Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Retelling
Publication: 21st April 2016, Penguin Random House
Pages: 496 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Penguin Random House and LoveReading4Kids for sending me this to review!
Rating: 3.5/5 CUPCAKES!
What happens when love brings loss? When love brings lies? When love brings hate?
Olivia and her twin brother Aidan are heading alone back to Earth following the virus that wiped out the rest of their crew, and their family, in its entirety.
Nathan is part of a community heading in the opposite direction. But on their journey, Nathan’s ship is attacked and most of the community killed.Only a few survive.
Their lives unexpectedly collided, Nathan and Olivia are instantly attracted to each other, deeply, head-over-heels – like nothing they have ever experienced.
But not everyone is pleased. Surrounded by rumours, deception, even murder, is it possible to live out a happy ever after . . . ?
When I was sent Chasing the Stars to review I may have squealed in excitement. I've heard endless good things about Malorie Blackman's books so when I received this gorgeous book in the post that promised a loosely based retelling of Othello, with murder, mystery and intrigue in space I was incredibly excited to read it. However, there were quite a few things that prevented me from falling completely in love with this book.
The one thing that saved this book for me was the main character, Vee. If a book has excellent characters I can generally look past a lack of plot and substandard romance and this is an example of such.
Vee is such an amazing character and I would love to be her best friend if she wasn't fictional. She was compassionate, she was brave and sassy, strong and determined. She made appropriate sacrifices for the people on her ship even if it meant it would shatter her heart. She was funny, relatable, worked hard and was extremely clever. I absolutely love it when books have female characters that are intelligent and are fascinated by science and technology as I still feel girls who are interested in maths and science aren't featured as frequently in literature. I also liked how Vee had a backbone and she stood up for what she believed in. She was a very admirable character and by the time I closed the book, I missed Vee because she was the one thing about Chasing the Stars that made me want to keep reading.
"No one said a word. 'Well, Aidan, break out the dictionary. We have a ship full of scintillating conversationalists,' said Vee with enough sarcasm to make me wince."
"'Was I not wearing my poker face then?''D'you have one?' asked Mike. I shook m y head.
'One of the things I forgot to bring on board with me.'”
“'How are you doing that?' I asked with genuine amazement.'A soupcon of charm, a modicum of wit and a more than a splash of badassery.”
"If I was going down, then these bastards would know they'd been in a fight.”
I also really liked Vee's twin brother, Aidan - his and Vee's relationship was utterly adorable! I loved their fierce loyalty and protection of each other as well as how they shared (mostly) everything with each other. There was a scene towards the end of the book that may have made me cry because it was just so heartbreaking and sweet and it just emphasized the strength of their bond and...
I also really loved the fact that Chasing the Stars had short chapters as I flew through the book. There was a mystery that was interwoven through the plot and although I guessed who the culprit was early on, it definitely added a chilling atmosphere to the book and it was a book that I didn't want to put down once I'd started reading it.
Now, moving onto the things I wasn't too fond of.
My main problem with this book was the insta-love - probably one of the worst cases of it I've ever read about. As soon as Vee and Nathan lay eyes on each other they're attracted to each other and then a few chapters later they're confessing their love for each other. Not only that, but it frustrated me that the romance didn't improve as the book wore on. Quite a few times I've read a book that started with insta-love but the romance improves throughout the book, but Vee and Nathan's relationship just seemed like a train wreck from start to finish. Throughout the book there was lack of trust, lack of actually getting to know each other, lack of fun and connection between the two of them. The author stated several times that they got to know each other but I never saw any of that, there was never evidence that explicitly showed them sharing secrets, actually falling in love with something despite appearance - their whole relationship just felt so incredibly shallow and vague. Not only that, but their relationship mainly consisted of sex. They hardly spoke or got to know each other and Nathan was always wanting to sleep with Vee and it frustrated me to no end, because that's not love, it's lust. He didn't treat her with respect or as a person but as a sexual object and I was so happy when Vee turned him down at times because she saw that the foundation with which their fragile relationship was based on wasn't healthy.
Chasing the Stars is told from two alternating perspectives - Vee and Nathan. As you know, I adored Vee but Nathan had me wanting to slap him upside the head 95% of the book. I really liked him at first, he was sweet, funny, grateful for the life he had and a likable enough character but then as the book continued, I started to dislike him more and more until by the end of the book, I'm quite certain I had a bruise on my head from the multiple times I had smacked my hand against my forehead.
He was whiny, melodramatic and disrespectful. I mean, I understand that he had had a difficult past but we never really saw him live that life so I could never really feel the pain he had experienced. Another thing was, he only ever thought of himself and considered things from his point of view, never taking anyone else's feelings into consideration - he was a distasteful character. I also didn't enjoy his narrative and I found myself cringing at most of the things he said as they were just so awkward and an apparent attempt to be suave and relatable to young adults but it just fell flat for me.
"I had a few questions of my own for her, starting with 'Why?' and closely followed by, 'Dafuq?'"
"'I want you,' said Nathan, indicating a certain part of his anatomy.'"
As I said previously, he treated Vee as if she was just something to give him sexual pleasure which really frustrated me and towards the end of the book, he emotionally abused Vee. There was a huge misunderstanding between them that obviously caused their already unstable relationship to fracture until it was irreparable, but if I was Vee I would've trusted my brother more too instead of a guy I barely knew and I really thought it was so immature and selfish of Nathan to treat Vee like he did. I mean, obviously I can understand why he was so upset but if Nathan truly loved Vee he would've spoken to her and worked through this colossal misunderstanding at an earlier stage. Nathan and the romance in this book really disappointed me and if those two points had been written better I would've loved this book much more.
"'Tell me what I need to do to make things right between us,' Vee whispered.'What're you prepared to do?' I asked.'Anything it takes. I promise,' said Vee. 'I'll do whatever it takes to get us back to the way we were.' Her hand moved up to cup my face. I pulled away. Vee's hand fell to her side.'Prove it,' I demanded.'How?' 'Take off your clothes.' A stillness swept over Vee as she looked at me. 'Why?''Because I asked you to,' I replied evenly. 'You did say you'd do anything it takes to make things right.' Vee and I regarded each other, something ugly in the room with us. Vee raised her chin. 'I'm not about to let you hurt me, Nathan.' 'That wasn't my intention.''What is your intention then?' I shrugged. 'I'm horny. I thought we could spend some time in bed or against a wall or on the floor - I don't really care. And then you can leave.''You don't get to treat me like a whore, Nathan,' Vee said furiously.'Why not? You were quick enough to believe that I was one.'"
"'Do you need help taking your clothes off?' I asked evenly. Vee closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them again, they shone with unshed tears. 'I won't have sex with you, Nate, not like this.' 'So much for doing anything to make it right,' I said with contempt. 'Turns out that promise was as empty as all the others you made...'"
Another thing that I had a slight problem with was there were quite a few times in the book where something would happen and I was like, "Wait, what?". It was almost as if I had skipped a few pages as there were surprising things that happened but we were not show how the characters had gotten to that point or reached that conclusion. It was quite jarring at times.
I also found the mystery extremely predictable and I couldn't believe that Vee and the others didn't piece the puzzle together soon. There was a lot of telling and not showing, which I'm also not a fan of.
Unfortunately, Chasing the Stars was a book I wanted to fall in love with. I wanted to be swept up into the rich retelling of Othello in space but the distasteful love interest and disappointing romance made my love for this book decrease as I danced through the pages. I adored the main character and I think she's a highly admirable character and she and her relationship with her brother was the only thing that made me keep reading. You might enjoy this though, but unfortunately I didn't love this book with the ferocity of an exploding star like I hoped I would.
I give it:
"The best way to overcome a fear of death is to live and live well - and we will."
"No prospects, no future and worst of all, no hope. That's not living, that's just being alive."
"You don't have to die to be in hell."
"I couldn't help feeling that the higher we climbed, the further we had to fall."
"Love is an act of courage."
- Sex scenes