Khanh the Killjoy

Beyond terrible

Beyond Our Stars - Marie Langager

Do you hate having a brain? Do you find that the act of thinking is just so difficult? I mean, fuck analytical processes, really. Well, ladies and gentlemen, step right up. Leave your better judgments at the door. Wave a fond farewell to your brain's cerebral cortex. Kiss your rationality and common sense goodbye. Engage your suspension of disbelief, because man oh man, this book is just for you!

No imagination. No creativity. No rationality.

Without a doubt, this is the worst book about aliens and intergalactic travel I have ever read. If you mashed YA dystopia and sci-fi together with a rotten banana and some liver and fed it to a hyena, the hyena would eat it, regurgitate it, then cackle uncontrollably for around 20 minutes afterward. This book is not so much a sci-fi as it is the glorification of the most wonderful, smartest, most perfectest girl in the whole fucking universe ever and how her sheer fucking brilliance saves the fate of humanity in a way that I can't understand myself, except to say that she does it brilliantly because the book tells me so. Somehow.

The most powerful figure on the ship trusts our main character, Hope. She's got a posse of boys who pretty much bend to her beck and will. Female friends? Merely bodies to fluff up the book. Fuck girl friends, really. Who needs girls when you've got one bad, bad, naughty dickschnozzle who's secretly in love with you---but man, does he not show it! I mean, there's teasing a girl you like in 3rd grade, and then there's calling her a bitch.

“You shut your stupid mouth! Stupid bitch who believes these things are our friends! Do you feel friendly now?”
“Stupid bitch,” he said again.

There's another boy who loves you and wants to marry you, and yet another one who is permanently friendzoned. It's raining men!

Oh, and adults? They're fucking dumb. For a girl who's so utterly perfect, Hope hasn't got a lot of respect for the wisdom of the elderly, instead constantly calling them "old-erly," Hope's attitude constantly belittles adults who are, naturally, not so wise as the brilliant kids.

Seriously, the elderly that had made it onto the ships had gotten crankier and ruder than I’d ever known them to be on Earth. Like there was some unspoken agreement between all of them that this was all our fault, the young people were to blame, that they deserved better in their twilight years. Lectures from some grouchy, pissed off old-erly hunched over on a cane were not uncommon. ‘Respect your Elders,’ they said. Like they wanted to teach us, to impart their wisdom before it was too late. But in my book it already was too late.

This book is juvenile. It is simplistic. It is devoid of imagination and creativity. The writing is sophomoric, filled with errors in punctuation and grammar, like the use of "you're" instead of "your" in the possessive form. The dialogue is juveile, filled with exclaimation mark that leant towards the side of histrionics instead of implying drama. If it were not for occasional sprinklings of profanity and some very slightly sexual scenes, this book could easily be a grade school book. But then again, saying this book is grade-school quality might be an insult to some grade school books because there are quite a few exemplary children's books that contains the complexities and the plot and the character development that this book utterly lacked.

Summary: The premise is simple enough, and the book blurb summarized it quite well. Earth is destroyed, the demise happened around 2058. It is some 15-20 years after. There are less than 100,000 survivors on Earth, and 5,000 of those survivors are on a spaceship, the Reflection. They are off on a 5-year voyage to a planet they have called Haven. They land only to encounter a seemingly hostile alien species, on this planet, the humans ARE the aliens. The "aliens" are called "Locals," by the humans, and the Locals have selected 10 of each age group, children, adolescents, adults, elderly (or rather, "old-erly," fuck you, Hope). Hope is one of the adolescents chosen by the Locals, she and her group are put through some tests, used more or less as lab rats by the Locals under certain conditions. And somehow or another, Hope and her brilliant fucking brain turns out to be..."the human race’s last chance for survival."

The premise is simple enough, so what went wrong? Oh, my. Where do I start?

The World Building: Pitiful. Laughable.

1. The naming of children - "Weeks got his name from parents who’d given in to the doomsday thinking on Earth, near the end. Some of the kids had names like his now. Days, Weeks, Hours. People named their kid after the amount of time they thought they had left."

As a result, we have some utterly ludicrous names. Because 90% of parents will want to give their children fucking ludicrous names like Pilgrim, Legacy, Chance, Marseille, Cairo. I'm just glad we didn't actually encounter anyone named Seconds. There's nary a normal name in the book.

2. The demise of Earth - Incredibly vague. Your usual formulaic shit without much sense or explanation. I am so sick of this eco-disaster bullshit. It makes no sense, it is sensationalistic without an iota of truth, and it is even more incredible given the fact that this book takes place so close to the near future.

Most of the Gov officials had died in the cataclysmic failure of Earth that had come suddenly after twelve years on the precipice.

Oh, cataclysmic failure. That's sooooooo fucking detailed. Oh wait, there are floods. There are Tsunamis (which, for some fucking reason is capitalized like that in the book. Editor, where are you?) There are volcanic eruptions, lava flows that kill people.

Are you fucking kidding me? Where did all this come from? Did the world fucking implode between the years 2014 and 2058? If so, could we get some fucking explanation besides, "well, the world collapsed?" Tsunamis don't happen out of nowhere. Volcanic eruptions don't happen out of nowhere. How did the remaining people survive? The portrayal of the destruction of earth is poorly portrayed, without an ounce of ingenuity.

3. What fucking spaceship? - Along with an extremely vague past, we have an extremely vague present. If you're going to put humans, and not just one human, five thousand humans on a spaceship in the year 2070 or so, you better give me a good fucking explanation. There was none. Technology? Fuck that shit, because apparently when you are writing to a YA audience, there's no need for an iota of veracity and explanation because your audience is too dumb to care about that, right? Fuck that, seriously.

There is no mention of the development of space technology in the years between 2014 and the book's present. There is no mention of the advances made before we put one man in a spaceship to the point where we can take 5000 people on a journey taking five years to a distant planet.

Was there warp speed? Are we traveling at the speed of light? How distant is the planet? How big is the spaceship? How did that many people survive on that spaceship for all those years? Speaking of which...

4. Fuck Rationing on the Spaceship, Because We Have Motherfucking Cheetos and Chips! Ahoy: Seriously, they have "cheese puffs" and packaged chocolate chip cookies. What, man? What? Are you fucking serious? There is no food manufacturing technology on board, and all we're told is that they have enough food on board for 5000 people to last 5 years. THAT'S A LOT OF FOOD. THAT'S A LONG FUCKING TIME. Was there no greenhouses? Don't we have better use of room on board a motherfucking spaceship than to use it as fucking storage space? I find that absolutely idiotic.

There is an explanation for why the spaceship doesn't need ration. It's fucking stupid.

Rationing had never been necessary because more ships were built and stocked than had actually taken off.
During that time we’d taken food from other vessels and over-stocked ourselves.

WHAT? Ok, let's get one thing straight. When you are up in the motherfucking air, space and weight is of the essence. That's why you get charged so fucking much for carrying on additional bags during flight. It doesn't fucking matter that you have a lot of food on earth left over from other spaceships so that you can overstock yourself. The issue is capacity on board a fucking spaceship. It doesn't make any sense!

5. The Fairy Fucking Fantasy of a Foreign Planet: Hostile space?! Not fucking likely. It's a gloriously Earth-like environment, with twinkling multi-colored stars and a Northern Lights-like sky!?

there were beautiful green, yellow and pink dancing lights waving across the sky and illuminating the land below. It looked like the northern lights back home, but it was everywhere.

Fuck you! And news flash, Hope. You lived in fucking Reno, Nevada. There ain't no Northern Lights to be seen there!

Let's get one thing straight. This planet ain't nowhere near our galaxy, since scientists have found no Earth-like environment anywhere near us with our current technology now. Any other galaxies are thousands of lights years ago, so this planet better be fucking far. So how did they get there so fast? Gasp!

There is a complete oversimplification of alien life. Everything is so fucking convenient. There are edible fruits, which are Earth-like but of course, slightly different for vanity's fucking sake. There is water. There is a similar gravitational pull (my assumption, because the book didn't fucking mention anything about it). There are already-grown crops on the planet, ready to be harvested, since aliens plant crop circles on Earth they surely must plant crops on their planet, right? How fucking dumb do you think we are?

Straight lines, different patches, like a quilt.
Then I realized what I was looking at. Crops. Huge, rolling fields of crops. Others realized seconds after I did. Then the image got so close the plants became unmistakable. There was obviously food growing in abundance.

And there are edible animals! Let's just call the animal Steves! Eat the Steves! Eat all of them!

Almost immediately we discovered that our landing site was a nesting spot for animals about the size of a pig, with mud-colored shells, hard as diamond. The kid got to be the first to name something in our new world, and he called them Steves.
Chief had ordered a special feast tonight with some of the reserve Steves."

6. The Oversimplification of Alien Life: Is it just me, or is it really lacking in imagination to make an alien world so completely similar to our own. It is such an over-assumption and a superimposition of our own beliefs towards something of which we do not know. This book is essentially assuming that a distant planet is almost identical to Earth in biology. It has similar crops, similar animals, that are digestible to human beings. There are aliens, but they come straight out of Area 41's little (or rather, large) gray men. Elongated gray men with large heads. There's just no imagination there. They bleed, but they're aaaaaaaliens because they bleed blue. It is a stupid assumption to assume that aliens look like anything we are familiar to, that their method of living is similar to ours, that they are out of a fucking Hollywood movie. This book is so lacking in creativity that it is incredible.

The Mary Sue: Hope is beautiful, well, she's not beautiful, but she supposes that she could be considered good looking. But it's not important, anyway. Really, it's not important.

I supposed I was pretty-ish. Somehow, I’d grown into a girl that some boys might like to look at. But it didn’t matter.

Hope is extremely tough, she survived a trek ON FOOT of roughly 150 miles in a country supposedly devastated by fires and volcanoes. At the age of 13. But there's no explanation of how she actually accomplished it.

Hope is so popular, she doesn't even know it.

“Oh, everyone knows me?” I asked, not understanding.
“You’re only the most popular girl on Reflection,” the girl answered.
That shut me up. I was? Not to my knowledge.

Hope is a natural leader, someone with charisma so well-disguised I never would have realized.

People looked at me first. Everyone assumed I was a leader so I went with it.

Hope is so fucking special, even the Chief of the spaceship wants her opinion as to what to do regarding life or death situations regarding the new planet. The Chief brings in a few other teenagers, too, but ultimately, it is always Hope to whom the Chief turns for advice. Hope tells the Chief what to do. Adults are fucking idiots who can do nothing without the superiority of Hope.

I whispered into Chief’s ear. “Let Legacy out, bring him to the depository. Resume removal of the weapons.”

If she does something wrong, the Chief covers for her. Hope never gets into trouble.

“This girl is providing intel to the creatures after all! Behind your back, Chief!”
Chief’s face became completely composed. “I asked Hope to create those.”

Hope is so amazing.

“Chance said you were amazing."

Yep. He's not the only one who thinks Hope is amazing.

Legacy paused. "The truth is I think you’re amazing."

So brilliant. So strong.

“You’re so strong, Hope. How can you be that strong?”

Her every intuition is correct. Her spider senses tingle as she looks into an alien's eyes.

I searched its eyes and I thought maybe I saw sadness.

Women's intuition ain't got nothing on fucking Hope. Sure, the aliens torture them, they play games with the humans, they almost killed them. But Hope's got feeeeeeelings, man. There's really a kind heart underneath all of the aliens' cruelty. She knows it. How?

I had no answer. We weren’t their enemy. Each session seemed so different, I couldn’t explain it.

She doesn't know. She can't explain it. But she can fucking FEEL IT.

Don't take this book with a grain of salt, take it with an entire jar. You might be killed by sodium poisoning, but that might be preferable to reading some parts of this book.