that kept me guessing until the very end. If you’re intrigued by this premise, I would recommend this book for sure – who knows, you might fall in love with it.
Final rating: 3 drops!
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, affect my opinion on it.
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Katie Khan, Hold Back The Stars, Published by Gallery Books, May 23rd 2017.
Trapped in the vast void of space, Carys and Max have only ninety minutes of oxygen left to live. None of this was supposed to happen. After a freak accident, Carys and Max are left adrift in space with nothing to hold onto but each other. As they fall, they can’t help but look back at the world they left behind. A world whose rules they couldn’t submit to, a place where they never really belonged; a home they’re determined to get back to because they’ve come too far to lose each other now. While their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it?
In this startling and evocative novel harkening to both One Day and Gravity, Hold Back the Stars shows how the choices we make can change the fate of everyone around us.