Kirkus Reviews QR Code


From the Take Them to the Stars series, volume 1

by Sylvain Neuvel

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-250-26206-6
Publisher: Tor

The first installment in Neuvel’s Take Them to the Stars trilogy is a historical science-fiction thriller set largely in World War II Europe that follows a mother and daughter whose mysterious family’s multigenerational mission is to save humankind.

Mia Freed and her mother, Sarah, are members of the Kibsu, an all-women society whose mysterious origins go back thousands of years to ancient Mesopotamia—and beyond. Generation after generation, the Kibsu consists of a mother-and-daughter team, and their objective never changes: “Take them to the stars, before Evil comes and kills them all.” Pursued across the world by someone known as the Tracker, Mia and her mother must keep one step ahead of their mythical pursuer while also attempting the impossible—to somehow get aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, a pioneer in rocket technology, out of Nazi Germany before the Russians can get him and his knowledge. As Mia and Sarah struggle to achieve their lifelong task of getting humankind into space, Mia questions her very existence when she falls in love with a young woman who forces her to look at her life, and her suspected extraterrestrial heritage, from a different perspective. With the backdrop of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union adding tension and intrigue, Neuvel weaves a story that’s similar in tone to an X-Files episode, replete with arcane secrets, conspiracy theories, and the possibility of aliens living among us. The real power of this novel, however, lies in the adeptly developed character of Mia and her painful and revelatory journey of self-discovery. The abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion will leave some readers disappointed and others scratching their heads, but the second installment could easily set this saga, which is filled with virtually limitless narrative possibilities, back on track.

A flawed beginning to a potentially fascinating science-fiction series.