The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

details
Title: The Girl and the Stars.
Series: Book of the Ice #1.
Writer(s): Mark Lawrence.
Publisher: Ace.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: April 21st, 2020.
Pages: 384.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13:  9781984805997.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

thoughts

The illusion of perfection has haunted many throughout history. It has brought some to entertain tyrannical measures to cleanse society of specific individuals deemed unworthy of life and others to adhere by certain maxims pertaining to their selves to attain what they desire and inch their way closer to their definition of perfection. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and if a community living on Abeth’s glacial and deadly ice is to survive, they will have to be wise about their societal structure. Epic fantasy author Mark Lawrence brings forth a brand-new spin-off to his Book of the Ancestor trilogy by diving into a cold world hiding layers of unthawed secrets deep in the heart of Abeth.

What is The Girl and the Stars about? The ceremony crowning sixteen-year-old Yaz of the Ichta‘s adulthood is finally upon her. East of the Black Rock lies the Pit of the Missing where the weak are pitched into a bottomless pit by the regulator who administers the only judgment that will allow children to remain with the community in the shivering cold of the ice on Abeth or fall to their death in a merciless condemnation for the broken children deemed incapable of survival. But this abyss hides much more than what it has been claimed to be by her community and Yaz will quickly learn that her talents are crucial to unearthing unparalleled powers, unspoken history, and unfathomable truths about life and the world in which she shivers in.

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Resting the foundation of this story’s magic system on that elaborated within the Book of the Ancestor‘s trilogy allows Mark Lawrence to expand and lay out additional ramifications to the mythology that he once conceived from the ground up. These crucial details about the lore within his universe remain an abundance of pleasure, especially for fans of the original trilogy, and pave the way to an elaborate—if not sometimes overly-saturated—magic system that sadly loses a bit of its freshness as you unravel the intricacies of star-stones.

However, Mark Lawrence’s writing style does wonder in creating this brand-new world that continuously surprises the reader by revealing worlds within worlds, sort of like jumping into a rabbit hole to land somewhere unimaginable to a sixteen-year-old girl who has only known the laws of the ice that constrained her people to a life of survival. In this story, he creates a thoroughly claustrophobic atmosphere and adds a modicum of horror through terrifying creatures straight from the nightmares of abandoned children.

Unexpectedly, the story also leaves an unfortunately unwelcomed impression of a tale written as a young adult trilogy. The abundance of young characters, including the protagonist, who never truly stand out much due to the author’s focus on Yaz’s journey fails to offer this story the necessary supporting cast to keep me mesmerized by this new adventure. The typical chosen one trope is barely revisited as well but still offers the reader the chance to follow Yaz in her search for purpose. There is plenty to enjoy once you embark on this adventure where she learns to belong, especially when her place in this world has shockingly opened up to her following a dramatic emotional decision to follow her emotions rather than reason.

Concluding on an undoubtedly thrilling final act, the story,  however, is entirely focused on Yaz’s quest but contains plenty of action allowing the narrative to ebb and flow throughout the book. From smaller-scale conflicts for leadership to larger-scale wars with mystical entities, there is a fully-realized world to explore in the first installment of the Book of the Ice and plenty of angles for Mark Lawrence to capitalize on in the following sequels now that he has raised the curtain on this part of Abeth.

The Girl and the Stars is a promising spin-off plunging deep into worlds filled with strange creatures and broken beings but softened by a tale of self-discovery, belonging, and friendship.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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24 comments

  • while the Red sister trilogy sounded interesting enough for me to try Lawrence again, nothing I’ve read about this sequel in any way draws me at all. I suspect I’ll be reading the Sister trilogy as a standalone series.

    Do you think the shift towards a YA tone is a deliberate act on the authors?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could only recommend the Book of the Ancestors trilogy honestly. This spin-off felt like an attempt to fit into a crowd and draw in a new fanbase… I can’t really tell if it’s intentional since I haven’t read his older trilogies but from the sound of it, this seems completely different from his usual self…

      Liked by 1 person

  • Fantastic review! I agree 100%.
    You get to this point in the book and realize how young adult it is. I was incredibly disappointed. As interesting as the ending was, I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequel. I had a hard time getting through it.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Don’t you love YA Lashaan? Or maybe you expected something else from this author? I have preordered that one but have never read his books so I hope I will love it more than you did!

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, I am not a fan of YA. I am super picky with the ones that I read. And this one falls in the adult fantasy category and I am not a fan of books that FEEL like YA when they were supposed to be adult hahah Hope you enjoy it more than I did, Sophie! 😉

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  • I’ve yet to read any of his books, though I have collected several in ebook form. Do you think it’d be better to start with Red Sister?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, you know it. My WIP is… a young adult novel that I hope to fit in that market. However, a trilogy? That’s rather presumptuous, especially for a debut.

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  • I’m entirely in agreement with you about the supporting cast lacking the magnetism to keep the reader caring about them (if I’m honest, the only two names I remember are Yaz and Zeen, I only remember her brother because of her blind desire to find him). I remember the legless blacksmith as well … but that was due to his deformity rather than character.

    As much as I’d be curious to see what else lurks in the world of Abeth, I just have nothing pulling at me to grab the next book when released 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, Aaron! And yes to the deformity being there almost only to remember the character by… So sad yet so true. I’ll probably be less excited for the sequel but I’m going to dare give it a try just to confirm that thinks either gets better, worse, or remains stale!

      Liked by 1 person

  • It sounds like the characters were the main disappointment for you 😯 the world described here sounds pretty cool, though, I can totally feel how the laws of the ice constrain people to a life of survival ❄️😛 hahaha, great review, Lashaan 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  • I was surprised to see your rating as I know you adore this author. However reading your review I see why you rated it such. Was it not as brutal as his previous series? That seemed to characterize his Grey Sister series. And I understand they were young in that series too? Very curious that it read so differently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • His Ancestors trilogy, the only one I read and finished, was indeed fantastic. It’s still brutal here too. It’s the overall tone, the way the story progresses, the similarities with Maze Runner, at least the premise, and all that really gave this one that YA vibe to an otherwise adult fantasy story and it’s this unexpected surprise that wasn’t too appreciated from my part. Otherwise, I’m sure many will find this a lot of fun! 😀

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