Published May 23, 2017 by Gallery Books
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
How about that cover? I was immediately drawn to it as well as the title and then when I read the blurb and saw it’s being compared to One Day, one of my very favorite reads, I knew I’d have to hit the request button on Netgalley. As you know if you’ve read even a few of my posts, I read a lot of mysteries and crime fiction so I thought this would be a good “out of my comfort zone pick,” and in some ways it was.
The beginning of the story pulled me in right away when we are thrust into space with Carys and Max after they’ve gotten separated from their ship and soon discover they only have 90 min of oxygen left. What a perfect way to start this story because I was glued to the pages, fascinated by the details of space as well as their attempts to find a way back to the ship.
The novel is structured in such a way that we are then taken back in time, via Carys and Max’s flashbacks, to the beginning of their relationship in futuristic Europia which is a utopian society that exists after the destruction of the United States and the Middle East following a nuclear war. I was definitely intrigued by the world building in this society where couples had to follow the Couples Rule meaning they were forbidden to have long term relationships or marry until the age of 35. This was reinforced by people living on Rotation in which every 3 years everyone would move or rotate their locations to a brand new district. Of course, when Carys and Max meet and fall in love, the rules and Rotation prove to be a huge struggle for them, especially since Max has a completely different set of beliefs than Carys. Along with the utopian world building, I also really enjoyed the technology and setting details of this futuristic world.
With alternating timeframes , however, what inevitably seems to happen for me is I’m more invested in either the past or the present and that’s exactly what happened in this case. I was much more interested in the space chapters and the intensity that came as their oxygen levels were decreasing and they continued to try to make it back to the ship. Plus, we get to know and hear from each of them NOW and this just made for better reading for me, rather than breaking to go back into the past. In addition, the further I got in the book, the more I found myself skimming the past chapters in order to get back to the action in space. While this was my favorite part of the story, there were still questions that nagged me….why were they both on the mission together when only Carys was actually an astronaut? Why did they seem woefully underprepared for such a large venture into space? Even suspending disbelief, I scratched my head over these.
Of course, I’m not giving spoilers away regarding the ending but what I will say is… it was very surprising and not what I expected, yet getting there was somewhat confusing. Sorry to be vague but if you read this I’d really love to chat about your thoughts regarding the ending! I think if you’re looking for an entertaining, quick read to enjoy while at the pool or the beach you should definitely give this a try. If you’re looking for an epic love story like One Day you might be disappointed. I didn’t find this to be similar to that book at all, unfortunately.
Many thanks to Gallery Books via Netgalley for my copy.