Review by Charlotte Mundy
Orca Book Publishers, 14th February 2023
80 pages, Paperback, $10.95 CAD, 99781459834675
Science Fiction, Romance
He looked out the window at the planet. It was still alive for now. The energy he’d taken wasn’t enough to kill the bright sun yet, but it had dimmed. It wouldn’t be long before the planet died. He sighed.
“Goodbye, pretty planet,” he said. “I’m sorry.” Destin entered in a comms message. “This is Raider 1984-225, Destin X. I have full-power-cell status. Coming back to base now.”
He was about to hit enter when he heard a soft sound behind him. It sounded like someone had said, “No.” He spun around in his chair. There was a person. A girl. On his ship. She was crying, shaking. And she was not supposed to be there.
Destin is a 17-year-old boy who unwillingly works for a powerful space corporation known as IRIS. As a Raider, Destin must harvest the energy of stars or face severe consequences. After Destin steals a star, a young stowaway by the name of Calla appears on his ship, challenging his perceptions and begging him to return the star to save her planet. With the threat of IRIS on their tail, they embark on a journey of romance and adventure.
Brooke Carter’s Star Eaters offers an increase in accessibility to dyslexic and other young readers by providing enhanced features such as a larger font and trim size. Contextually, the novel demonstrates Destin’s sense of integrity while working under a flawed system of corporate greed and slavery. I appreciate that Destin’s character arc reveals his morality and strong empathetic nature when deciding to help Calla. This science fiction romance novel highlights the importance of staying true to oneself and risking it all by standing up for what you believe in.
Unfortunately, I feel the content echoes problematic themes of colonialism. Destin lives in a lifeless, bleak spaceship that destroys new worlds by harvesting their suns, whereas Calla’s home is described as vivacious and green with beautiful bodies of water and snow-capped mountains. There is a clear power imbalance between Destin and Calla, and I feel the story’s attempt at a romance between them utilized some stereotypical tropes. Alone and afraid for the fate of her planet, Calla’s only option is to hope that she may sway Destin into saving her world while on his ship. The undercurrent of chemistry feels forced and unsettling between these two, especially given the context that Calla is trapped on Destin’s ship with her fate in his hands. One particular scene where Calla is crying in fear is also laced with subtle hints of lust—arms brushing and sending sparks down their bodies, looks lingering for a few extra seconds. The juxtaposition between fear and attraction felt confusing and borderline inappropriate. It becomes difficult to believe the pair are falling in love, even after Destin decides to spare her planet. Although perhaps unintentional, the forced romance between Destin and Calla echoes a narrative of colonialism that has been proven to be problematic time and time again.
Brooke Carter’s Star Eaters is a light and approachable read that offers important themes of staying true to oneself. The accessibility of the novel for dyslexic and other readers is an undeniable perk. Unfortunately, the themes of corporate greed, slavery, and colonialism in the context of a lusty romantic novel felt dissonant. Along with the confusing romantic undertones, some of the messages may appear problematic, especially when presented to young readers.
Charlotte Mundy completed her undergraduate with a BSc in Nursing. Living with the curse of creativity while working in a scientific field, she has been taking writing courses at UBC to satisfy her appetite for literature. She has always enjoyed reading and writing and hopes to one day become an author.