Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lost in Starlight by Sherry Soule

*Honest Review Requested by Author in Exchange for Free eBook
Published: June 26th 2014
Publisher:  Disenchanted Publishing
Series: Starlight Saga #1
Website: Author’s blog

                Sloane, journalist for her high school newspaper, horror fanatic, and alternative style aficionado, is spunky, and surrounded by like-minded friends. Hayden is a genius bad-boy and absolutely gorgeous. What started as a silly crush that could never cross the cliques of high school becomes dangerous when Sloane discovers Hayden’s secret.

                There isn’t much plot; it’s primarily a romance story. Every event ultimately revolves around their love. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing if you care for romances. The first part of the book is the mystery of what Hayden is hiding, then the rest is mostly about them going on dates. They have a cute connection (even though it is rushed) and their love is forbidden from a lot of angles. Interspersed are moments of brief action until the climax, which had a satisfying amount of action that had me glued to my eReader. 

                I originally got excited about this book because it is something I probably wouldn’t have picked up myself. I do enjoy some sci-fi, though I am selective and mostly prefer dystopias (the MadAddam trilogy, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, I am Legend, The Chemical Garden Trilogy, The Hunger Games Trilogy, the Divergent Trilogy, etc.). Stories involving space and all the themes that come with it? Not really my cup of tea. But, as a librarian I need to be more open and be more familiar with a wide range of interests. What Lost in Starlight has is a story that I haven’t seen in YA lit before. I’ve seen similar (which I will not name because I don’t want to spoil anything here!) but nothing that handles the story like this.
                The one thing that bugs me about slapping a sci-fi sticker on this book is that it feels more paranormal than sci-fi. Conventions of sci-fi include technology (that may or may not be possible in the future) and scientific principals (you know, the kinds that I don’t understand), and I don’t recall these appearing in the book. It does, however, have the social commentary that I love, and it does it well.
To me, it feels more paranormal, and that’s ok. I think we need more variety in our paranormal literature, as vampires, werewolves, and witches are overdone.

                The writing comes from the main character’s POV. She has a bouncy way of describing everything, even when she is sad. At first, I found the writing engaging. Then it grated on me.
Fudge. With extra cherries. I’d totally forgotten.
Holy zombie guts.
Well, hello paranoia!
Is he seriously using big words to call me fat? Total douchebag move.
Sweet zombie babies!
It feels like a diary, which suits her just fine, considering. If this kind of writing is your thing, then you’ll love it. At times I was annoyed...yet I couldn't stop reading. Her voice is addicting.

Very Mild Spoiler!
                This book gave a heroine a normal portrayal of teens – she had another relationship before the relationship that the book focuses on. I’m tired of all these YA books and their virginal teens. Teens are likely to have more than one relationship before finding the person who they are going to be with forever (if they even want to do that). Too many unrealistic people want to espouse the notion that teens do not have sex, and if they do, it’s because marriage is just around the corner. These kinds of people like to think that teens do not have random sexual encounters either. I don’t care if anyone is for or against it, but it happens.
                Not all heroines are pure white virgins that wait for their true love that they are fated to be with. I find this thought to be extremely detrimental to women – that their first time is going to be with THE ONE and they will get married and live happily ever after the end. So, I applaud the book for being realistic. She lost her virginity before and she is not with that boy anymore. Still, she is not throwing herself at Hayden just because sex isn’t a big deal anymore, and this also makes me light up with appreciation.    

                You can’t Google everything! Sloane is supposed to be an intelligent student headed for greatness academically, so she’d know about trustworthy sites on the internet (especially if the librarian had ever had a library orientation). She’s a super-sleuth reporter, so she should know better. And what are the chances that enough specific information actually got on the internet? Also, by the story’s standards, I think the websites would have been pulled from the internet.
                In your last year of AP English class, it is highly unlikely that you would be reading Romeo and Juliet. I know the author wanted to draw a parallel with division between families and forbidden love, but this is just too easy to point out.
                The author mentions brands and stores (Manic Panic and Hot Topic) so much, it is almost like she is making fun of them. As a teen, I was a fan of alternative styles, and I didn’t recite the brand of every article of clothing I was putting on, nor did I ever have to remind myself that I was using Manic Panic’s Purple Haze. This also severely dates the content of the book, and it is possible that in a decade or so no one is going to know exactly what she is referring to. Also, portraying teens as being this into brand names make them seem like shallow scene kids who just want the look and the labels. Sloane says she’s into her own style…but it sounds like she’s into retro rockabilly. It would have been more interesting if she was actually creating her style.
                Too much emphasis was placed on the size of her chest. I know they can and will get unwanted attention, but it was nearly all the time. The end portion of the book had a scene about this, and it was just unbelievable that she would allow such an act to happen. Then again, it’s unbelievable that she would let a blatant pervert harass her. The girl has spunk and fire, yet she withers on this subject.
                There is a lot of fat-shaming happening to Sloane. However, this book likes to stereotype thin girls as terrible people, and that’s not fair, either. Her friends are the only girls I recall that are thin and nice. I get the impression fat-shaming is bad, but it’s ok to thin-shame. I don’t know if that’s a thing we’re culturally aware of yet, but I’m putting it out there. Of course girls who are thin are narcissistic Barbie dolls who try to steal your boyfriend.

Final Verdict  
                Overall, I recommend Lost in Starlight, especially to older teens who are into paranormal romance (that stress the romance). It is a unique read that touches issues that I’ve not seen in YA yet, and Sloane is an awesome character with real issues alongside the more fantastical ones. I know I pointed a lot of gripes in this review, but they are (mostly) minor. The book ended on a cliff hanger and I can’t wait to one day read the next installment!

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