The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown

Jacklyn Albright is thrust into command of a generational ship on its return home to Earth after a failed colonization mission, and she has to navigate the dangers both inside the ship and outside of it.

Pros

  • Engaging story with a protagonist who isn’t perfect
  • Feels a bit of a horror story with the monsters in a confined area with nowhere to run
  • Some bits of suspense

Cons

  • Some vague references to “engagements” that aren’t really discussed until the end
  • Ending feels a bit of a deus ex machina

The Scourge Between Stars Review

The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown captures and holds readers’ attention through suspense, mystery, and action.

The premise of the story is fairly straightforward: a failed colonization attempt by a generation ship leads the survivors and descendants of the original colonists on a trip back home to Earth, a place that is more alien to them than the world they left, not to mention so distant as to be a dream.

But these descendants know Earth exists even if they don’t know what state the planet is in since their information is centuries outdated, and there’s no communication with the planet that may provide any clues. Essentially, these colonists aboard the generational ship Calypso are on a last-ditch attempt to find a planet they call home as their supplies aboard the ship are dwindling and as the ship itself is disintegrating.

Several elements obstruct the Calypso and her crew’s attempt to return home. First is the dwindling supplies measured against the length of the journey. At their current pace, the ship would not be able to return home before they exhaust their supplies.

The second obstacle is the strange encounters the mentioned by the protagonist, acting Captain Jacklyn Albright. These somewhat frequent encounters that are not detailed or explained, result in pieces of the ship being damaged or destroyed. Who, or what, these encounters entail are not quite revealed until the end.

Finally, the last, and perhaps most pressing, obstacle is the largest: stowaways. These stowaways represent the largest threat to Jacklyn and her crew, and their presence is the final puzzle piece that illuminates the mysteries surrounding Jacklyn’s family, primarily her disturbed mother and absent father, the former Captain.

One of the appeals of the story is that the protagonist, Jacklyn Albright, isn’t a perfect character. She’s not a hero by any measure of a hero. She’s simply the daughter of the former captain who is thrust into the role of leadership prematurely. And she’s doing her best to rise to the occasion.

The setting of the story lends itself to the suspense. Any horror movie where the victims or prey are restricted in their environment—whether it’s aliens hunting humans on a ship or being trapped inside a mansion with a psychotic murderer—automatically ratchets up the suspense and horror. The same is true for this story as the characters battle for supremacy, and given the setting, it’s not a real surprise how she manages.

The conclusion of the story does answer some of the many questions that readers may have about the plot like the nature of the encounters and the family history. But it all feels more like a big information dump rather than something gradually planned out. And there’s still the question of the fate of the other ships in the fleet, though the implications regarding their fate aren’t very positive.

The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown is an engaging story with some very expected outcomes for the plot. But some unanswered questions regarding the scourges between the stars and the fate of Earth at the end don’t quite leave readers with a sense of a completed ending. But perhaps not knowing is the point.

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