Years ago, a friend recommended a book to me. (I followed up with him, recently, he can't recall it either). I bought the book used and started to read it. Then, my bag (book included) was stolen. I didn't follow up with the book for several reasons. Much later on, I decided to go back to that novel.
I can't recall the name. I went back to Powell's several times, in roughly the spot I found it before, but have had no success in locating it.
The first chapter or so involved the following: humanity had finally advanced enough to explore space. One ship on the fringes of known space encountered some ominously powerful alien that annihilated their ship without explanation. As a whole, humanity retreated and regrouped and then ventured out again with stronger, more advanced ships. This cycled happened repeatedly until humanity was all but eradicated. The chapter(s) wrapped with something like the last of humanity (I feel like either she was a genetically modified human or even an android) being left on a planet alone. The book ostensibly was going to be her journey, what she discovered about this force and how she carried humanity forward.
I have no idea if this book is even any good, but the fact that I can't find it and have been looking for it for years has made me intensely curious about the rest of the tale. I feel like it was only a few hundred pages. It was an older novel - late 20th century(?)
Does anyone know what this is?