“Why are you important, Trey?”
“I’m important to you because I hold your destiny in my hand”
I have a confession to make.
I am in love with Amy A. Bartol’s writing. Over the past couple of days I have fallen deeply, sickeningly, madly in love with the world Bartol created in Under Different Stars. So much so that I felt that agonizing desire to read more and more and yet wanting to make the story last just so you could enjoy it a bit longer.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Under Different Stars tells the story of Kricket Hollowed, who has spent her seventeen years of life dodging foster care. She isn’t normal by any means – with violet eyes and blonde hair that grows back instantly when you try to cut it, Kricket knows there’s something different about her. But all she truly cares about is that with her eighteenth birthday she will get what she has craved for for so long – her freedom. But before she can get there, otherworldly men (literally!) show up who say they want to take her home. And home isn’t anywhere on Earth.
Overall, Amy A. Bartol built a similar yet in some ways strikingly different world in Ethar (an anagram for Earth, for sure) and it was delicious to discover little bits and pieces from Kricket’s point of view, who, for all intents and purposes, is as clueless as we are because she was raised on Earth. In fact, it’s such a different world that you will find differences in their speech (lurker! knob knocker!), time (a day is a rotation! An hour is a part!) their food, and especially their society and their political system. Having someone raised on Earth who is part Rafe and part Alameeda who ends up having special powers puts the political consequences at the core of the book and the actions of the characters – especially when we discover there is an old prophecy that states that one of the houses will fall after the arrival of someone who sounds a lot like Krickett. On a side note, I really hope there are more details about this prophecy in the next book; it was one of the most interesting things about this story and I felt like it wasn’t duly developed.
“They can’t let the rat escape the lad, can they? It could infect more rats, and then their other rats wouldn’t be so very special now, would they?”
Under Different Stars is a daring, bold novel, and it was easy to make me fall madly in love from the first few chapters. I could’ve easily given it five stars if at one point I didn’t get truly angry with this book – in the way you can only ever be angry when you love everything else about the story – because Kricket, who as an Alameeda priestess has amazing talents, starts being scouted more for her looks than the amazing competitive advantage she could bring to any political disagreement. Really?
But you shouldn’t let these minor flaws keep you from reading this novel. It’s a deeply moving, entrancing story that has built enough story to make you look forward to the next installment.
Recommended for: Anyone who is not opposed in principle to YA (maybe NA?) dystopian novels
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An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange of an honest review