Starganauts – C.E. Stone

Starganauts by C.E. Stone
Published by Knightstar Publishing on June 19, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Speculative
Buy on Amazon

The end of Earth was their beginning.
Kaity Anderson was a new bride on her wedding day. Samantha Harris was an engineer who had given up all to follow God.
Kaity’s reception is ruined when an alien gunship incinerates the surface of Earth. Rescued from the apocalypse by a strange prophetess, Kaity, her husband, and five others are drawn across the galaxy. While the prophetess promises God has a plan, Kaity grows increasingly desperate as their chances of survival—and water supply—dwindle.
Samantha didn’t ask to be God’s prophetess. Yet once she answers the call, the Spirit leads her to an inhospitable world with Kaity and several of Earth’s survivors. Hounded by the master of the gunship, the Earthlings search for water as their alien pursuers and dehydration close in. Only God’s promise of a future in a distant city gives Samantha any hope of survival. But could the answer to all their problems lie in eight, mysterious orbs? The discovery of these crystals will change their lives—and the destiny of galaxies—forever.
Thus begins Starganauts, a clean, compelling Christian space opera adventure by C.E. Stone. Fans of Star Wars and Star Trek will enjoy this series that explores how God’s plan prevails, even against impossible odds.

The first sentence of the back cover blurb should have told me everything I needed to know about this book: Kaity Anderson was a new bride on her wedding day. That’s right. She was a new bride on her wedding day. As opposed to what else, exactly? In the About the Author section, C.E. Stone writes that she created the world of Starganauts at the age of ten, and, unfortunately that’s exactly the way the book comes across. The writing is amateurish at best; the plot is all over the place; there’s absolutely no sense of dramatic tension; and the moral of the story will be regurgitated in character conversations all throughout the book.

The plot of Starganauts, the best I can figure out, follows Earth’s last survivors as they try to find a new home. All seems lost until they come across eight mysterious orbs that transform them into the Starganauts—knockoff Power Rangers with superpowers. From here, it’s all about finding the bad guys and saving the day. The plot goes everywhere and nowhere all at the same time, throwing characters and action at us, then taking pages and pages to recite their history and call it character development. It’s disjointed, difficult to follow, and unpleasant to read.

Early on in the book, Earth is destroyed. Only one character, a prophetess, has advance notice and has built a spaceship to take those who will listen off-world. In the end, only eight people enter the Ark—uhh The Deliverer—and are whisked away just as the planet is destroyed. This is how the characters react.

“We wanted an unforgettable honeymoon,” she [Kaity] said bitterly, “This fits the bill, in so many negative ways.”

“I’m so sorry,” Sharko murmured, his voice breaking. “I wanted to give you a better wedding night than this—a better honeymoon—a better life.”

“I still feel bad…” Sharko began. Kaity put a hushing finger to his lips.”

“Don’t! God is with us, and we can still have a good marriage.

A few pages later, we’re told more about how Kaity and Sharko’s relationship is faring.

“Learning to be a wife and a love was a joy, yet her heart still throbbed with pain. Her parents’ faces on that final day haunted her. They would still be alive, she thought chokingly, if they hadn’t insisted on gathering stuff. Plain, worthless, miserable *stuff*!”

The asterisks for emphasis are in the original and I promise you that I am making none of this up. Earth gets blown up, but hey, they can still have a good marriage. WHAT EVEN ARE THESE PRIORITIES??? And every character is like this. They are one-dimensional caricatures of some emotional trait and absolutely nothing else. Yet, Stone seemingly has fully thought-out backstories for everyone and every character is described ad nauseum. I’ve never read so much about a character and learned so little.

The moralism in the book is constant and, to be frank, often harmful. Should Sharko feel bad about the destruction of Earth and seven billion people? Nah. God’s with them (and they can still have a good marriage). NO. FEEL BAD. JESUS WEPT OVER THE DEATH OF ONE PERSON AND HE BROUGHT THAT PERSON BACK TO LIFE. The constant fake cheeriness in the face of evil and despair is not only unrealistic, it’s unbiblical. There’s a whole book called Lamentations that’s about the destruction of a city. Jeremiah didn’t just say “Don’t feel bad. God’s with us.” He wrestled over what had been lost. And that’s not even getting into the sanctimonious judgmentalism we see based on those who didn’t get in the ship. Kaity’s parents, for instance, wanted to cash out some bank accounts first. BEFORE THEY LEFT THE EARTH??? I’m just at a loss for what these characters are doing, what their motivations are, or why the author thinks they should act this way.

It sounds like a child’s story, because it is a child’s story. There are characters named Sharko and Dudeman, for crying out loud! Maybe, perhaps, potentially as middle grade fiction Starganauts could have worked as a concept. You would still have to contend with the grade school level writing and melodrama, but it would be more fitting to the characters and the story. Obviously, Stone cares about these characters and loves this world. That’s fine. And, also obviously—judging by other reviews—there are people who can overlook the novel’s presentation and enjoy the universe she’s created. I don’t know how. Starganauts is a passion project and I commend Stone for the work she’s put into a world she obviously loves. That love does not translate into good writing. This is not a good book.