Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis

Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis
Young adult, speculative fiction, science fiction
April 2015, Hardie Grant Egmont
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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.

Lifespan of Starlight is like nothing I've ever read. This speculative time travel adventure takes place in an impeccably imaged futuristic Melbourne, features refreshingly original time travel mythology and adds a distinctively Australia twang to the cacophony of YA dystopian narration. The strength of the exquisite worldbuilding is built on Kalkipsakis' skilful transformation of the concerns of contemporary Australian society – the unequal allocation of resources, the encroaching government surveillance of every aspect of life, the ignorance of the privileged, even a stab at the sketchiness of underpaid young labour (which I read during the lunch break of my unpaid internship, hmmm).

Scout is a smart, intriguing and sympathetic heroine. While its hinted at, romance appropriately takes a backseat – Scout is a fourteen-year-old ‘illegal’ who shouldn’t technically exist, trying to avoid discovery by her hostile government who doesn’t recognise that refuses her the rights of a citizen, after all. Realistically, she’s kind-of sometimes distracted by the cute boy in the room, but not so distracted that she ever forgets her own precarious situation, or her beloved, selfless mother, who is potentially implicated in Scout’s illegal time-skipping activity.

There were times that Lifespan of Starlight approached dramatics of the overly romantic and overly extreme nature, but to my delight, Thalia Kalkipsakis ultimately managed to avoid them, instead delivering an intense, pacey cliffhanger ending that had me clamouring for the second instalment of this new spec fic trilogy.
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