Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Published by HarperAudio
Published on 11 August 2020
Genres: Fantasy, United States, Young Adult
Source: my local library
Add to Goodreads
Buy from Amazon | Buy from The Book Depository |Publisher page
"Shveta Thakrar's prose is as beautiful as starlight."--New York Times bestselling author Holly Black
This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman's Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.
The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be "normal." But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star's help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.
Sheetal's quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family's champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens--and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.
Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.
RUNNING TIME ⇒ 10hrs. and 15mins.
©2020 Shveta Thakrar (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers
This is another book that for me, was just kind of in the middle.
There was nothing particular wrong with it, but it also didn’t sparkle for me.
I was initially drawn to this because of its premise: an #ownvoices with Hindu mythology inspired by Stardust by Neil Gaiman, which is both an amazing book and film.
I really liked how it had no reservations in using its #ownvoices to scatter the narrative with cultural references that I really didn’t understand. It’s good for people who aren’t normally exposed to that sort of thing to start thinking outside of their narrow world view. I didn’t really know what all the various bits of clothing of food were, and since I was listening to this on audio while my hands were busy, I couldn’t stop and Google stuff, so I just had to go along with the flow and imagine some gorgeous clothing and delicious food. I definitely would have understood more and maybe had a richer reading experience if I was of an Indian cultural background, which I think is absolutely great for Indian readers.
Another thing I really liked was the relationship with Sheetal’s best friend, Meenal, who was gay, but was also incredibly supportive of Sheetal. She was treating Sheetal like a princess, which was really lovely. Sometimes you just want a supportive friend and not someone who’s secretly a backstabbing bitch, or jealous, or otherwise not supportive when you’re going through a tough time.
However, I did not feel the romance. The opening chapters made it seem like Sheetal didn’t really know Dev, then it turns out they’ve been secretly dating for 3 months, which just seemed so jarring. Then, when Dev revealed a secret, Sheetal got all mad at him for not telling her straight away, and didn’t even comprehend how hypoctricial she was being that she hadn’t shared her secret with him. After that, I quite liked how she occassionally thought of him, and I liked where their relationship was at for a large part of the novel – still obvioulsy caring about each other, but not officially together in any way. I just couldn’t figure out how they got together in the first place if he’s some super hot singer and she’s this nobody who was always hiding herself away. And really, all he had going was that he was incredibly hot, and I couldn’t even tell why he liked her at all, outside of being half star.
I loved how there was a struggle between accepting herself as both half star and half mortal. I think that’s very a very important discourse for many mixed-race people. It even applies to me because even though I pass as white and a strong Eastern European heritage, I also have a South-East Asian heritage that I know nothing about.
What didn’t quite work for me was the boring middle part. I was already having a hard time keeping my interest, and the bullying and other shenanigans at the celestial court just didn’t seem that interesting for some reason. I felt like Sheetal was just having a pity party all by herself for large parts of it, and I can’t even recall what was taking so long to get to the actual competition.
Speaking of the competition, I also couldn’t quite grasp the logic of it. The winner’s house (constellation) would rule the heavens, and the houses would choose someone – often a lower-ranked star – to inspire a ‘champion’ – a mortal chosen from Earth – to create a piece of artwork, and then there was actual voting on who won, and we all know that art is subjective, and anyway, what if one of the judges was thinking politically and chose the winner based on who they wanted to rule heaven?
So the winning house relied on a low-ranking star and a mortal not invested in who won, to decide who rules the heavens? That didn’t make much sense to me. But I guess if you don’t think about it too much, it’s kind of pretty?