Review | The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams (The Universe After #1)

Good ideas, interesting characters, but a few too many battles for me. 4/5 stars.

The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.

The blurb: Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages.

Hot on her trail is the Pax – a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse.

Now Kamali, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers.

And that’s just the beginning…

My take:

Wow, but does this hit the ground running! The story starts as it means to go on, throwing us into the deep end of events without much explanation as to what’s happening or how the status quo came about. Not that we’re given time to ponder those questions anyway, as it’s pretty much all action from page one.

As you always hope for with sci-fi, the world-building is good and the characters are an interesting mix. The author makes the most of the intergalactic setting and gives us humans, aliens and AI either rubbing along or trying to blast each other out of the sky. I particularly like that the main character is a world-weary female soldier whose gender is irrelevant. What is relevant is that she’s extremely good at her job; her skills and knowledge are so central to her identity we don’t even find out her name until late in the book.

Unfortunately I eventually became weary of all the armed conflict. The book starts with a battle. Then there’s another. Then another. Then another. This is a war story and if you’re not interested in reading fight sequence after fight sequence then I’d give this a miss. I started to tire of them after a while even though the author does introduce variety into them. In this it reminded me of my experience of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, particularly as I got further into the trilogy. However I know other readers didn’t find this an issue and so I think would enjoy this book more than I did.

Overall: if you liked Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, or like war stories with a sci-fi twist, you should definitely check this out.

Claire Huston / Art and Soul



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