A forbidden romance set in space, this young adult debut has the potential to be the next Twilight. Recommended for teenage girls
17 year-old Seren is trapped in space on the Ventura first contact vessel. Part of the 84th Generation born since leaving Earth, she’s never known anything different but, while her peers accept their situation, Seren longs for something more. She longs for all the things she’s never known including sunshine, fresh air and choice. She refuses to accept the role assigned to her, especially when she discovers her assigned ‘life partner’ is the one person she can’t stand – the Captain’s son, Ezra. Then the Ventura enters the orbit of an unexplored planet (Huxley 3) and she falls for 19 year old Domingo Suarez. Suddenly everything in Seren’s life is spiralling out of control.
A definite genre piece, the space setting in The Loneliness of Distant Beings is a welcome change from the dystopian worlds we’ve become so used to reading about. It’s also perfectly realised. Author, Kate Ling, has clearly thought through the details of life on the Ventura and there isn’t a single gap to trip up the reader. Despite the unusual setting, Seren’s first person narration reveals a personality that readers will immediately recognise. Indeed, the truculent teen voice is captured so well that there were moments when – as an adult reader – I found Seren slightly irritating. This is, however, testament to the power of the characterisation and I am confident the target audience for this book (teenage girls) will easily identify with Seren.
A coming of age story that considers what it means to be human and the nature of love, this is primarily a love story. Personally I found the love lead, Domingo or Dom, to be rather two dimensional. Spanish speaking, sexy and immediately in love with Seren, he is almost the serotype of the perfect male lead in a Hollywood movie. The supporting characters are, however, much more intriguing. I was particularly fascinated by Seren’s allocated ‘life partner’ Ezra and also by Dom’s cousin Mariana. Both have a depth that is unusual in supporting characters and interesting back stories that kept me reading until the end. Ezra, especially, had me questioning his motives and considering his actions well after I’d read the last page – always a good sign in a book!
The publishers are comparing The Loneliness of Distant Beings to Veronica Roth’s Divergent series but I’m not sure this is the best comparison. There are certainly elements of Tris and Four’s relationship in the instant attraction and obsession that Seren and Dom have for one another but Divergent has an action plot line beyond this romance which is absent in the The Loneliness of Distant Beings. In many ways, I think a comparison with the hugely successful Twilight series would be more appropriate. And, as with Twilight, I fully expect this book will capture the imagination and attention of teenage girls across the globe.
If you enjoyed this and somehow managed to miss the Twilight series, you should definitely try Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Similarly if you haven’t yet read the Divergent trilogy, I’d definitely recommend it. And, if you’ve read both of these series, why not try another new and exciting young adult debut in the form of More of Me by Kathryn Evans.
Date: May 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Author’s Website: Kate Ling
Review first published on The Bookbag