Book Review – A Hole in the Sky

Book #1 of the Arkship trilogy.

Daedalus is a starship on a 500 year voyage, taking a civilization of humans to a new planet. This ship isn’t a normal spacecraft though, it is a fully contained habitat that mirrors a wordly environment. The people on the ship are farmers who live in village-type communities, there’s even trees and fields and animals. Early on in the voyage, the inhabitants stopped using the machine technology and began to actively prevent anyone from using it. Since these machines were no longer active, it meant that the choice had to be made to begin cycling everything in the habitat to maintain a balance in resources. This included humans who are basically killed at 65-years old.

The story is told from Hazel’s point of view. She encounters a group called the Cheaters, who refuse to be Cycled and who are trying to figure out how to use some of the long abandoned tech. Hazel and her brother join up with the resistance group and discover so many secrets that the Daedalus is hiding. Together they uncover a huge problem that could change everything about their home. Who is actually piloting the ship?

I know it’s not technically shelved as YA (Hamilton will deny it himself) but it’s definitely Young Adult. That’s fine, however, Hamilton is a middle-aged man trying to write a 16-year old girl. Unfortunately, Hazel’s character felt like he took what he imagined a teen girl would be like (which was nothing like how a teen girl actually is), then overlaid Alice in Wonderland vibes over top of it. It didn’t work. It felt weird.

The narrator choice was also a big problem for me. Elizabeth Klett would be great reading something by Jane Austen but she did not fit in this story at all. If there had been a better narrator who did not sound so light and fluffy and properly British, then it could have changed the entire tone of the book in a good way. One annoyance I had with her narrating was that in the beginning, I could not tell if the name of the resistance group was Cheaters or Cheetahs. Her accent was a little thick and it caused some weird confusion. Especially when the story was talking about darting them, which you’d do with cheetahs right?

As for the story itself, it was okay. Everyone was bored during Covid lockdown and this is what Hamilton came up with while being stuck at home. The framework of this one is typical Hamilton, but that’s where familiarity ends. Either he wanted to try something completely different, lost a bet with a friend and had to write a teen girl YA space book, or this was written by someone else and published under his name. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, they seemed one-dimensional and boring most of the time, the twist at the end was predictable, and there was a serious lack of tech usage & descriptions that are standard in other Hamilton books.

This one gets a 2 out of 5. I wanted to give up so many times, but kept going because I hoped it would get better (it did not). I don’t recommend this book unless you’re a completionist reader who wants to read every Hamilton book, or you’re a teen girl ages 11-13.

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