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BOOK REVIEW: Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis

BOOK REVIEW: Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis

Hardie Grant Egmont
April 2015
Paperback, $19.95
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

8.5/10

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There’s a common problem that comes with time travel stories, usually to do with paradoxes and the author’s inability to handle them as the delicate, universe collapsing things that they are.

Inevitably, time travel books are about going back and changing the past, right?

Well, not this one.

‘I don’t know.’ I think for a bit. ‘It doesn’t make sense to me, going backwards. Like, if you travel back and kill your younger self. Except now you’re dead, so there’s no future self to come back and kill you.’ Mason’s smiling by now, nodding, so I join in. ‘So now you survive, but that means you’re alive to come back and kill yourself…’

Scout is an illegal. She’s not meant to exist, because her mother wasn’t married when she gave birth, and children from single parent homes are taken away.

Scout’s mother has kept her hidden – away from security cameras, away from scanners – her entire life. They both live on half rations because Scout, of course, isn’t allotted any. But when Scout goes to her favourite hiding place after a fight with her mum, she finds a woman already there. A woman wrapped in a blanket and nothing else, a woman who’s close to death.

As the woman’s life ends, Scout finds herself presented with an opportunity well beyond anything she could have dreamed. But there’s something strange about the woman’s chip, and now there are two guys following Scout, asking her to show them how to travel through time.

It’s as if he wants to climb inside my mind, the way he’s looking at me, as if I actually count. After being invisible my whole life, this is such a strange place to find myself. It’s unnerving, but I kind of like it.

 

This is one of those books you will pick up to read the first chapter, to see if it grabs you, and the next thing you know it’s past your bed time, but you’ll keep reading anyway.

This isn’t a story about someone who’s special discovering their destiny. Scout happens to be in the right place at the right time(or wrong place and time, depending on who you ask), and just desperate enough to do what she has to. Growing up, Scout couldn’t attend school, so one of her neighbours gave her programming related tasks to keep her busy, thus enabling her to hack her way around not having a chip, most of the time.

Now that she has a chip, she’s trying to find the balance between being herself and being the woman whose chip she stole. She’s making friends, and trying to keep them from finding out that she’s illegal. She’s enrolling in school, finally with a future to work towards, and trying to work out how to travel through time. But what will happen when the truth comes out, and everything falls apart?

This is an essential addition to the library of anyone who enjoys good sci-fi and time travel, and for anyone who prefers their young adult sci-fi not overrun by romance. The writing is engaging, the characters likeable and entertaining, the world building flawlessly laid over the top of current day Melbourne, and the time travel makes sense. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to work out how to travel forward to the release of the next book in the series!

BOOK REVIEW: Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis

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