Tuesday, July 19, 2016

And All the Stars

by Andrea K. Höst

Story summary: At first: survival under weird, mysterious circumstances! Then: friendship and The Three Musketeers! After that: plot twists and aliens!

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • See all the exclamation points in the story summary?
  • It's very Australian!
  • At least one of the twists made me want to go back to the beginning and reread from there. (That's by far the best kind of twist.)

And Why You Might Not:
  • There are definitely reasons why you might not like this book, but as I discuss in my thoughts below, Höst's books confuse me somewhat. You'll have to read my thoughts to get a better idea, but my recommendation is to read one of her books yourself and figure it out.
  • For those concerned about sexual content in YA books, there is some here. Not a lot, mostly just one particular scene.

Thoughts: I'm starting to get a feel for Höst now, to understand what to expect when I read her books. She likes lone girl survival (see also Touchstone trilogy). She likes surprise twists that change your whole perspective on the book so far, especially when these twists are to do with the romance (see the Medair duology, though I liked the twist both a lot more and less in that one...it's complicated...). She likes stoic male leads (see... every book I've read by her, I think). She often has one or two characters I love, but then the rest I almost like but end up not feeling connected to at all even if they seem like they should appeal to me.

In other words, she really is a strange mix of things for me. I always end up being slightly disappointed upon finishing a book by her, and yet quite eager to start the next book. She has the kind of book that I make sure to save up, because sometimes I need to read a book that I know will be enjoyable. She has the kind of characters that make me hope so much for a certain outcome in their development, and then being confused and discontented when it actually happens. But the fact that I do hope so strongly makes the reading experience worth it in the end.

I don't have many thoughts on the book in particular besides this, but here are a few comments, at least (translate spoilers using rot13):

  • The description of the alien substance the protagonist comes across in the beginning was lovely. There is nothing that gets to me (in a good way) quite so much as stars.
  • Pan was my favourite for quite a while. That discussion Madeleine had with him in the middle about his relationships was great. But he turned into one of the ideal examples of her characters that I feel like I should love, but don't for inexplicable reasons. I'm going to have to keep reading her books and pay special attention to how she develops her characters. I think maybe he didn't feel like his development deserved his epicness in the second half of the book?
  • Spoilers for both the Medair dulogy and this book: Gur ebznapr jnf n jrveq zvk, zhpu yvxr Zrqnve. Ohg va Zrqnve V npghnyyl ernyyl, ernyyl yvxrq bar bs gur ybir vagrerfgf (Xrve Vrfxne), juvpu znqr vg gung zhpu zber fngvfslvat jura ur ghearq bhg gb or bar, ohg gung zhpu zber qvfnccbvagvat gung ur jnfa'g gur cevznel bar. Urer V qvqa'g yvxr rvgure nf zhpu, nygubhtu gur nyvra unq terng cbgragvny. Ohg V arire sryg yvxr lbh tbg gb xabj uvf uhzna irefvba ng nyy, fb vg sryg gb zr yvxr gung ebznapr whfg pnzr bhg bs guva nve jvgubhg rabhtu onfvf. V qhaab... V pbhyq qb zber nanylmvat, ohg yrg'f yrnir vg jvgu gur snpg gung V gubhtug vg jnf jrveq naq hanccrnyvat.

Cover note: it is both quite nice and actually totally true to the story. Surprisingly uncommon, that.

Grade: 3 1/2 stars

If You Like This, You Might Also Like:
  • K, this recommendation is spoilery. Translate the coded part with rot13, but only if you've read And All the Stars! Seriously! Ok, here goes: Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci: Mostly just because of gur fyvtugyl fhecevfvat nyvra/uhzna ebznapr. But also (for a non-spoiler element) because the beginning of both books start with a girl trying to survive alone in a hostile, scifi environment.
  • Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman: Because it's also Australian and there are aliens and (slight spoiler for AAtS): vg unf n fgebat sbphf ba gur eryngvbafuvc orgjrra n uhzna naq nyvra (gubhtu abg ebznagvp guvf gvzr).
  • The only other recommendations I can think of right now are the standard teens-group-together-to-fight-the-apocalypse stories, like The Maze Runner by James Dashner and Gone by Michael Grant and the Buffy TV series. The LOST TV series would also fit well with its mysterious happenings and group effort. I'm not satisfied with any of these recs, because they have a fairly different feel than this book, but it's the best I can do at the moment.

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