SPSFC Semifinalist: Dead Star by Simon Kewin

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This book has an intriguing opening chapter where a woman has died repeatedly and has been brought back to life by a man named Ondo, a rebel hiding from the Concordance.

The Concordance takes a center stage both in the world building and the plot for this book, which honestly was why it didn’t reach a 9/10 for me, I found the backstory to this evil super power to be lacking. The concordance is a religious group that dominates the galaxy, go against them and you risk not just death for yourself, but death for everyone around you.

Selena Ada has survived an entire planet-wide destruction brought to you by the concordance since they stepped out of line and had started to discover things they shouldn’t know about. This also sort of demonstrates why it was a little too much for me. Killing off an entire planet and their resources is a little extreme. The wider your kingdom or empire is, the harder your subjects are to keep in line. Extreme measures like that create rebellions and an unstable empire, so the mustache-twirly villians really took this book down a notch for me. Selena and Ondo become partners in “crime” as they try to unlock the secrets the Concordance is trying to hide from the entire galaxy. It’s got an old school sci-fi exploration vibe to it as they try and find a lost planet.

Outside of the Concordance I really, really enjoyed most aspects of the book and found to be engaging in all the right ways. The world building outside of the Concordance had a lot of mystery and intrigue and it kept me wanting to know more. There were hints about lost knowledge and planets that was placed at just the right time to give the reader some steam. There were also a bunch of just very neat ideas laced into the book to give it that extra appeal, a little extra pop — like “ghostshipping” which was a trippy AF scene, 10/10.

The writing was pretty great in that I sunk into this book without effort and just kept sailing through. I don’t recall any agitating info dumps, awkwardly phrased passages, things I thought needed editing, lulls in the pacing, or anything like that. It was just smooth sailing from start to finish which is an understated talent. The one other gripe I have is the very loose ending with a bunch of unanswered questions. I’m okay with some stuff being left to the next book, but this almost felt like one book cut in half at the end. Plot wise it made sense to end there, kinda, but there was so much left unanswered it felt a bit unsatisfying, I wish there was just a bit more buttoning up at the end.

All in all I found this to be a really neat read and I’m very glad it made it into the semifinalist!


  • Plot: 12/15
  • Characters: 11/15
  • World Building: 12.5/15
  • Writing: 12.5/15
  • Pacing: 13.5/15
  • Originality: 11/15
  • Enjoyment: 7.5/10

Final score: 80/100