I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I am very pleased that I did. “When Stars Die” was thoroughly enjoyable – a thrilling, mysterious read with compelling characters and an anfractuous plot.
From the very beginning, this book had a chilling, violent undercurrent that fuelled the sense of mystery and kept me constantly intrigued. I found that “When Stars Die” was very hard to put down. Whenever I convinced myself that, in the depths of the night, it was time to stop reading and sleep, I would be snagged by a devious plot twist and forced to read on. The prose was fast-flowing, told through the eyes of the heroine in such a way as to provide a natural tone that invited the reader to continue.
Amelia, the heroine, was a passionate, fiery protagonist. She certainly had her flaws, but that was what made her so intricate and relatable. The fact that she cared deeply for the people around her made for very interesting reading. When in the presence of Amelia, relationships between characters began to blossom in a way that wouldn’t be possible without her empathic personality. Amelia supported the rest of the characters in the story, and through her voice readers were able to understand the actions of supporting characters on a deeper level.
The plot of “When Stars Die” was complex, yet successful. It was composed of numerous, minor mysteries. Each small mystery led somewhere to become part of the overall story, and this strategy helped the author to build Amelia’s world whilst also creating an irresistible plot line.
As the story progressed, it grew darker and more sinister. The creepy undercurrent became more prominent and serious themes such as self-harm, rape and suicide were introduced. I think that this was quite a controversial decision. “When Stars Die” is a young adult novel, and in today’s current media culture, these topics are rife with controversy. Should they be discussed and explored openly, like in “When Stars Die”? Or should they be avoided, hidden, brushed under the rug? Self-harm, rape and suicide are very serious issues and should never be taken lightly. “When Stars Die” dealt with these themes solemnly and professionally, which made for profound, rather than enjoyable, reading in some parts of the book.
Not all the themes in “When Stars Die” were grim, however. The book was laced with some beautiful, philosophical ideas as well. References to the titular concepts of stars and death were touching and thought-provoking, giving the reader something to muse upon when not engrossed in the dialogue or action sequences.
Overall, I thought that “When Stars Die” was a compelling read. Though it had a somewhat gloomy vibe, it was rich in both characters and plot. A thoughtful book that I would definitely recommend.