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The Cruel Stars

(The Cruel Stars #1)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  368 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Five intrepid heroes must unite to save civilization after a long-dormant enemy awakens and strikes a devastating blow in this epic sci-fi adventure for fans of The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica.

"Frenetic action viewed in a black fun-house mirror."--Kirkus Reviews

The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, a group of "species purists" intent on destroying any human wi
Hardcover, 412 pages
Published August 20th 2019 by Del Rey Books
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Groucho42 The epilogue was clear: there will be a sequel.

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Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  368 ratings  ·  87 reviews

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I love space operas, space books of all sorts so I jumped at the chance to read The Cruel Stars. At first I couldn't get into the book and to be honest I think it was my mood and not the book. There were so many people in the book, I thought I would never get what was going on. That being said, I'm not one hundred percent sure of things that happened, but I got the jist of it and started to love it.

There are five groups of individuals that are going through one thing or another. This is what th
Karen’s Library
The Cruel Stars is a military sci-fi space opera along the lines of The Expanse meets Altered Carbon and I really enjoyed it.

In the first chapters we get the POVs of 5 interesting characters: Lucinda, who ships out to her newest assignment on the warship Defiant; Professor McLennan (my personal favorite), the gruff curmudgeon astroarcheologist/historian; Sephina the space pirate (along with her motley lovable crew); 12 year old Princess Alessia; and prisoner Corporal Booker who was on death row
The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, "species purists" intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements. They cut a bloody swath across the stars, killing countless people before finally being defeated. Centuries later, this sect has returned, close to the brink of victory. Now five people must work together to stand against the invaders.

3.5 stars.

Going into this book there were a lot of characters and info thrown at the reader, so it took a while to get used to
Christi M
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, sci-fi
To me, space opera's are just so much fun. An adventure across an entire galaxy is just so entertaining because it allows you to imagine bigger than what reality is. But while I enjoyed this story, it did have a bumpy beginning for me.

Always on the look out for a new space opera, I was very happy to get a copy of this one to read and review. The book is primarily from 5 different points of views, one of which is the story bad guy, Sturm, although his chapters are more limited than the o
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in exchange for an honest review.

Thousands of years in the future, humanity has brought space travel to a whole new level and now, for most people, space and space colonies are the only thing they know. As well as new planetary discoveries, technology has advanced to a point when most people don't need to learn skills - they can just download them, and for the more privileged person, death doesn't truly exist - they can be regenerated again and ag
Lauren Stoolfire
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Cruel Stars is my first John Birmingham novel. It's a space opera that I was really looking forward to, but unfortunately it never quite got into it as much as I was hoping to. There are a lot of characters (there are five perspective characters) and quite a bit going on. I liked the overall story and action once I got into it, but the characters weren't quite what I was hoping for.
Thoroughly entertaining space opera - excellent world building and scenario and some brilliant characters. There are laughs along the way (the hedge trimmer scene lingers in the mind!) as well as heart ache and intense action (lots of dismembered limbs flying around). I really enjoyed it. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
I enjoy space opera and was very pleased that netgalley gave me a chance to check out this book. The first few chapters took me a bit to get into - we have five main characters, and I really liked some of their points of view/events a lot more than others. But then things started happening - big things! And from then on, the action never stopped. Looking back, that setup in the first few chapters was necessary, and I absolutely loved how everything came together.
4.5 stars
Liz Barnsley
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this.
It came along just when I needed a bookish adventure and The Cruel Stars was full of adventure. Well and a naked professor, a sarcastic intelligence, a flustered captain and a whole host of bad guys. Plus a princess, a pirate, a hedge trimmer (making me laugh quite a lot) and a few other good guys. I mean really, what’s not to love?
The world building is beautifully done giving you a sense of the scene that lights up the action. A motley group of survivors battling away, the group dy
3.5 / 5 stars

NetGalley furnished me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Cruel Stars is a space opera set in a black-and-white world populated by vibrant and interesting characters. It chronicles the return of an old enemy, once defeated—the Sturm, a radical group of human purists set on purging the galaxy of any they don’t see as genetically pure. Where initially the world seems well-thought out and complete, it quickly becomes clear that the story is set en
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: The Cruel Starts
Author: John Birmingham
Publisher: Random House/Ballantine/Del Rey
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Review Date: April 27, 2019

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb:
“With a ruthless sect of humanity intent on wiping out their species, five intrepid heroes must think like their enemies in this epic sci-fi adventure for fans of The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica.

The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, a group of “spe
This is a fun remix of all your favorite sci-fi tropes with a colorful cast of characters and some exciting action sequences. The book takes place over a very short span of time, focusing on a few different characters as a long-dormant enemy launches a surprise attack on this one human-controlled solar system. The book does not stray outside of that solar system, but does imply that similar adventures are occurring at the same time all over the galaxy. It's an interesting choice to introduce suc ...more
Casey Wheeler
This book was a huge disappointment and a slog to get through. The author tries to present the viewpoints from five different characters without making any of them interesting nor the overall storyline engaging. A number of other reviewers seemed to enjoy this book, but it did not resonate with me in any way.

I received a free Kindle ARC courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would provide an honest review and post it on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five different stories with five different characters. All come together when the need is the greatest. Fast paced action with interesting backstories and world building. This is a must for military space opera readers.
David Fleming
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic space opera

A great range of likeable characters and richly imagined future societies. Best hard sci-fi I have read since Peter F Hamilton at the top of his game
Alexander Tas
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Initially reviewed at The Quill To Live -

There is something alluring about military science fiction. It takes the massive volume of space and narrows it to a single point: conflict. Often, this specific genre ignores a lot of the more nuanced questions that sci-fi often proposes in favor of a single query: what would humanity do in order to survive? Normally, I miss this complexity and nuance, but every now and then I want an action-focused romp against an easily discernible bad guy that defin
Dale (Aus)
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read

The strength in the books I love is always in the characters. This is one of those. Great characters you can really get behind, sometimes irreverent sometimes flawed but that makes them more worthy. From then on the story just takes you and them for a great ride. Not everyone survives, but then it would be a comic book and not a story that brings you back. Loved it and look forward to lots more.
Allan Dunbar
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best he's ever done

Roaring action that leaps off the page and punches you in the face. Some of the most memorable characters and scenes ever. Birmingham at his best.

If you're a tech head then this has it all too. The tech is super cool and interesting.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, 2019
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

2 stars

initial thoughts:
- too many characters
- severely insufficient worldbuilding, cool but inconsistent & confusing sci-fi aspects
- unnecessary levels of gore/violence
- too much action, not enough story, even though murdering space nazis is fun
- utterly unrealistic depiction of military, 12 year olds and queer individuals
- is a stand-alone but felt like it should be a series
- mediocre writing at best
- somehow, in
Chandra Mohl
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Got this book at Emerald City Comicon from the Del Ray Booth. Its an advanced readers copy but even so I thought it was really good! I'm not usually into scifi all that much but I found this one rather thrilling to read. Definitely would recommend when it comes out!
Joanna Bennett
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Here’s the thing, I don’t know if it was just me but I just couldn’t get into this book like I wanted. The synopsis sounded fantastic and the cover is amazing but it just didn’t live up to the ideals in my head.

I am usually one that loves multiple point of views but it was hard to follow along in this particular book. I didn’t find myself connecting with the characters or feeling interested in their lives or their quest to save earth. It didn’t feel like they had much character development. The
Patrick St-Denis
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I was intrigued when I received my advance reading copy of John Birmingham's The Cruel Stars, especially since the blurb mentioned that it was perfect for fans of James S. A. Corey's The Expanse. I was expecting space opera with depth and vision, even though this was a stand-alone novel.

Alas, it was anything but that. The Cruel Stars is a fun and action-packed scifi romp that doesn't take itself too seriously, no doubt about it. But like any big-budget movie relying on special effects rather tha
Realms & Robots
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Cruel Stars shouts science fiction epic from the start, rolling through a wildly expansive cast of characters ranging from a war criminal on death row to a Princess on the run. It’s a high tech world on the brink of extinction at the hands of an enemy who wants to purify the human race. Birmingham has the writing chops to make it a thrilling ride.


I was amazed at the range of protagonists featured throughout the story. I can’t recall a larger set of characters and somehow it
Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it
In previous works, Birmingham has delivered cracking sf battle scenes and some truly ugly stereotypes about non-Westerners. This book, set in a far future that’s supposed to have completely different cultures after the diaspora from Earth, provides mostly the former. Based on his past work, I side-eyed casual references to specific Earth cultures that various of his characters seemed to think provided good stock (Japanese, nonracially specified South African) but that wasn’t a big enough part of ...more
Joey De La Torre
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hits the ground running in a barrage of action & comedy. 💥🤣

I don't consider myself well-read. I never took any writing classes. I don't know what's needed to properly tell a story, build a world, or develop characters. But I know what I like, and that's action. Call me uncultured, call me a shallow reader, but I love it when a book takes me on an adventure at a million mph, and The Cruel Stars does that in spades. 👍

There are 6 different characters you follow, and the first 6 chapters are ded
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, netgalley
*With thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

I was not familiar with the author, John Birmingham, so I freely admit that I had no expectations as to the quality of the writing or plotting, I was simply suckered in by the gorgeous cover. I am happy to say, I was not disappointed.

"The Cruel Stars" is the best of what I look for in science fiction. There are space ships, space battles, folding space in order to travel vast distances,
Laura Kehoe
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm a huge Science Fiction fan and particularly love books that take place in space or on different planets. Throw in a dangerous enemy and some strong characters, and you've created a book tat is right up  my alley. At least in theory. I did enjoy The Cruel Stars and there were plenty of parts I thought were great, but overall, I was a little disappointed in this one. 

One thing that threw me off right away was the fact that there were quite a few different perspectives, but no real connection b
John Purvis
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The Cruel Stars" eBook was published in 2019 and was written by John Birmingham. Mr. Birmingham has published more than 30 books. 

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. The story is set in the far future. The Sturm of the "Human Republic" see any humans who have genetic or cybernetic enhancements as traitors to the species and deserving ex
Jodie King
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
THREE AND A HALF STARS. I received an ARC of The Cruel Stars at SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) by answering a series of questions on an iPad questionnaire designed to pick the perfect new book for me (they called this process the Book Wizard and it was super fun, for the record).

I was a little dubious when I started reading the novel--I read a pretty good amount of sci-fi, but I tend to prefer soft sci-fi over hard sci-fi, and I don't think I've ever read military sci-fi. But I decided to give it a
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: The Cruel Stars [April 30, 2019] 11 9 May 01, 2019 06:29PM  
John Birmingham grew up in Ipswich, Queensland and was educated at St Edmunds Christian Brother's College in Ipswich and the University of Queensland in Brisbane. His only stint of full time employment was as a researcher at the Defence Department. After this he returned to Queensland to study law but he did not complete his legal studies, choosing instead to pursue a career as a writer. He curren ...more

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The Cruel Stars (2 books)
  • The Dead Skies (The Cruel Stars Trilogy Book 2)