SPSFC Semifinalist Review: Dim Stars by Brian P. Rubin

After whittling our initial 28-book allotment down to three, my SPSFC2 team has received six more semifinalists from other judging teams. Our scores of these six new books, along with our original three semifinalists, will combine with with 81 other scores (nine each from nine teams) to determine the SPSFC2 finalists.

Each of the six books we’re reviewing this round comes with a recommendation from another blogger judging this competition, and almost all of them come with multiple strong recommendations from members of their first-round judging team. So keep in mind when you read our reviews that they are only our own thoughts, and they do not exist in a vacuum. And as always, remember that our opinions are our own, and a book not working for one or more of us does not mean it isn’t well worth reading.

So much for the standard caveats, let’s get to the book! Today, we’re looking at a wild young adult space opera, Dim Stars by Brian P. Rubin.


Jay’s Review and Rating

Dim Stars is a zany space opera designed for readers who enjoy watching flawed people make absurd mistake after absurd mistake. . . and perhaps as the story progresses, learn to do something right. It’s an easy read, there are hijinks aplenty, and there’s enough plot and character development to keep things fresh for the full length of the novel. But while it may be a solid example of the subgenre, it’s not a story that goes above and beyond in a way that will draw the attention of readers from outside its niche.

Jay has rated Dim Stars 6/10. For more detail, check out his full review.

Josh’s Review and Rating

Dim Stars is solid. But is it any more than that? I’ve seen the embittered jaded maybe not all they’re said to be hero meets idolizing young super talented teen story many a time – its almost an old fashioned type story at this point. And Dim Stars doesn’t really take it in any new directions, it just plays the hits largely, so you’ll see a lot of “twists” coming if you have any reading experience at all. If it’s a young reader’s first introduction to such a story arc, I suppose Dim Stars will work out better, but even then, there just isn’t all that much here to wow a reader and make them super excited.

Josh has rated Dim Stars 6/10. For more detail, check out his full review.

Matt’s Review and Rating

Dim Stars creates a fun cast of character foils to crew a ship in this middle-grade to young-adult space adventure. At the heart of the story is whip-smart Kenzie, our teen protagonist, navigating the haplessness of her heretofore hero, Captain Dash, through comedically staged trials. Author, Brian P. Rubin’s attention to the non-humanoid supporting cast (cephalopod, rock-folk, droid, bugs) works to entertaining effect and the story gets better as it goes. There are big vibes of Pixar meets Star Wars: Rebels here.

Matt has rated Dim Stars 6/10.

Sarah’s Review and Rating

 The humor in this silly yet self-aware story didn’t really land for me, particularly the focus on belittling crew members. I did, however, ultimately appreciate some of the character arcs and the theme around things not always being what they seem, including those you perceive as heroes. The pacing was done well and had a good balance of action and character moments throughout.

Sarah has rated Dim Stars 6/10.

Official Scores

Jay 6
Josh 6
Matt 6
Sarah 6
Team 6.0


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