Friday, May 13, 2022

Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchins: review

3/5 stars on Goodreads

Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchins

Under Fortunate Stars is a sci-fi novel set in the far future, far out there. Humanity is at war with an incomprehensible alien race, with the loss of humanity imminent. Except a hundred and fifty years later, there’s peace with the aliens, thanks to an unlikely crew of Jonah, the Fortunate Five.

The crew of Jonah have no idea what awaits them. They barely know each other. But then a space anomaly strands them and the crew of the science vessel that comes to their rescue tells them what they are expected to do. They don’t exactly believe it, but then again, neither do the people from the future believe these are their saviours.

The book has a decent core idea: how history is made and how it’s remembered are two different things. But I found the execution boring in how neatly everything fell in place. Everyone assumes when the two ships meet in the rift that Jonah is on its way to save the world, instead of arriving from a random point in time. It’s only a matter of getting Jonah where it needs to be.

Most of the book is spent on the science vessel trying to figure out how to get the ships out of the rift and the necessary people on Jonah to make the future happen as it should. The rest is spent recounting the pasts of the key characters, most of which wasn’t all that interestingor even necessary. It didn’t make a very interesting plot.

There was a twist at the end that the author had clearly aimed at. If it hadn’t been the goal, the plot might have been more interesting, as the author wouldn’t have needed to hide who ended on Jonah. There could’ve been a third time level, for example, where the Fortunate Five were negotiating the peace, adding depth to the narrative and balance to the past-heavy narrative.

The end was unnecessarily vague and abrupt. The reader at least should’ve been told what really happened, instead of leaving it to the imperfect historical accounts. We were robbed of proper character arcs and conclusion for the characters.

My biggest problem was, however, that I didn’t connect with the characters; it took me ages to tell Shaan and Una apart, for example. I liked Jereth well enough, and for him I would’ve liked that the author hadn’t copped out from writing a proper ending. Narrative was competent and the chapters were short, keeping the pace good. Pity it didnt lead anywhere.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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