Review: Starglass

Review: StarglassStarglass by Phoebe North
Series: Starglass #1
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR on July 23, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Won

Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn't interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he's yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she's got.

But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain's guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship's idyllic surface. As she's drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime--one that will determine the fate of her people.

First Sentence:My darling daughter, know that I never would have left the earth if it hadn’t already been doomed.

Phoebe North’s Starglass has been on my radar ever since I learned that the author was once a prominent blogger. I’ve never read that blog and don’t know too much about her, but I like supporting bloggers, so I wanted to read this book. I always expect big things from bloggers who publish, because they know better than anyone what tropes to avoid, or so I assume. For the most part, that was very true in Starglass and I did very much enjoy North’s debut.

The plot on a basic level is highly reminiscent of Beth Revis’ Across the Universe trilogy. However, in the course of one book, North takes the plot through what took two books in that series: the dissent on the ship and the approach to the planet towards which they’ve been heading. This is not to say that the two are identical by any means, because they’re not. In fact, I think I rather like Starglass better, both for the abbreviated time on ship and for the more interesting characters.

As I mentioned already, North does a lot of those things bloggers regularly request. There’s diversity in that everyone on board the Asherah is Jewish, this being one of many ships that departed Earth as its destruction neared the Asherah only accepted those of Jewish descent. One of Terra’s ancestors, a non-practicing Jew and a lesbian (squee!) found a place on the ship. There are other gay characters as well, which is awesome, even if society does not approve, which is less awesome.

Another fantastic thing is how many of the authority figures on the Asherah are female. Women and men are in equal standing here. The current leader of the guard is an imposing female by the name of Captain Wolff. When the time comes for marrying (16 – if you have not chosen by 18, a mate will be chosen for you), girls can ask for a boy’s hand in marriage just as the boys may ask. Plus, women don’t have to bear the two mandated children (one male, one female), as they are hatched from eggs in a disturbing and haunting process.

As with Revis’ series, the plot consists largely of a combined mystery and rebellion. North does a good job with it, and did surprise me with one of the twists there at the end. On the Asherah, it’s really hard to know who to trust, and that’s conveyed beautifully. The pace does move somewhat slow, without much action, but I really enjoyed the writing so I didn’t mind.

So far as the characters go, they don’t quite have the depth I would have wished for, but they are interesting. Terra’s narration is intelligent, but lacks the scientific know-how to get too much into the nitty gritty science fiction details, but that worked out pretty well. For most of the book, Terra has a tendency to go along with what others want of her, even if she’s not particularly happy with it. By the end, she’s finally obtaining some agency of her own, perhaps due to the example of Mara Stone, to whom she’s apprenticed, or to the craziness going down on board the Asherah.

My only other concern is the romance. Most of what went down with that in Starglass was walking the border of discomfiting. For example, I find her treatment of her first suitor rather hateful, but, then again, he did lie to her, so I suppose it’s forgivable as long as she learns from the experience, which I think she has. Terra’s second suitor also upsets me, because of what that did to her friend, whom she envies for being so pretty. Hopefully, the impending love interest will lay my concerns to rest, but things could really go either way at this point.

The ending leaves me very ready for book two, though Starglass does come to a nice ending of the main plot arc. Phoebe North’s debut is a fun science fiction novel on the lighter side, and I look forward to her career; I expect good things!

Favorite Quote:

“‘I don’t care about books. I don’t care about buildings. Freedom. That’s all that matters. So I can love whomever I please.'”

28 responses to “Review: Starglass”

  1. GillyB says:

    I’m glad you liked this one! I’ve been looking forward to it. And yes, bloggers-turned-authors must ALWAYS be supported!

    • Christina says:

      Agreed! She was super nice about the review too. I mean, obviously, it’s a positive review, but all authors don’t get that if there’s criticism. She goes on my mental list of awesome authors. 🙂

  2. aparajita says:

    this was available for free reading on simon & schuester’s Pulse It website but never got to read it then…. now your review is making me excited for it.

    great review
    Aparajita @Le’ Grande Codex

  3. Amy says:

    This sounds like it’s a good start to a series. I have been interested in this book too, but this is the first review I have read for it. I think this one will be one that I will pick up at some point. Thanks for the fabulous review. Also, I didn’t know she was a blogger before. That makes me want to go out and buy this book even more.

  4. Kayla Beck says:

    I’m so glad that someone that I talk to has finally read this book. When we both get time, I have got to talk to you about that ending!

  5. I’ve been looking forward to this one a long time. I love spaceship books, and I was also immediately drawn to it because Phoebe was a blogger. I’m glad you liked it, and now I’m curious about the concerns you talked about at the end.

  6. Mostly my problem with this one was the pacing. The book moved a bit too slow for my liking, even though it had a great – albeit unoriginal – premise and I liked the coming-of-age experience I had with Terra. I agree with you though: I liked that everyone was equal here, and the twist really shocked me too! It was enjoyable, but I felt it could have been better.

    • Christina says:

      I did notice the slowness, but I enjoyed the narrative voice enough that I didn’t mind that at all, however pacing tends not to be a big issue with me.

  7. Tammy Sparks says:

    I completely agree with you about the pacing. It was a slow book, but that was ok for me. But when I got to the end and found out what the twist was, I became much more interested in reading the next book. I wish the twist had come earlier, which would have added more excitement to the narrative.

    • Christina says:

      Which twist? The one about her dreams I figured out pretty much the first time it happened. The one about who to trust totally surprised me. Either way, I’m definitely excited for the next one.

  8. I haven’t read Across the Universe but I did buy it a while back and intend to read it. Though now I wonder if I should just skip that one and read the better version, this one. LOL Love that this one seems to leave you feel satisfied but still definitely wanting more.

  9. Amanda says:

    I really should start supporting bloggers-turned-authors as well, although I haven’t heard of too many yet. That’s awesome, though, that North seems to really understand certain things that are desperately needed in YA fiction (such as diversity) and really incorporate them into her story. I read the first book in the Across the Universe trilogy and wasn’t super impressed, so maybe that means I’ll enjoy this one more? It sounds pretty interesting, I have to say. Thanks for the thoughtful review, Christina!

    • Christina says:

      Lenore Appelhans was a blogger first too, but I’m not sure about too many others either. Apparently North was raised in a Jewish community, so it’s awesome that she had that to draw on. I hope you do like it more!

  10. Molli Moran says:

    Hmm, despite your issues with the suitors, this one does sound good. I’ve had my eye on it for some time, too! I didn’t know Phoebe was a blogger once. I think AS a blogger (for me) you do get insights into what YOU don’t want to see, and if you can avoid that, and still write with heart, you can produce a good, meaningful book that avoids some YA tropes. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this at the library, Christina!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • Christina says:

      More like potential issues with the suitors. North could totally talk me into her endgame, but it could also go awry.

      Avoiding YA tropes is gooood.

  11. Danielle says:

    I still have to read Across the Universe! I need to get on that, have heard great things about it so glad this one is similar in theme, it definitely sounds like something I’d like! That’s awesome she was a blogger too, lovely review!

  12. Lyn Kaye says:

    Eeeehhhh……icky romance, no no no….

  13. Debby says:

    Oh you have gotten me a bit more excited about this one. I’m still skeptical, because what you say about the romance is a bit worrisome. But still, sounds like it’s better than Across the Universe, and that would make me happy.

  14. Micheline D says:

    Ok so, I’ve had this review bookmarked since you put it up and I am only getting to it now! Argh! Anyways, moving on…

    I still haven’t read Across the Universe even though I own a copy of book 1. I feel like that series will be a win for me so I loved your comparison of Spyglass to that series and the fact that you enjoyed this one even more! I’m a bit worried about the romance aspect since I’ve been having such crappy luck with YA romances lately so I think I’ll hold off for the time being, but this one is staying on my reading list for sure. Might just bump it up to the ‘wishlist’ shelf soon enough 😉 Thanks for the insight Christina!

    • Christina says:

      This is my life. I’ve commented on posts weeks later. People are probably like “what is this crazy girl doing?” but oh well.

      Well, the romance hasn’t done anything unacceptable yet, but I’m expressing concern over where it MIGHT be heading. We’ll see. :-p

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