***** (5) of 5 stars!
This book is incredible! The setting is a fairly typical sci-fi one: people in the future in a ship in space. But it is so much more than just that! It is ultimately about relationships, love, duty, honor, sorrow, anger, loss and basically everything that makes up the human condition.
The main character is Ethan Bryant, who has inadvertently become the Caretaker (hence the title) of 3,999 other souls, all in stasis, on the deep-space passenger transport ship he inhabits. Although he was supposed to be sleeping alongside them as passenger 4,000, events conspired to make that not occur. Now, as the story begins, Ethan has been alone on the ship for five years, with only the unconscious passengers and the disembodied computer voice for company. But things are about to get interesting!
The first part of the story is a little slow, as the author takes some time for world-building, setting the scene and developing some backstory for context. But much of the information gleaned through all of this proves useful later in the story. She does an excellent job of sketching a living portrait. The story just draws you in and makes you feel a part of it, and you quickly feel connected to the characters, even those in stasis, as you come to learn more about each of them.
There are so many great twists and turns in the story! I don’t want to offer any spoilers, but things changed so dramatically several times that it felt almost as though you were reading a different book each time. Except that the author kept the storyline integrated, plausible and intriguing enough that it just flowed from one section to the next, taking the reader along for a spectacular ride.
There were a couple more times where the action slowed down quite a bit; at least one where it seemed to stop. (Really, do we need to know so much about the manifest of the ship that Ethan transcribed?) But overall the pace was pretty steady and the action sufficient to keep things moving forward.
The ending was one that you could kind of see coming, but even it had some interesting zigzags that you wouldn’t necessarily consider. Many things about it were rather bittersweet, but they felt as though they were as they should be given the situation. The book answered enough questions and left a satisfied feeling so that it would be fine if read as a stand-alone novel, but it still offered many questions and openings where a sequel could realistically occur.
Definitely a book that I enjoyed and will recommend!