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Posted February 10, 2013
Confession: When I see the words "alien" and "invasion" at the same time in the description of a book, movie, t.v. show, whatever, I automatically picture some campy 1950s horror flick and assume I won't like it. (Which is just rediculous considering how much science fiction, aliens included, I actually like!) But, BUT...do you see this cover? And Andrea Höst is an Australian YA author (which basically means it has to be good, right?) I am so glad that I decided to take a chance on And All the Stars.
Höst completely took me by surprise with this one. And All the Stars has that rare combination of being action packed while still having incredibly developed characters. The plot was exciting and engrossing, but the story was still just as much character driven as it was plot driven. The way the different relationships between the characters developed, or were revealed, made me feel, as a reader, like I was one of the group. Höst also throws some serious cure balls, and I completely didn't see them coming!
I also really liked the diversity found in Höst's characters -- it felt effortless and natural, a pleasant change from much of what I have recently read! If I had one complaint, it is that the ending was tied up just a little too neatly, and felt much less authentic to the characters than the rest of the book. The "where are they now" vibe was a little too removed from the characters with whom we had become so intimately acquainted.
Posted February 5, 2013
The whole concept of this story completely threw me for a loop. It wasn't the typical alien abduction story or even apocalypse story. I'm having a hard time categorizing this whole story just simply because of that.
And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst is the story of Madeleine as she struggles with what we would consider a world under alien invasion. Perhaps it is the worst nightmare of all the people who stare at the stars and wonder if there is other life out there. It all starts out with a dust cloud that settles over the city of Sydney and essentially all of the big cities across the globe. Then the dust stains the skin of the people who find themselves in contact with it. These people, Madeleine included, start noticing subtle differences between the person they used to be and the thing they've become. What appears to be a friendly take over suddenly becomes a game of cat and mouse between those with stained skin and the aliens seeking to inhabit their bodies.
Madeleine is an artist, always carrying a sketchbook or craving to have one in her hand. Her love is not understood by her family who simply see it as a nice hobby and that she should really be focusing her efforts on schoolwork. So of course, when she ditches school to work on a painting of her cousin, Tyler, and ends up being trapped in a destroyed St. James Station after the Sydney Spire appears, her parents are furious. She wishes they would understand her desire to be a great artist -- to have a pencil and sketchbook on her at all times -- but they can't seem to grasp it. Through the whole story, I realized just what passion really is for an artist and how it can be all consuming because that's what it is for Madeleine. She isn't necessarily selfish but rather devoted to the things she is passionate about. The great thing about this loyalty and passion is that it feeds into a lot of different aspects of her life. Relationships, friendships, the cause, and her art turn out to be her greatest passion. It's funny because she is described as typically shying away from friendships and yet she turns out probably the greatest friend anyone could have by the end of the story. She grows a lot through the process of the story and is an admirable character.
You know that one character that you just aren't entirely sure about? The one with all the secrets? Yeah, that was Fisher Charteris. He is the love interest of the story and I feel like an 'of course' has to follow that statement. Isn't it typically the love interest that holds all the secrets because they can cause the greatest betrayals? Either way, Fisher is actually a great love interest that would either excite me or disappoint me by the end of the book and essentially, he did both. He is probably the smartest character in the story, constantly feeding information and giving opinions about certain things. The attitude that follows a know-it-all is either self-centeredness or humility. I found that with Fisher, he projected an egotistical guy but was really insecure and uncertain of himself underneath it all. There was one main problem: he indeed brought about the greatest betrayal and heartache of the main character, Madeline. I hate when there is uncertainty in relationships which was all that was left after the betrayal shatter trust and knowledge about the relationship.
The Blue Musketeers as they called themselves, excluding Madeline and Fisher, included the following people; Nash, Emily or Millie, Pan, Min, and Noi. These characters made up the core of the story that held up the main character as she suffered from uncertainty and provided comedic relief when it was certainly needed. I'm going to talk about my two favorite characters who are Pan and Noi. I would love to go into all of the characters but I doubt I have enough time to compose such a long post.
First, Pan. Oh how I love Pan. I either want a best friend like Pan or to date a guy like Pan. He is the type of guy that has a lot of energy and yet knows when to use it for the best effect. It's hard to read him because he is an actor by trade and can cover up his emotions by projecting a character as quick as the flip of a switch. Yet I found myself drawn to his character. I love Pan. Now onto Noi, she assumes the mother role of the group while clinging to her teenage essence. Like a mother, she hides the strain and influence the circumstances are having over her. I feel a lot of sympathy for her. I think everyone at some point has assumed the mother role for some reason and I could see how desperately she wanted to break down and yet remain strong for everyone around her. She and I are similar and I think that's what formed a lot of my attachment with her.
The whole world is well developed and the foreign race of invaders was so real that I almost felt like they were real. Which is freaky by the way. I really liked this story. It held my interest and was a beautiful novel that told the tale of a group of teenagers who've lost everything and yet found something worth living for. Check this story out. It's worth it.