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HOLD BACK THE STARS BY KATIE KHAN

PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY
REVIEW BY CALLIE STEVENS

When the government does not allow people to be in a relationship until the age of at least 35, what do two twenty-somethings in love do? Katie Khan’s debut novel is a vibrant new science fiction of dreams and desire, and it would make for the perfect summer read. It has a gripping plot with great characters set in a futuristic utopia.

The book begins with the young lovers Max and Carys floating in space, trying to get back to their shuttle, which has been crippled by an asteroid. They only have 90 minutes of oxygen left and everything to lose. A series of flashbacks show the readers their whole relationship from the beginning, as well as details of this future society. This structure effectively builds tension and keeps the reader guessing.

The world has changed. There was a war between the United States and the Middle East and the nuclear fallout has largely decimated those regions (this is hopefully not a prescient detail). Europia is the union that brings the rest of the world together in peace. This utopia embraces the individual above all else. People are better because they do what they want to do, not what they ought to do. But at what cost? The Voivodeship places people on compulsory three year rotations to different Voivodes (countries to us) in order to avoid connections: move on to a new place, with a new job and new people before you get bored. And unless you are 35 or older, the Couples Rule means you’re guaranteed to be separated from people you love. 

So what is love, and is it that important? What would we do, should we sacrifice it to build the perfect society? This book offers an interesting vision of a futuristic utopia. Discussion about what makes a perfect society adds depth to this love story, but it never feels forced, only adding to characterisation and context. The world is built with great touches of technological and social change so it feels real, like the Wall River of news feed and social media. This is a great mix of science fiction and romance that would appeal to a huge variety of readers.

Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.