Title: Lifespan of Starlight
Author: Thalia Kalkipsakis
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Publication Date: 1st April 2015
Rating: 4/5 stars
The first in a thrilling new trilogy of epic proportions from best-selling children’s author Thalia Kalkipsakis. A fresh take on the time tripping genre, The Lifespan Of Starlight is Gattaca meets The Time Traveler’s Wife.
It already lies dormant within you: the ability to move within time.
In 2084, three teenagers discover the secret to time travel. At first their jumps cover only a few seconds, but soon they master the technique and combat their fear of jumping into the unknown.
It’s dangerous. It’s illegal. And it’s utterly worth it for the full-body bliss of each return.
As their ability to time jump grows into days and weeks, the group begins to push beyond their limits, with terrifying consequences. Could they travel as far as ten years, to escape the authorities? They are desperate enough to find out.
But before they jump they must be sure, because it only works in one direction. Once you trip forwards, there’s no coming back.
I am really glad that I got an advanced reading copy for this book, because I would never have picked up a book with a purple cover – I really don’t like purple….. The reading copy’s cover, however, is just a picture of the night sky and looked too cool not to take home from work with me! So now it is my job to tell people to ignore this cover please, because the story is still totally fascinating!
Scout is an ‘illegal’ in a futuristic world, where not having a microchip means no access to food, water and education. Due to her mother’s sacrifices and her own hacking ability, Scout has managed to survive undetected for fourteen years.
When Scout finds a dying homeless problem, she steals a microchip and her problems seem to be over. She applies to an elite high school and begins living as a normal citizen. But then she meets Mason and Boc, two teenagers who have been following the movements of her chip, and becomes aware of the possibility of time travel. The previous owner of Scout’s chip could travel in time and the boys, believing her to be the same woman, ask her to help them learn.
Under her vague tutelage, Mason manages to jump forward in time. Realising that it is possible, Scout begins to learn as well. However, the boys discover that her chip is not implanted; that she is illegal, and they no longer want to be involved with her.
It is a truly excellent futuristic novel, set in Australia. I liked reading about my own country and what it could amount to in the future. The story is written in the first person, by someone who is at a complete disadvantage in the system. Scout can’t even cross the road safely without a microchip. It raises interesting ideas about ‘illegals’, a particularly relevant issue in Australia, and offers another perspective on the politics in a very different kind of society.
Kalipsakis writes engagingly, and makes the time travel conventions very believable. I particularly liked that time travel backwards wasn’t possible – the teenagers can only move forwards. It made more sense to me that way.
Scout is probably a bit mature for fourteen, but I think that it is understandable that a child who spends a lot of time in their own company, knowing that they can’t interact normally in society, would be a bit more self-aware and mature than other children their age.
It is an incredibly detailed story, and somehow incredibly believable. I think I enjoyed it a lot in part because of the lack of romance – friendship is more important, as is Scout’s relationship with her mother. It also raises a dialogue about how society can decide that a person is ‘illegal’. It is an interesting story and I hope people can ignore the cover and pick it up!