Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis
Published: April 2015 by Hardie Grant Egmont
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 stars
From the blurb: 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 the first book in a trilogy by Australian author Thalia Kalkipsakis. Set in the future, Australia is a very different place. Citizens are now microchipped and this chip allows them to move freely in society and gives them access to basic necessities like food and water, which are now rationed. Anyone who chose not to be chipped are now Illegals, these people are often turned in by citizens.
Fourteen year old Scout is an Illegal, she was never chipped. Her mum has managed to keep her a secret, they share her rations, and Scout has spent a lot of her life indoors or sneaking around. Thanks to a kind neighbour, she's great at hacking and uses her mum's compad to view and change things on the government's system. When she comes across the opportunity to steal a chip, she jumps at the chance, but this leads to her being followed by two boys, Mason and Boc. They think she's someone she's not and assume she can help them time travel.
I had no idea what I was in for when I began Lifespan of Starlight, I only knew that I usually avoid books about time travel as I find it hard to wrap my mind around the concept. But this was a really unique and clever way of looking at the topic. The futuristic setting was bleak, it's a world where the population is fully controlled and even your choice of employment or to give birth is made for you.
Scout is a clever and kind girl, she feels guilty for sharing her mother's rations, and all she wants to do is make it up to her one day. When the chip gives her a way of doing this she immediately sets about paying her mother back and wanting to give her things she's missed out on. She also revels in the chance to move among society legally, never having been able to even access cafes, stores, or trains. Befriending Mason makes up for what has been a very lonely life up until that point.
I really liked that the way to jump forward in time is via meditation, I don't think I've ever seen it referred to in a YA book, and if it has it's been with all the usual negativity. Using meditation as a way to skip time was also a good way of moving the story forward.
Though the story did move forward, I found it a little slow in parts, but the ending really picked up momentum and leads nicely into the sequel, which is out this month.
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for my ARC.