Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Plot: In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.
On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.
To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.
Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.
Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.
Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.
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I received The Girl and the Stars from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
It can’t be a surprise this review is coming given that Mark Lawrence’s previous three fantasy trilogies all make it into my favourites all the time. Something between a squeal and a yelp escaped when I saw The Girl and the Stars available on Netgalley and I was ready for another adventure in the icy world of Abeth.
I love the uniqueness of the world that’s created. While we get to know it a little in the Holy Ancestor trilogy, this time we’re venturing out into the ice: the unknown, the deadly cold and the place where survival depends on whether you’re strong enough to brave the cold – and pass the regulator’s test. It’s a brutal type of existence, but it is all Yaz has known and thinks she wants until her life is turned upside down – quite literally.
I loved returning to the magic of this world, with different characteristics lending characters abilities: speed, size or magic of a deeper sort. Our main character is a quantal: she can handle magic in not so much a physical way, but a more magical way, manipulating the mysterious “stars”, a source of light and warmth but with a deadly power of being able to crack even the toughest of minds.
The threat that had loomed over her life for years had finally come to pass, and the girl who had forgotten how to dream had, despite her conviction that it was selfish and more than she deserved, begun to hope for the future.
Numerous secondary characters display the other abilities though, giving the reader a good understanding of what everyone can do even if they hadn’t been introduced to the concepts in Holy Ancestor.
What’s always made these books for me is the characterisations. Yaz is powerful; she’s also vulnerable. She’s thrust into a world she doesn’t understand (more than once) and is terrified for her life and the lives of her friends. She never stops fighting, though, never stops trying to find a way to save as many as possible. She’s never too powerful; never too weak; never relying too much on others; but never trying to do everything herself. You relate to the characters and, to be honest, you hope to heck you’d react in a similar situation.
The other characters are also intriguing and they all bring out the best and worst in Yaz, pushing her to be the best she can be, even if it is just to prove it to herself that she can handle this.
As with other books by this author, there’s never just one bad guy. We’ve got a demon infecting innocent people to try and find the missing part of himself. We’ve got an ambitious leader trying to take over a group of people. A more conventional bad guy on the surface pulling more strings than he has a right to hold. Oh, and there may be some kind of monster destroying a city that is sentient. Every chapter throws the suspense and the impossible at both the characters and the readers.
A breath-taking read that I couldn’t get through quickly enough. I had my hand over my mouth for the final chapter, and finished the book swearing out loud. Best reaction in my books!