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  • Writer's pictureTabitha Tomala

The Stars Within by Alex Arch 2023 SFINCs Book Review

SFINCS 2023 Championship Banner
SFINCS 2023 Championship Banner

This review is part of the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”. This is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.).

To see more information on my team Behind the Musings check out this post!

The Stars Within by Alex Arch book cover
The Stars Within by Alex Arch

Blurb for The Stars Within

Life finds a way, they say. Well, maybe life went too far. A dying star always shines brightest.

Thomas fights to beat cancer. Colette fights to save the human race.

A colonial miner crippled with debt, Thomas must flee his home to cure his recurring cancer. With his health declining at an alarming rate, his options are limited. Spend his last days surrounded by his loved ones or leave them behind for a slim chance to live. The choice is impossible, the prospect grim, and not for him alone.

A pragmatic military hero, Colette enrolls in a mission to thwart an alien invasion. She always gets the job done… unless Mia’s involved. She must then put her feelings aside as always or risk jeopardizing her assignment for the woman she once loved.

Two battles. Two realities. For one to succeed, the other must fail.


Book Review for The Stars Within

The Stars Within balances between an emotional plot line and an action-packed one. Colette’s team is on a mission to destroy the Radiants before they wipe out humanity. They are the last hope, yet they can’t seem to see eye to eye. Colette will have her hands full making the crew trust one another and act accordingly to succeed. Distrust runs rampant as past histories are revealed and treachery is found.

As Collete and her team search for the Radiants, Thomas’ story is told in parallel. Despite the fact he and his wife show up to work every day, debts continue to rise. And the outlook does not look good from Thomas’ cancer diagnosis. With a baby on the way, Thomas begins to regret the choices he made to work for The Company. They know full well cancer develops in their workers, yet do nothing to prevent the cause or help. Thomas will have to choose between staying to die with his family or leaving them behind in the hopes of finding treatment.

The character point of views seemed unrelated as the story developed. There were a few moments where readers could believe the two are beginning to meet, but these are cleverly placed misdirections. Though a little more connection between the two stories would have helped line the pieces up. It took a minute after reading to realize the ultimate tie in for the characters.

The Stars Within is a sci-fi story for those who also enjoy a healthy dose of emotion. Thomas’ struggle against cancer, and his desire to remain with his wife and soon to be born child is heartbreaking. Balanced alongside the emotions, are the close calls and intense moments for Collette and her crew.

To Purchase: Amazon

All or part of this book review may be used in marketing, I only ask that you reference Behind the Pages if you choose to do so.


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