By Ekta R. Garg
October 29, 2014
Rated: Bordering on Borrow it
A young woman receives a mysterious journal on her birthday. The journal begins giving her instructions, and before she can wonder what the messages means her life takes a dramatic turn. The journal’s directions save her from the chaos and take her to a brand new place full of new challenges. Author R.G. Howard shares with his readers the somewhat rough-edged but interesting science fiction novella Beyond the Last Star.
The year is 2861 and Washington D.C. resident Icara Movado skips part of school on the day before her birthday to visit Sophia De Lancey, the owner of Icara’s favorite bakery. Sophia gives Icara a blank journal as a gift, but when Icara starts leafing through the pages she finds a mysterious message on the last page.
“It is very important that you listen to everything I say from here onward,” the page instructs. “Within our grasp are entire worlds ready for exploration. I’ll be with you every step of the way, but what you need to do right now is run outside the wall.”
Icara understands the cryptic message minutes later when a bomb detonates in the bakery. She escapes by crossing the forbidden boundary that edges the city, meeting other teens along the way. Again and again Icara consults the journal for guidance, and it takes her and her new friends to an abandoned spaceship. The journal directs her to use an unusual device in the spaceship to transport herself to a new place—to a new decade in time, in fact, and to a ship in space.
Author R.G. Howard gives readers a familiar but likable science fiction premise in Beyond the Last Star, the first novella in his Traverse Series. The book, however, would improve with another round or two of editing, both for content as well as proofing errors.
Howard doesn’t wait for his readers to fill in the lines of the story, offering all of the information via narration and dialogue and taking away the need for the readers’ imagination. Die-hard science fiction fans may not like being taken for granted in this way. Also, Howard’s facts don’t always line up; in one paragraph he implies that Icara is 12 years old. In another a character states Icara is 11.
Given its drawbacks, however, Beyond the Last Star does offer some nice moments. Readers will like Icara, and Howard drops intriguing plot points throughout the novella. With some tinkering Howard will have a wonderful start to his series of stories.
I believe Beyond the Last Star borders on Borrow it.