Saturday, February 17, 2018

BOOK REVIEW | Our Dark Stars by Audrey Gray and Krystal Wade

Title: Our Dark Stars
Authors: Audrey Gray and Krystal Wade
Series? Yes, at least I assume so from the ending!
Pages: 316
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Blaze Publishing
Source: I received an e-galley of Our Dark Stars via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. :) Thank you to Netgalley and Blaze Publishing!
While she sleeps, the whole universe changes.

Princess Talia Starchaser has it all. Wealth. Status. Adoring citizens. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she’s forced to publicly betray her best friend, a companion mock she’s had since birth, setting events into motion that lead to the destruction of the humans, and the princess floating through space, a remnant of a time when humans ruled over droids.

One hundred years later, half-mock captain Will Perrault and his ragtag crew discover a device floating in space. When a very human Talia emerges from its depths, Will suspects she’s the key to buying his way back into the regiment he once commanded against the last remaining rebel humans—and the ruling mock queen’s good graces.

Both Talia and Will would rather get space-tossed than trust one another, but with the queen’s forces chasing them across the galaxy and the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance, they’ll forge the unlikeliest of alliances to survive.

I first heard of Our Dark Stars when I was looking through Netgalley. At first, I was a bit hesitant to request this one. Though the synopsis interested me, I was hesitant to read it because the book is only 316 pages. For such a complex plot, I suspected at least 400 pages. Though I had my doubts, I enjoyed myself reading Our Dark Stars and I recommend it, despite the couple issues I had. Also real quick: that cover?! Hat's off to whomever designed that!

Our Dark Stars is a YA science fiction novel told in dual point of views. Talia Starchaser, a human, is set to inherit the galaxy. However, a party before her eighteenth birthday leaves her family and the fate of the galaxy in shambles. One hundred years later, Will Perrault and his crew find Talia in suspended sleep. Will is a half-mock. Mocks were servants to the humans when before Talia's birthday, but now they rule the galaxy instead. The roles of humans and mocks are reversed, and with Talia discovered, everything is subject to change.

The first thing I want to talk about are the friendships. Will and his crew have a close knit bond. Though some of these dynamics were convincing, I wasn't that invested. When a crew member was hurt or in peril, I didn't care. I didn't have enough time with each character or characters' interactions with each other to truly empathize with the story. The one friendship I really enjoyed reading about was Talia and Ailat's. Ailat was Talia's mock (before everything blew up in Talia's face, quite literally), and that is what struck a chord with me. Talia's struggle to see Ailat as her equal while having to traverse politics led for some great internal debates. 

As you might have guessed, I definitely favored one point of view over another's. I don't know how the two authors wrote this; maybe they each wrote one POV or they collaborated, but I loved Talia's side of the story. I found her to be an interesting character to dive into the mind of, and I loved how her internal struggles were reflected into the external problems. Will, on the other hand, I didn't like that much. It's not that I hated him, but I just didn't care about him or his issues. He whines and pines for about half of the book about what could have been, and I had no patience with him. When I was reading the book, I found myself looking forward to Talia's chapters and just getting through Will's.

Maybe it was because of my bias, but I also thought Will's part of the story was confusing. Setting up a complex world is a lot to handle, and the ball was dropped a little. I completely understood Talia's POV, but then switching over to Will's gave me whiplash. Will and Talia's worlds are complete opposites, so reading them back to back left me a bit confused. Plus, there are many characters to keep track of, and it was hard to do in the beginning. It wasn't enough for me to put the book down, but I did have a hard time getting through the first 15 percent and feeling like I had a good grasp on the world.

I know it seems like I'm railing on the book, but I only have one last (small) complaint: the length. I was actually worried abut the length of this right from the get-go. Only 300-ish pages for the start of a science fiction series, that needs to set up the world, make me love the characters, and get fully immersed in the story? At least for me, Our Dark Stars was not developed enough. Yes, I liked the book, but if there were even just 20 more pages that dug deeper into the interpersonal dynamics or world-building, I would have liked the book even more.

Now, onto the romance! As you might expect from the synopsis, there are hints of a romance between Will and Talia. They both are physically attracted to each other, but the book is mostly just hinting at it and building the tension. I thought this was done really well, and I didn't mind that the action was the core focus of the book. There's not too many scenes in the book devoted to their relationship, and instead it's about a crew of people working together for a cause. If there is a second book to this series, I am expecting some more lovey-dovey scenes though. :)

As for the plot in general, it's a great concept! Talia's presence really changes the whole galaxy. I loved how the dynamics were switched, and Talia's reactions were great to read. It does take a while for her to realize that she woke up 100 years in the future though. Like, wouldn't that have been one of the first questions she asked? The main action doesn't kick in for awhile, but I didn't mind too much. The rising action was done well. When the climax did happen, I was hooked. I do think that more time could have been spent of the falling action. Everything seemed a bit too easy at the end, but maybe that is the point and there will be a sequel! 

Side note: there is one scene where a character is revealed to be gay, or bisexual. I don't really like how it was done. Afterwards, the next couple scenes focus on how the rest of the crew felt betrayed and how this person was lying to them. I don't think it's healthy to depict someone being in the closet as lying to others. People come out when they want to, and though I understand people can be shocked, they were pretty rude about it and made the whole thing about themselves. Also, one of the characters mentioned how the person that came out had been with people of the opposite sex, and how it must have been a ruse. This is a clear case of bi-erasure. There's this thing called bisexuality, where someone can, you know, like members of either sex. (ever heard of that before, authors?) Just because someone had sexual encounters members of the opposite sex and now is with someone of the same sex doesn't mean their past interactions were just an elaborate lie. *sigh* Can you tell that I wasn't trying to spoil anything?? Anyways, this really bothered me. Also, stop trying to make queerness a plot device!!

Besides my angry rant above, I did like the book. I don't think either authors had intent to dismiss bisexuality, but I do think it's important to point out. I think every book can be problematic, and it's our job as readers (and critics) to point these issues out, even if we did like the book (especially so). 

Even though most of my review was detailing what I didn't like about this book, I promise you that I enjoyed it. There's enough loose ends for a sequel to happen, and I hope there will be one written! The plot was unique and kept me interested, despite the shaking world building at first. I didn't hate Will's chapters, but Talia's were more compelling to me as a reader. I'm interested in reading more from these authors and from this series in general!

With that, I give this book 
3.5 out of 5 Stars!


  1. Ahhhh, my first question would have been, is this part of a series, which it looks like it is. But then I read the rest of your review and ehhhh, I'll pass. Representation is so important and it is even more important to get it right. I'm glad you enjoyed the book overall though!

    Have a good weekend, Genni. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. It looks like it is, but I haven't heard anything about it. I tried finding information, and got nothing. I agree about representation. The scene was just really strange, and honestly it felt like it was just used to add tension to the crew.

      Thanks Alyssa! So far it's just me working on a Russian history :\

  2. Great review! This one does sound good, but I get what you mean about the length. I agree from the synopsis alone I would expect it to be longer for the world building.

    1. Thanks Erin! Hopefully the second book will explain things better and take its time.