In the Dark Spaces (Cally Black, Hardie Grant Egmont)
All Tamara wants is a safe space to live with her aunt and baby cousin, a place where she doesn’t have to hide and where they can talk louder than a whisper. Then their spaceship is attacked by a strange alien race, and Tamara’s tiny family is torn apart. Captured and forced to leave behind baby Tamiki, Tamara’s survival—and Tamiki’s—hinges on her ability to learn an alien language and perhaps even manage to broker peace between two groups who literally can’t communicate. A story of survival, Cally Black’s Ampersand Prize-winning debut is a violent, dark science-fiction novel set in a future where only the extremely wealthy remain on Earth and everyone else struggles to survive on other planets or aboard spaceships. While there is some great world-building going on here, it does feel a little patchy and the story comes to a rather abrupt ending. That said, this is certainly an interesting and action-packed story about the lengths to which a person will go to find their family and how there are always two sides to every story. It will appeal to sci-fi fans aged 14 and up.
Meg Whelan is the children’s book buyer at the Hill of Content Bookshop