The Calculating Stars was an absolutely amazing book. As a big fan of the Writing Excuses podcast, I was already somewhat familiar with the author and already knew that she was a good audiobook narrator. Her performance really blew my expectations out of the park. The characters’ voices and emotions are all unique and added an extra layer to the story.
The story itself was fantastic too. In the 1950s, a meteorite hit the Earth, causing mass devastation to East Coast of the US and ongoing climate change issues. In response to the climate cataclysm, everyone started looking up to the stars to escape the Earth before it becomes unliveable. The story follows Dr Elma York, a former WASP pilot and a mathematician as she and her husband work for International Aerospace Coalition in the attempts to set up a colony in space.
Elma is faced with all of the challenges of society in the 50s. Sexism is extremely common, and she is constantly fighting to have women pilots admitted to the space program and trained as astronauts. There are also frequent mentions of the struggles PoCs and, more specifically, WoCs face in being accepted in the workforce.
The characters were really well written throughout the story. The main character suffers from anxiety, and I really loved the way the author described her realising this and coming with ways to deal with it. Kowal does a particularly good job with building deep intricate relationships between the different characters.
The one thing I will warn people about with this book is that the sex scenes contain a lot of rocketry innuendos. I didn’t have too much of an issue with it, but I do know a couple of people who found them a bit much.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Calculating Stars, and highly recommend it to people who enjoy the following:
- Powerful women
- Deep and intricate characters
- Apocalypse stories
- Historical Fantasy
- Gender and race politics
- First person POV
I also highly recommend this book in audio format if you like audiobooks. Kowal does a phenomenal job with her narration.