Title: Hold Back the Stars
Author: Katie Khan
Published: 26th January 2017
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Summary: Carys and Max have ninety minutes of air left. None of this was supposed to happen. But perhaps this doesn’t need to be the end… Adrift in space with nothing to hold on to but each other, Carys and Max can’t help but look back at the well-ordered world they have left behind – at the rules they couldn’t reconcile themselves to, and a life to which they might now never return. For in a world where love is banned, what happens when you find it?
*I recieved a free eARC of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Hold Back the Stars is a science-fiction, romance novel focusing on a couple, floating in space, with only 90 minutes worth of oxygen left to keep them alive. I was drawn in by the premise of this book (as well as the gorgeous cover), it sounded interesting but heartbreaking. And this book was both those thing. But, unfortunately, I felt unable to connect to the characters and fully engage with the story. Nevertheless, this was still a lovely book to read.
This story is set in a futuristic world, not too dissimilar from our own. Some countries have been destroyed and our characters live in a new country, Europia. Here, the characters go through ‘Rotation’ where every 3 years they move to a different location, so they’re unable to settle down, and they’re also not allowed to marry until they’re in the their 30s.
This makes things difficult for our two main characters, who are very much in love but are still going through Rotation. I found this concept really intriguing, and the world-building was definitely one of my favourite aspects of this novel. I feel that perhaps this society could’ve been explored more, to give a better background to the characters experiences. However, this didn’t take away from the story, as the world was realistic and easy to get your head around.
“There will always be broken people, no matter how well society works”
The main characters in this story are Carys and Max. Carys is a smart woman who’s training to be a pilot so she can fly into space and Max is a talented chef who believes in the laws of Europia. The two meet when Max is working in his family’s shop and they instantly hit it off. For some reason, I couldn’t connect to either of these characters. Neither the characters or their romance, stood out to me. Especially in the begin, as they seemed to become close very quickly. However, as the book went on, I did find myself warming to both Max and Carys, they got along well and they made each other laugh. I loved how they supported each other when they were stuck in space together, about to die.
This story switches between present day, when our characters are stuck in space, and the past, when they fell in love and how they ended up in their current situation. I did enjoy the flashbacks, it kept the plot flowing, but I think this might’ve been what made it difficult to connect to the characters. I also appreciated that there was some humour thrown into this book, especially when the two were in space. Although this book has a very sad premise, the small jokes here and there helped lighten the mood.
Some parts of this story were slow, with the story more focused on the romance than the sci-fi elements. But the ending was so unexpected that it redeemed a lot of the issues I had with the first part of the story. Even though it took me a while to get my head around what had happened, it made things a lot more interesting.
Overall, I did like this book. I think this book is definitely more suited to the romance lover, as it has a cute but upsetting romance story. The setting was well thought out and believable but it could’ve done with more fleshed out characters.