From Distant Stars by Sam Peters. Book Review

From Distant Stars by Sam Peters
Gollancz, ebook, 449pp, £8.99
Reviewed by martin willoughby

I’d read the previous book to this one, From Darkest Skies, and was looking forward to this.

I wasn’t disappointed, but neither was I thrilled.

Magenta is an Earth colony, created by kidnapping humans and dumping them on the planet with very little to help them survive. The kidnappers were an alien race who disappeared as quickly as they came, but left behind ships that would connect all the colonies and Earth.

It’s an intriguing, and well thought out, background which underwrites both novels and plays a major part in this one.

On Magenta they’ve found an alien spaceship, buried deep in the ice at the north pole. The race is on to find out what kind it is and how it got there.

While that ticks away in the background, people are being killed, seemingly at random. Keon and his team want to find out who’s doing the killing, why, and what connects them.

Rolling along beside this is the mystery of Keon’s dead wife, Alysha, and why she seems to be popping up in the net that connects the people of the planet.

The pace of the book doesn’t let up and you’ll find yourself reading it long past the time you promised to stop, even though it can be irritating at times.

While this is not a rehash of the previous book, it comes close, but my biggest bugbear with it is the characters. Both in this book and the previous one, not a single person is anything less than highly strung or permanently angry, and it does make it difficult to read, even though it’s well written. Frankly, it’s exhausting.

Even when they are having downtime, there is a sense that none of them know how to relax. That may be deliberate, but if so I hope the author turns it down a notch for the next book, which I am still looking forward to by the way.

The other problem I have is with their speech patterns. Because they are always angry or stressed, it is very difficult to tell who is speaking at any one time. The typeface is different when they communicate via their internal feeds, but it doesn’t stand out enough, and even then it’s difficult to tell who’s who.

Overall, this is a book that’s well worth reading. The unfolding story of the aliens is an interesting backdrop to it all, as is Keon’s unravelling of the circumstances behind his wife’s death.

The only thing it needs for the next one is a little bit of calmness now and then, especially when they go surfing or sit in a bar getting drunk.

Lighten it up.