Book Review: The Necessity of Stars by E. Catherine Tobler

Genre : Science Fiction

Publisher : Neon Hemlock Press

Length : 80 pages

Format : eARC

Rating : 4 stars

Publication Date: July 20th 2021 


Plagued by the creeping loss of her memory, diplomat Bréone Hemmerli continues to negotiate peace in an increasingly climate-devastated world, ensconced in the UN-owned estate Irislands alongside her longtime friend and companion Delphine.

The appearance of the alien Tura in the shadows of Bréone’s garden raises new questions about the world’s decline. Perhaps, together, Tura and Bréone will find a way forward… if only Bréone can remember it.


Bréone Hemmerti is a diplomat living in France with her long-time friend and companion Delphine. She knows she can’t trust her memories and when she meets Tura, an alien in her garden one night, she doesn’t know if she imagined the interaction or if she’s losing her mind.

The Necessity of Stars is an atmospheric novella about friendships, memory and perception. Bréone and Delphine both are older women and I liked how the author discussed how women are often discarded when they are not seen as useful anymore.

Delphine is a retired scientist who used to work for the United Nations. Her entire career she tried to make people face inconvenient truths just to be ignored by politicians. And now that the end of humanity is here, now that Earth is unhabitable, it’s too late to do anything. Humans are spectators to their own demise.

This story had a dreamlike quality. The main character is slowly losing sense of what’s real and what’s not. She sometimes confuses memories with stories she was told, sometimes she thinks Delphine’s children are her own and days and days sometimes pass without her realizing it. The mental health of the character affects the narrative structure of the novella. Some parts appear to be missing while others are repeated which allows the reader to feel what Bréone is experiencing.

The non-linear structure also means that some parts of the book were a bit confusing. Like Bréone, I sometimes didn’t know how much time has passed, if some interactions were real and if Tura existed or not. The ending left me with a lot of questions but I think it suited the story. Also, for a story about a possible alien invasion and the end of the world, it was strangely hopeful. I’m now very curious to read E. Catherine Tobler’s future works.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. My thanks to Netgalley and Neon Hemlock Press for the ARC.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Necessity of Stars by E. Catherine Tobler

  1. This sounds very intriguing! I love climate based SF lately and the whole frustration of knowing climate change is coming and we never seem to do anything about it is so timely. I love the sound of this. 🙂


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