Author: Rachel Vincent
Series: The Stars Never Rise (#1)
Read: October 7th-8th
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 9th, 2015
Genre: dystopian, urban fantasy
In short: this was a really interesting concept and world, but poor execution. The plot drags along, and the build-up leaves you hanging.
Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she’s too busy trying to actually survive. Her town’s population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.
When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she’ll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie’s sin has put her in serious trouble.
To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?
Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can’t survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.
This was a great premise, it really was. Demons in a post-apocalyptic setting, and a vaguely Margaret Atwood-esque Church? Always a good combination. But the characters were underwhelming, and the plot just didn’t work for me.
≫ THE PLOT:
At least in the badlands you know who the monsters are.
Nina and Melanie live in constant fear of the Church: if officials find out about their drug-addled, deadbeat mother, they’ll be taken away. Nina’s counting down until she can pledge herself to the Church and support her reckless little sister. But Mellie’s recklessness suddenly changes everything. Just before Nina can become a Church pledge, Mellie tells her she’s pregnant.
To top it all off, there are suddenly demons! Inside their walled town! Inside their…house? Turns out their mother was possessed years ago, and she’s waiting till the day she can sell Mellie off and take over Nina’s body. Nina tries to stop her raging demon-mother, and ends up killing her—by exorcising the spirit within her. Which she shouldn’t be able to do; only the Church can train exorcists. Suddenly she’s wanted by the Church and running for her life, and the only help she has is a crew of runaway teenagers who have the same strange powers as her.
So, this could’ve worked. It really could have. But it was extremely, extremely short, so barely anything happened. Some of the plot twists were fairly predictable, but the plot does pick up nicely towards the end. Still, my main problem with the plot was that I felt like I was constantly waiting for something big to happen and that major event never actually came about. This is probably personal, but I feel like there’s no thrill after all the build-up.
≫ THE SETTING:
The quaint little town the Kanes live in is smack-dab in the middle of demon-ravaged badlands, but don’t worry, it’s an heavenly oasis! Or not quite. We didn’t get to see all that much of New Temperance, but all things considered, it was a decent setting. I’m far more interested in the badlands.
≫ THE PROTAGONIST:
Hurricane Nina. I was an unnatural disaster.
I was fairly neutral towards Nina for most of the book. She read like most dystopian YA heroines, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I have to give her plus points for the way she takes care of Mellie despite everything; her loyalty towards her sister made her stand out where she might’ve otherwise been a cardboard cutout. (Although family loyalty is typically the one ‘rewarding’ trait given to disillusioned dystopian heroines. See: Katniss Everdeen.)
But then there was…
“Finn. I want. To talk. To Maddock.”
That was when I decided I didn’t like Devi.
That’s right, folks! This book has girl-on-girl hate. Know where it stems from? Guy issues. Ever so original. Listen, Nina, this girl owes you all of nothing. Where do you get off hating her from the first minute? (Not that Devi is any better, constantly shaming Nina for having no demon-hunting skills…which…she obviously doesn’t have?) Of all the group-dynamic conflicts possible, this one? Supremely annoying.
≫ THE OTHER CHARACTERS:
I can’t get their deal, really. We have Mellie, who was all right, I guess – she isn’t around for a lot of the book. Then we have Finn, the mysterious green-eyed guy who rescues Nina from Church officials after she exorcises her mother. He has green eyes. Did I mention Finn’s green eyes? Kidding, kidding. I promise the meaning behind the constant mentions of his green eyes actually makes it worth it. Finn was super-interesting, but not exactly personality-wise. I’ll say he’s a paranormal love interest, but I won’t tell you in what way because that was cool. Weird, slightly random, but cool. The rest of the teen exorcism crew (dibs on band name) are Devi (Indian girls in YA, yay! Although, unnecessarily awful Indian girls in YA…), Maddock, Reese, and Grayson. They were your regular runaway dystopian teenagers, really. Nothing super-special, but not awful either.
≫ OF VILLAINS:
…the only time willful ignorance didn’t qualify as a sin was when the Church didn’t want us to know something.
The quaint little town the Kanes live in is smack-dab in the middle of demon-ravaged badlands, but don’t worry, it’s an heavenly oasis! Or not quite. We have the creepy Church, which dictates how people think, what they hear, and how they live pretty much every aspect of their lives. The creepy Church which, by the way, has Nina neutered. Shudders. This was definitely interesting, though I’d have loved to read from the perspective of someone who believed in the Church, unlike Nina, who was already (understandably) disillusioned.
≫ THE ROMANCE:
I have to say, the logistics of this romance were interesting, because of Finn’s…condition. But other than that? Nothing special. I don’t know where the chemistry went, but I must’ve missed that lesson. There is none whatsoever here. It’s literally as though Nina would’ve fallen for any rando who rescued her.
≫ THE ENDING:
More than the ending itself (which was rather inevitable) the climax got me interested. If only the rest of the book had been the same…Even so, the buildup promised something far more, and I was left pretty underwhelmed when I put the book down.
≫ TO SUMMARISE:
Would I recommend this? Not sure. Proceed with caution.