Cover Illustrator : Stephen Youll
Setting: future, space
Rated : 9 Stars
I remember throwing away a child.
–Kameron Hurley - The Stars are Legion - c.2017
Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution. As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion. (from Goodreads)
I’m finding it very difficult to start this post for a number of reasons. First off, I don’t want to spoil too much, learning about the world Hurley has created is a great part of this book. But also, I think that revealing some of the plot details may put people off this book, and for the wrong reason. If I tell you that this is a book about soldiers fighting for their survival and their world-ship’s survival, but then add that all the characters are female, some people are probably going to nope out. And in one way that’s their loss, but you can bet they wouldn’t react the same if the only characters in the book were men. Of course that wouldn’t work in this world, on account of a very unusual use for pregnancy and birth in the world-building.
There is also the fact that although gender is an important part of the book it isn’t a reason to read, or not read the book. It is just part of the story. Well, not “just”, it is an integral part of the story.
If you’re worried that a book about women won’t have enough action for you, well, that’s your own preconception that needs addressing right there, and I hate the fact that I’m even mentioning it, but it is something that I’ve read in other places. Women can’t write dark and violent. Well, Hurley proves that they can.
In fact that is the one flaw in this book, in my opinion. It is pretty violent and dark. Grimdark even. And I’m not usually a huge fan of that subgenre. Too much blood and gore and darkness for darkness’ sake. Here, though, it works. The world these characters inhabit is one full of threat and violence and the probability of destruction. Power makes right.
But it isn’t all that dark, and the hints of the wider world where life is continuing, albeit under extreme duress, were a nicely done addition. They didn’t alleviate any of the darkness, but provided characters that weren’t quite so weary as Zan and Jayd.
I think this is possibly my favourite fiction by Hurley, because it has that faintest hints of hope and characters’ who don’t live entirely in a world of darkness and violence. They are, of course, influenced by violence and the world in which they live, they just aren’t quite so grimdark about it all. I need that it of light to really enjoy a book I think. I like to be able to wish a character well, and that can be hard when there is misery upon misery in a book.
In short, this is a really good read, a page-turner that kept me reading “just one more chapter”, full of new and interesting world-building. Give it a go, even if you think it might not be for you, who knows, it might be…