Updated: May 21
Author: C. E. Stone
Publisher: Knight Star Publishing
Genre(s): Space Opera, Sci-Fi, Religious
Print Length: 276 Pages
Release Date: June 19, 2021
Available In: eBook, Print
Available On: Goodreads, Amazon
Thank you, C. E. Stone, for sending me a copy of your book for review!
The end of Earth was their beginning. When an alien gunship shatters their lives forever, a prophetess and a newlywed are hurled to a distant galaxy. Crash-landing on an alien world, they face a dwindling water supply and pursuit by the master of the gunship. Yet the discovery of eight mysterious orbs may prove their salvation. It could also change the destiny of galaxies.
While Star Wars is probably considered the King Kong of space operas, it’s far from the only space opera. C.E. Stone’s book Starganauts for example hopes to make its mark as well in this extremely specific Sci-Fi genre. Its atmosphere feels more like Star Trek than Star Wars, though, yet its beginning is very Star Wars-esque. An alien gunship blasts earth to kingdom come, and our main cast must survive on a spaceship, setting a very dramatic and serious tone. Now, despite its grim beginning, Stone’s intergalactic tale held a lot of promise. The mere presence of her prophetess character, Samantha, invoked a spiritual level to this Trekkie-style story that added something reminiscent to Star Wars yet better. Its spirituality possessed a clear Biblical base instead of the Force’s New-Age stylings. I personally appreciated that. Unfortunately, this same strength became a major weakness in the following chapters, and the book’s habit of ‘telling’ me the story rather than ‘showing’ me the story did some of its positive parts a disservice.
You see, as soon as the survivors’ ship crash landed on a desert planet (think Tatooine but duller), the story’s pacing grounded to a halt. Okay. It’s not quite a halt. More like it started running in circles. The events in the characters’ search for water seemed to play on repeat. Sure, it’s an understandable goal, but when the attempts take up two thirds of the book with little variation, it got really old really fast. This repetitiveness goes for its ‘preaching’ too. Now, as a Christian, I love hearing Biblical truth in fiction. It should happen more often, but not when it’s so shoehorned in and so frequent that it holds the plot hostage. I literally could not get past more than two paragraphs without somebody reciting a sermon. Nothing really wrong was said, but these moments rarely moved the story forward. That’s a major problem. This stilted-narrative issue is further agitated by C. E. Stone’s imprecise use of Third Person Omniscient. I could hardly keep track of who I was following. This forced me to frequently pause from reading to re-orient myself. Action sequences were rendered un-trackable because of it. The landscape descriptions were nice though, so there’s that.
The characters themselves didn’t help the middle section’s monotony either. Their verbal and mental banter proved just as repetitious. Katie is constantly angsty. Dudeman is constantly obnoxious. Samantha is constantly demanding and preachy. So on and so on. It’s like each character got stuck singing one note in what’s supposed to be a symphonic choir. That’s kinda disappointing. Their lacking dynamics thus left their personalities feeling pretty flat to me. Even the villain’s monologuing left me both annoyed and slightly amused by his broken-record cartoonish corniness. Now, I don’t mean to call these characters functionally terrible. They really aren’t. They played their story roles just fine, but that’s just it. They did fine. They didn’t do much for my personal tastes beyond that.
Something that I can wholeheartedly commend Starganauts for, though, is its heart. It is definitely in the right place and very family friendly. Yeah, earth is blown to bits at the beginning, but beyond that, the violence doesn’t get too over the top or grisly. Language is squeaky clean too. Sensual content really only amounts to a few kisses between husbands and wives, and despite their extremely overbearing presence, the ‘sermons’ stayed Biblically sound with the barest issue. Its single questionable theological aspect is God’s allowance for earth’s obliteration before Tribulation. However, for the sake of the story’s entire setup, I’m willing to let that part slide. The ethical cleanliness Starganauts already has is already at the level I wish was more commonplace in fictional markets.
Starganauts, ultimately speaking, is a mixed bag. One the one hand, it severely suffers from over-preachiness and a classic case of good beginning, good ending, and boring middle. On the other, it presented a promising setup and the kind of Biblical heart I like to see. If you absolutely adore survival stories and space operas, you’ll likely enjoy Starganauts regardless of its flaws. I’d also recommend this book to parents with young kids who love outer space adventures. They’d definitely get their alien fix and will hear a good helping of God’s Word along the way. Just know that if you’re like me who prefers a faster paced narrative and much subtler Biblical messaging, Starganauts might not be your ‘space’-suit.
Total — 38%
Biblical Integrity: 9/10
Total — 92%
Overall Score — 65%
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