SPSFC Finalist Review: The Last Gifts of the Universe by Rory August

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, have combined with with 81 other scores (nine each from nine teams) to determine the SPSFC2 finalists, and three of our group have indeed found themselves among the final seven.

Today, we’ll be looking at the last of those three, a tale of two siblings looking for information about what befell the myriad dead civilizations dotting the galaxy: The Last Gifts of the Universe by Rory August.


Jay’s Review and Rating

The Last Gifts of the Universe is a really excellent book, and I’ll be unpleasantly surprised if it doesn’t garner a place in the finals [Ed.: not unpleasantly surprised!]. There were a few immersion-breaking moments that held me back from a five-star rating, but there are plenty of five-star elements here, led by the outstanding interpersonal character work. The romantic subplot, the exploration of grief, and the focus on the little moments that change lives all make it well worth the read, and the central plot is a whole lot of fun as well. Recommend!

Jay has rated The Last Gifts of the Universe 8/10. For more detail, check out his full review.

Josh’s Review and Rating

The Last Gifts of the Universe kind of blew me away to some extent: it’s a really well written short novel dealing with life in a universe where every other civilization has seemingly died out and where the end is inevitable, and how people might go on and live despite all that and despite the grief they may feel amidst all the death. And with its really easy to relate main protagonist, and some flashbacks to a love story that is incredibly well written, the book tugs on the heartstrings incredibly well, even if it’s not super profound. This will be a strong contender not just to be a finalist but to win the SPSFC based just on my read.

Josh has rated The Last Gifts of the Universe 9/10. For more detail, check out his full review.

Matt’s Review and Rating

Matt was not able to read and score The Last Gifts of the Universe before the completion of the round. His score will be listed as Did Not Attempt, which does not affect the overall rating.

Sarah’s Review and Rating

Two siblings and their cat in space? What a fun time! The writing is on point and I loved the sibling dynamic. I also appreciated that the corporate hire antagonists were layered and not one-dimensional. There’s a lot of depth here while remaining a very readable, entertaining story with characters to care about. And when you reach the story’s namesake, it’s very moving.

Sarah has rated The Last Gifts of the Universe 8/10.

Official Scores

Jay 8
Josh 9
Matt DNA
Sarah 8
Team 8.33


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