ARC Review: The Last Gifts of the Universe


The Last Gifts of the Universe by Rory August

Author Rory August packs a lot into this 200-ish page debut novel. 

I mean that in the best way possible. It’s fun yet thought provoking. It’s got great characters and a great storyline. It’s a sci-fi novel that's also an exploration of love and relationships. It has scary monsters, long dead civilizations, a race to unravel clues to an ancient mystery, and a pair of siblings and their cat traveling through the stars.

So what’s it about? Well, let’s start with Scout, who tells this story. Scout is an Archivist. Archivists are tasked with traveling the universe studying dead civilizations - and they are all dead. As the Home worlds have ventured out into the cosmos they’ve discovered that they are very much alone. Something terrible has happened to every other civilization out there. While there are clues to what may have happened it’s not well understood. But it’s expected that whatever happened on these other worlds is coming for the Home worlds.

Scout and Kieran are siblings. Kieran takes care of piloting the ship and doing all the technical stuff while Scout looks for anything left behind by these dead civilizations that might help the Home worlds. Their cat Pumpkin travels along with them. Pumpkin isn’t a house (or spaceship) cat. No, Pumpkin suits up and explores worlds just the same as Scout and Kieran. 

When Scout unearths a message from Blyreena, it’s clear that this discovery could be very important to the fate of the Home worlds. Blyreena is an alien from the Stelhari civilization, who seems to have first hand knowledge of their last stand against the entity that destroyed their worlds.

Unfortunately for Scout and Kieran, as they attempt to take a backup of the holographic message, it’s taken from them by operatives of Verity. The bad guy of the story, Verity is a corporation that seeks to profit by patenting alien technologies and selling them to the highest bidders. Suddenly a race is on to uncover more messages from the Stelhari. 

As the story unfolds Scout learns more about Blyreena and her life, as the partial backup message slowly unfolds. August does a great job tying together Blyreena’s story, the race to uncover more messages, and the backstory of why Scout, Kieran and Pumpkin are out here among the stars in the first place. The result is humorous, full of action, emotionally rewarding, and will tug at your heartstrings. 

I really enjoyed this book. It will appeal to fans of science fantasy and space exploration, who like a lighter edge and a bit of humor. It’s also likely to appeal to YA fantasy readers. Fans of LGBTQ stories will appreciate the trans representation that Scout’s first person perspective brings.

Mostly though I’d recommend it for its exploration of love - love between spouses, love between siblings, love between parents and children. That is the heart of The Last Gifts of the Universe. Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

NOTE: I received an advanced reviewer’s copy of this book from the author and BookSirens, and am voluntarily providing this honest review. The book is self-published and will be available as a Kindle ebook starting April 7, 2022.

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Title: The Last Gifts of the Universe
Author: Rory August
Publisher: Self Published
Publish Date: April 7, 2022
Publisher’s List Price: $2.99 (Kindle ebook as of 02/2022)