**3.5-stars rounded up**
The Deep Sky is a recently-released SF-Thriller debut from Yume Kitasei. This story features a deep space mission where a lethal explosion causes the survivors to question the loyalty of their fellow crew members.
We follow Asuka, one of the crew and sole surviving witness to the explosion that killed three mission members and knocked their ship, The Phoenix, off course.
The set-up was interesting and scarily plausible. With Earth on the brink of an planet-altering environmental disaster, the countries of the world nominate individuals to compete for a spot on a humanity-saving mission.
As with any interstellar mission, space is limited. Asuka is selected as a contender to represent her mother’s native-Japan. Although not initially chosen, Asuka earns a spot as an alternate due to unforeseen circumstances.
Because of this, Asuka can’t help but feel like an outsider.
When the explosion happens, and Asuka is nearby and survives, she becomes a bit of a suspect in the eyes of some of the other crew members.
Asuka feels like she needs to get to the bottom of what caused the explosion. She can clear her name and find out what is actually going on with the rest of the crew. Thus, a mystery twist unfolds.
This was really good actually. I was a bit on the fence at first. The story wasn’t fully able to capture my attention until around the halfway mark. I was very pleased that Kitasei was eventually able to pull me in through the intensity of the storyline and completely pulled it off in the end.
The story is quite thoughtfully-written and the SF-elements provided plenty of interesting possibilities for our future. This would make a great one to discuss with friends, a book club, or other SF-readers in general.
I did feel like the idea of the mission, the way it was initiated was well-developed and thought out. I feel like when you are writing something futuristic like this, you can really go anywhere with it. Kitasei’s take was creative and frankly, believable in a frightening way.
The aspects of this that didn’t work as well for me were the story construction, especially in the beginning, and some of the character work.
The narrative jumps around from present to the past frequently and I felt like, for me, those transitions weren’t smooth enough. They were quite jarring and I kept feeling out of touch with what was happening because of it. Additionally, as far as the characters go, I had a hard time remembering anyone besides our main, Asuka.
None of them felt distinct to me like Asuka did. In spite of that though, I still appreciate what the author developed here. I think this story shows a lot of great creativity and thoughtfulness about the potential future of humanity.
Overall, I was impressed with this as a debut story. It’s complex, multifaceted and thought-provoking. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I would definitely recommend the audio version. The narration fit the story very well.