“…this is the way things are. You know they can’t be any different. The only person you hurt by kicking against everything is you.”
‘It is that quick, it is that strong, it is that beautiful. And it is also totally impossible.’
Even though she knows it’s impossible, Seren longs to have the sunshine on her skin. It’s something she feels she needs to stay sane. But when you’re floating through space at thousands of kilometres an hour, sometimes you have to accept there are things you cannot change.
Except that the arrival of Dom in her life changes everything in ways she can barely comprehend. For a while he becomes the Sun for her; and she can’t help but stay in his orbit. Being with him flaunts every rule designed to keep their home in order, but to lose him would be like losing herself.
In the end they must decide what is most important: loyalty to the only home they’ve ever known, or to each other?
The Loneliness of Distant Beings is a space opera novel that tell the story of Seren, a teenager who lives in a spaceship called Ventura, along with a whole community who follows rules and protocols assigned to them. Their jobs are assigned according to their skills, their homes are assigned based on the location of their work, and their life partners are chosen by the system that ensure genetic diversity and continuation of the human race. Most of them just go with it, never question the system nor the order and the rules but not Seren, especially after she met and fall for a young man who isn’t her assigned life partner.
On its surface, The Loneliness of Distant Beings is an affecting romance, but beneath the romance is a story of society trying to survive in outer space with all the rules and regulations that keeping them intact.
Kate Ling descriptions of Ventura spaceship and the life aboard in it is vivid and easy to follow. The world development is pretty flowing and absorbing making the story and situation easily believable in-spite of the outer space settings. The space settings actually reminds me of the novel/TV series The 100, while the controlled society reminds me of dystopian novels such as The Giver and Divergent.
“Funny that you never believe what people tell you about fear until you feel it for yourself.”
Seren maybe hard-headed and stubborn but those qualities actually makes her stronger than other characters. Her stubbornness makes her brave enough to question the order and the rules that they insist to them. She’s the only one who think and act of going against the system and the people who run it in order to have the life she wants. Her plans are not perfect, but at least she tried to do something. Even at times when I think what she is doing is idiotic or unreasonable I still root for her.
Captain Kat as the villain is very effective on her role. She’s strong enough to make readers believe that she is capable of harming Seren and Dom which add tension to the plot. She’s also a complex character, because in-spite of all her villainy act, she actually believe that what she is doing is right. She’s a victim of a system – a system that she and other like her believes as the key to the survival of humanity. She is willing to sacrifice few in order to save majority of her people. Sometimes cruel and unfair but she actually think that what she is doing is for the benefits of the community.
“…sometimes life can seem unfair, but things are as they are for a reason.”
Then there’s Ezra, Captain Kat’s son and Seren’s fiancée. Though the story mainly focused on Seren and Dom’s relationship, Ezra actually play an integral part at the end of the book, which for me is a huge deal. I find his character more interesting than Dom and I wish there’s more of him and his background in the story. As a son of Captain Kat, with all the privileged and top level access he has, I’m sure Ezra has interesting stories to tell.
Overall, The Loneliness of Distant Beings is a well-structured, thought provoking, and easily accessible science-fiction novel. If you don’t mind reading the romance which basically out-weight the science-fiction part then I’m sure you will enjoy this space opera novel with its interesting world and interesting take on lack of free will and making choices.
* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Children’s Books UK in exchange of honest opinion.