The Last Gifts of the Universe

By Rory August

Rating: 3 stars

This is a story about death and grief wrapped in an adventure story about chasing after artefacts from long-dead civilisations. Scout and Keiran are siblings, working for the Archivists, searching the stars for caches from civilisations that have come before theirs and which appear to have been snuffed out, leaving them alone in the universe. They hope to find something that might let them discover what wiped out the others and hopefully stop the same thing happening to them.

But behind all the running around and arguing that “it belongs in a museum!” (yes, of course there’s unscrupulous competitors wanting the booty for themselves), there’s the story of a woman telling the story of her life, and a quiet parallel with Scout’s own life.

I didn’t realise until probably too late what kind of book this was. Like Scout, I was focused on the adventure and the planet-killer, only realising right at the end that I’d been looking in all the wrong places. It’s quietly life-affirming, reminding us to live in the now and to make our lives worthwhile, no matter how long or short they may be.

It’s definitely a book that deserves a re-read, with that placed front and centre. The thing is, like many of us, I don’t want to think about death. Especially death of my loved ones, so I don’t know that I’ll give it that extra shot.

Book details

Year of publication: 2022

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