Wednesday 13 February 2013

Book Review: And All the Stars by Andrea K Höst

Come for the apocalypse.
Stay for cupcakes.
Die for love.

Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.

None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.

Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.

YA sci-fi novel And All the Stars by Andrea K Höst is the second book I've read as part of the 2013 Australian Women Writers Challenge. I was excited to read this book as I'd seen some great reviews of it in last year's challenge. I was especially looking forward to reading a sci-fi book because it isn't a genre I normally read.

I was captivated by this story from the very first page. It really was like nothing I'd ever read before. An alien invasion that made everyone turn a starry shade of blue? I thought that was a terrific idea for a novel and Höst definitely delivers a unique story here. 

And All the Stars follows Madeleine and her group of 'Blue Musketeer' friends as they negotiate a new world where starry Spires rise from the ground and a sheet of dust turns their skin blue. Not only that, but the dust also gives them special powers, as they soon discover. What comes next is a fight for survival, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. 

As I read I was reminded of John Marsden's Tomorrow books, the seven-part series that I adored as a teenager. Yes, Tomorrow wasn't sci-fi and it didn't include scary creatures of light, but to me there were a few parallels - an invasion, a bunch of teenagers forced to fight together, a budding romance developing amidst all the chaos, a strong female lead character who is tested time and time again. 

I thought Höst did very well to capture in her own unique way what Marsden had successfully achieved before her - a serious war mixed with typical teenage issues, such as raging hormones and the need for maturity and skill beyond their years. These kinds of books are important for teens to read as they open their minds to possibilities (even the fictional kind) and aid their growth as human beings. At least that's what Tomorrow did for me, and what And All the Stars most certainly will do for its young readers.

But you don't need to be a teen to adore this novel! I thought it was one of the best stories I've ever read. I can happily recommend it to all ages. I loved reading about an invasion in my former hometown of Sydney; it was fun imagining a starry Spire in the middle of Hyde Park! I enjoyed following the 'Blue Musketeers' as they fought together and I really liked the book's message on the importance of friendship and community. Overall, this was a great read and I look forward to reading other books by Höst. 

1 comment:

  1. It reminded me of Tomorrow When the War Began too! I absolutely loved And All the Stars and I'm glad you did too (especially if it gets you reading more SF ;-p ).