Yume Kitasei's The Deep Sky is an enthralling sci fi thriller debut about a mission into deep space that begins with a lethal explosion that leaves the survivors questioning the loyalty of the crew.
They left Earth to save humanity. They’ll have to save themselves first.
It is the eve of Earth’s environmental collapse. A single ship carries humanity’s last hope: eighty elite graduates of a competitive program, who will give birth to a generation of children in deep space. But halfway to a distant but livable planet, a lethal bomb kills three of the crew and knocks The Phoenix off course. Asuka, the only surviving witness, is an immediate suspect.
As the mystery unfolds on the ship, poignant flashbacks reveal how Asuka came to be picked for the mission. Despite struggling through training back on Earth, she was chosen to represent Japan, a country she only partly knows as a half-Japanese girl raised in America. But estranged from her mother back home, The Phoenix is all she has left.
With the crew turning on each other, Asuka is determined to find the culprit before they all lose faith in the mission—or worse, the bomber strikes again.
Kitasei sets her action-packed near-future debut against the backdrop of impending human extinction. In the face of global warfare, terrorism, and ecological collapse, the ambitious EvenStar project offers humanity a chance to start fresh, sending the spaceship Phoenix to colonize a new world. Asuka is selected for the crew from the crème de la crème of Earth's youth, but she grapples with imposter syndrome, convinced that her crewmates are all more competent and deserving than she is. When she fails to conceive a child en route, a critical component of the mission, it only compounds her feelings of failure and inadequacy. An explosion throws the Phoenix off course, prompting concerns there may be a terrorist aboard the ship. When suspicion lands on Asuka, she must—with the aid of a buggy and enigmatic AI—find a way to clear her name and keep all hell from breaking loose on the cramped ship. Frequent flashbacks to Asuka's past on Earth interrupt this tense spacefaring mystery, and though some readers may find this distracting, they successfully add context for and complexity to the resilient heroine. The result is a remarkable story of endurance and hope.
To the birds
I enjoyed the story and the characters … and the bird vignettes which I realized were clues but never appreciated until the big reveal. Thanks!
Telling so many stories in one narrative
What I like about this book is that it’s about so many things. I’ll let you discover almost all of them, but the one theme that stands out the most is despair versus hope. It’s in so much of the story, whether Asuka’s heroic efforts in training, in the crew’s struggle to fix their ship’s course, or if Earth’s humans will even survive. Kitasei’s story starts with Asuka surviving a disaster and ends with her hoping she has averted one. Just uplifting and thrilling and emotional all at the same time.