"Cleverly written, intriguing, and heart-wrenching." – New York Times bestselling author Jodi Meadows
“An unusual focus on food only improves this intriguing coming-of-age story.” - Kirkus Reviews
Princess Vela's people are starving.
Stranded on a planet that lacks food, Vela makes the ultimate sacrifice and becomes an Aegis for her people. Accepting a genetic modification that takes sixty years off her life, she can feed her colony via nutrition pills. But her best friend is still getting worse. And she's not the only one.
Now the king is dying, too.
When the boy she's had a crush on since childhood volunteers to give his life for her father's, Vela realizes her people need more than pills to survive. As tensions rise between Aegis and colonists, secrets and sabotage begin to threaten the future of the colony itself.
Unless Vela is brave enough to save them all…
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||829 KB|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
When her first-grade teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, Pintip replied, "An author." Although she has pursued other interests over the years, this dream has never wavered.
Pintip graduated from Harvard University and received her J.D. at Yale Law School. She published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, "How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis," and received the Barry S. Kaplan Prize for best paper in Law and Literature.
Pintip is a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.
Read an Excerpt
I break off a piece of raspberry tart, with a crust as light as sunshine, and slide it into the pocket of my caftan. My mouth goes dry in spite of the sweet tang that's about to burst over my tongue.
Because the hidden bite's not for me. It's for my best friend, Astana, and if the royal guards catch me stealing food for a colonist, I could be thrown into the Red Cell Prison. Our laws are clear: actual food, as opposed to nutrition pills, must be reserved for those who can utilize it best.
I shove the rest of the tart into my mouth. It breaks upon contact, littering crumbs across the silver shuttle floor. I'm so nervous, the dessert tastes like congealed space dust and raspberries, but I chew and swallow as if nothing's wrong. As if there isn't a smooshed-up pie staining the inside of my pocket.
Did anyone see me hide the bite?
All around the Banquet Room, the Aegis dig into their mid-afternoon snack. Pecan-encrusted squash, double-mashed garlic potatoes, barbecued tofu drizzled with a blackberry-port reduction. They sit twenty per table, at sheets of metal which would sag if they weren't doubly reinforced. Their silverware clinks together in a high, tinny melody, replacing the conversation that might have occurred back on Earth, where eating was partly social instead of wholly functional.
On our new planet, Dion, no Aegis talks during the first twenty minutes of a meal. It would be a waste, since more food can be consumed before the stomach has a chance to feel full. And an Aegis has only one goal: to consume as many nutrients as possible. We have to, in order to take in enough sustenance for the rest of the colony.
I'm about to finish what's left of the tart when a hand closes over my elbow.
My heart stutters. So it comes to this. After training all my life to eat for my people, I'm caught over a piece of raspberry pie.
Pellets of sweat break out on my neck. I turn to my captor, the excuses ready on my lips. It's just a single bite. My best friend's been so down lately. I just want to bring her a little excitement, a little joy. Is that so wrong?
The words melt in my mouth. Because it's not a royal guard who has a hold of me. It's my older sister.
"Sweet before savory?" Blanca asks, moving the hand from my elbow and onto her hip. She's widely considered beautiful, even if she doesn't have the voluptuous figure that is so prized in our colony. It's not easy to have curves when every excess calorie is sucked out of your body six times a day and transferred to the colonists via a pill. "Is that your secret, Vela? You eat a round of dessert before the main course?"
Of course not. I'm only eating this tart because it gives me an excuse to be near the dessert buffet. But Blanca doesn't have to know that.
"You got me," I say. "Sweet and savory foods fill different mental compartments, you know. You can still eat chocolate cake, even though you're full of ramen noodles and pan-fried dumplings —"
"Save it." Blanca arches her back, jutting out her food baby. Fifteen minutes from now, after she pays a visit to the Transfer Room, her stomach will deflate once again, but my sister's always been one to show off her roundness, however temporary. "I don't need your strategies to be named Top Aegis."
I'm a shoo-in for the top prize this year. Blanca knows it, I know it. Half of our Eating class has placed bets on it. If I keep eating the way I have for the next two days, no one will even come close.
Vela Kunchai, Top Aegis. I can taste it. Hot and satisfying, like a tray of lasagna with a bubbling soy cheese crust. It's not the title I want, but the caring that it conveys. The more nutrition pills I produce, after all, the more people I'll feed. My father, the King, has two heirs. Within the year, he'll name either me or Blanca as his Successor. He's been training both of us, from a very young age, to take his place, and a few months ago, the council decided that the transition to a new ruler would proceed most smoothly if the Sucessor stayed within the royal family.
We don't know what criteria the council will use to choose the Successor. After all, our colony has never had to pass the reins before. But winning Top Aegis sure won't hurt my chances. And so, I'd stretch my stomach lining into gauze to make sure it's me. My sister, unfortunately, feels the same way.
"It's not just about how much you're willing to suffer for your people," Blanca says, as if reading my mind. "The King's Successor has to be practical enough to see the big picture. She has to have helped the King from an early age, running scenarios for him in the control room every time he needs data for a decision." Even my sister's raised eyebrow looks smug. "In other words, she can't just flounce around the colony. She can't interrupt her father during important council meetings to show him a Venus flytrap with a broken stalk."
I flush. That was ten years ago, when I was seven and she was eight, but Blanca will never let me forget it. Just like she'll never let me forget that she's useful to the King — has always been useful to the King — and I'm not.
But I refuse to let her get to me. Even if I don't have Blanca's logical mind and analytical abilities, I have my own attributes. "Oh yeah? The King's Successor also has to be compassionate enough to rescue the spider trapped inside that plant."
I lock eyes with her dark brown ones. We weren't always rivals. Once upon a time, my sister and I played rocket ships together. She was the captain, and I was her best mate. We zoomed here to the planet Dion, hundreds of light-years from Earth, and pretended we were one of the original colonists who landed on this world seventy years ago.
Of course, that was before I surpassed my sister's eating ranking. Before my father, the King, announced one of us would be his Successor. Before my mother passed away.
In other words: a long time ago.
"This whole thing is ridiculous," Blanca says. "I can't believe the council's even considering you. How could you possibly be Successor? You can't even stand in front of a crowd without fainting."
"I was a kid, and I hadn't nutritioned all day."
"This isn't something you can learn. You either have what it takes to be Successor ..." My sister's eyes hack into me like a cleaver. "Or you don't."
"And you don't think I do?"
She doesn't answer for a moment. The air cleanser switches on. Wind blasts from the vents in the space shuttle's curved walls, picking up the aromas and carrying them outside. Well, not literally outside in the real planet, but outside in our twenty square miles of intersecting bubbles. The two space shuttles, where the Aegis live and eat, are parked right in the middle of our colony, and their solar-paneled exteriors make up part of the energy shields that keep the oxygen-rich air in and the CO2-dense air out.
"Sorry, sis," Blanca finally says. "Nobody thinks you've got a chance. The council's just indulging Father in one of his whims." She puts a hand on her hip and looks over my shoulder, as if she's bored with the conversation. "You might want to take the pie out of your pocket. Wouldn't want the guards to catch you sneaking food out of the Banquet Hall. Someone might get the wrong idea."
She turns and swishes away, her eating caftan flowing behind her. The material catches the wind from the vents, and for a moment, it billows out, as haunting as a lone kite tapping against our energy shields.
A sharp pain seizes my chest. I can't tell if it's from Blanca's graceful form or from the sudden certainty that I will never be my sister's best mate ever again.
* * *
Five bubbles from the center of our colony, in the slags of rock that hold floor after floor of living units, there are no blasts of wind. Instead, the odors sit on the air like the nine layers of my Thai ancestors' most auspicious dessert, khanom chan.
Except there's nothing appetizing about these smells. Sweat. Body odor. Insect repellent.
I shudder and ignore the panel next to the front door, which would announce my arrival to my best friend, and walk into a narrow room with furniture set into the walls. All the living units in our colony are equipped this way, so that a single room can serve multiple living functions.
At the moment, a bed is pulled out, and Astana huddles underneath a solar blanket, newly heated from the sun lamps. Her breath comes in uneven pants, and her skin is stretched pale over the bones of her face. She's so thin she could slide between the cracks of the tiled floor.
She props herself on her elbow as soon as she sees me. The blanket slides to the floor, its reflective surface flashing under the lights. "Did you get the pie?"
I shake my head, and she crumples, inches away from joining her blanket.
"Next time, I'll wait until Blanca leaves before I try to take any food."
She wets her lips. "Could I maybe lick your pocket?"
"Oh. Um, sure." My heart shudders to hear her so wistful, but I slip the caftan over my head, leaving a simple tank top. I turn the pocket inside out and hold the raspberry-stained fabric out to my friend. She catches the cotton between her teeth and sinks against the couch, her jaws working the caftan the way a beetle gnaws on bark.
The cloth must've absorbed more juice than I realized. Almost immediately, a bit of color returns to her cheeks.
She sees me watching, and the fabric falls from her lips. "Sorry. I've been craving a taste all week."
"It's okay." This is my fault, really. Back when we were kids, when her mom worked in the royal kitchens, I would sneak Astana bites from my training meals. I wanted to share everything with my best friend, including this weird thing we were learning about in our classes called "eating." By the time I realized I wasn't supposed to share, it was too late. Astana was hooked.
"Besides," she continues. "I don't know if I'll make it to your next visit."
"You're not going anywhere. The nutritionists are going to recalibrate your needs, and in the meantime, I'll give you every excess pill I have. I'll eat until my stomach splits, if that's what it takes."
This is my secret. The strategy that turns my stomach into an infinitely- expanding balloon. The reason I can eat more than anyone else. My best friend in our brand-new world is dying.
We Aegis are assigned a quota every month — a set amount of nutrients we have to consume. Once we meet the quota, any additional nutrients are ours to keep. These little round pills act as currency in our society. We can set them aside to purchase tickets for a virtual vid. Or give them to our friends.
"Your pills can't fix what's wrong with me," she says.
"How can you say that?" I pick up her wrist, my thumb and index finger easily encircling it. "I make the most nutritious pills there are. Everybody knows that."
I smile as I say the words, but I'm only half kidding. Blanca and I have known since we were kids that our genes responded particularly well to the Aegis modification — the one that allows us to extract nutrients from food more efficiently. With this modification, most Aegis can absorb two or three times as many nutrients as the regular person. Blanca and I are five or six times more efficient.
"You have to stop giving me all your pills." Astana's smile, like her body, is a cheap remake of its former self. "Your life's already shortened. You need to enjoy every moment of it."
"Nah. I've got over a decade left on this planet." It's hard for me to be too concerned about my impending death when it's years and years away. Especially when my best friend is in desperate need of nutrition today.
"Can you tell me about the part I missed?" She puts the fabric back in her mouth. "The crust of the pie?"
I bite my lip. How do I explain taste and texture to a girl who's barely known it?
"Oh, come on," she says. "I told you about kissing. Surely you can talk about a measly pie crust."
A few months ago, she painstakingly walked me through every detail of her first kiss with Jacksonville Kim, from his front teeth clicking into hers to the way his tongue cleaned the inside of her mouth like a Hyper Bot.
The memory makes me smile. Even better, Astana's sitting up, and she almost sounds like herself again.
"Just you wait." I aim for light and floaty, like butterfly wings, but relief punches a hole through my voice. "Maybe my mysterious rescuer will swoop back into my life, and then you'll be the one begging me for kissing details."
"That was the only time you ever needed saving." My friend's eyes drift closed. "Not like me. I need rescuing every day."
My stomach falls somewhere near the vicinity of my knees. Because this doesn't sound like my best friend. Gravity has never pulled so strongly on her words. She's never referred to the time I fell into the pond during the King's Birthday Picnic without an exaggerated wink.
I would've drowned that day, ten years ago, had someone not pulled me out and laid me dripping on the shore. But my rescuer left before I could get a look at him. He never even claimed his death debt.
I slide my hand until our wrists are pressed together. Our pulses beat next to each other, our life forces combined into one. The ultimate gesture of friendship and trust. "Do you still want to hear about the crust?"
She nods without opening her eyes. "Please."
"Let's see. The crust of a raspberry pie." I slip my hand into hers and think back to all the times I've eaten the dessert. "Imagine grains of sand as light as dandelion fluff, rolled in the breeze and bursting with sunshine. Threads of brown cut through the flavor, and right when you least expect it, a good strong shot of red ... "
I keep talking nonsense until I hear her slow, even breathing. Until her hand goes limp and falls out of mine.
She looks too peaceful, too much like a corpse. Too much like my mother the last time I saw her.
I root in my knapsack and pull out a flat plastic box. Eight round tablets, the color of a juicy peach, rattle inside.
I wrap my friend's hand around the case. That's better. She looks more alive holding the brightly colored pills. As if no harm can come to her, so long as she has this store of nutrients.
If only it were that easy.
"Nice description," a voice says behind me.
I turn. Astana's brother leans against the entry to the living unit, his head a few inches from the doorjamb. Straight hair falls over his forehead, and his caviar-black eyes sink into me.
My cheeks warm. How long has he been standing there? Did he hear me gushing about my mysterious rescuer?
It shouldn't matter what Carr overhears. I've known him since we were kids, and he's not the type to tease. He used to hang around with my cousin, Denver, and sometimes the four of us would play a game of tag. Most of the time, though, Astana and I would stomp around Protector's Pond, catching and releasing dragonflies with fishing nets, while Carr would dig up worms and sell them as bait to the fishermen. He never made much — just one or two of those peach-colored pills — but looking at the dried mud under his fingernails always made me feel like one of his fat-bellied slugs. Spoiled and more than a little lazy.
I'm not that girl anymore, I want to tell Carr. Any day now, I'll be named Top Aegis of my class, and within a few months, the council might appoint me as the King's Successor.
But Blanca's words echo in my ears. Nobody thinks you've got a chance. The council's just indulging Father in one of his whims. Is she right? Maybe the council members aren't considering me after all. Maybe it's been Blanca all along, and they're just going through the motions.
So I end up not saying anything and simply stare as Carr walks into the room.
"Nice shirt, too." His eyes pause, for a fraction of a second, on my bare arms. "I don't think I've ever seen you in anything like that."
The heat in my cheeks spreads, wrapping around my ribs and stroking its tendrils along my spine. Which is ridiculous. He doesn't mean anything by the compliment. He works way too hard to ever take much notice of me.
And yet, I've always had this reaction to him. He could give me the smallest look, or place the tiniest emphasis on a single word, and my nerves dart around like they're the flame to his flint.
"I, um, took off the caftan because it's hot," I say and then flush. I might as well have told him pills have no taste. But what else could I have said? That I took my caftan off so his sister could suck on it?
Carr yanks on a loop to pull a sink out of the back wall. "What are you doing here?" He passes his hands under a red beam, which zaps the germs off his skin.
"I had some extra pills I wanted to give Astana."
He glances over his shoulder, at his sister's sleeping form, and his eyes fasten on the peach tablets.
My breath gets stuck in my lungs. Colonists don't eat, but that doesn't mean they don't feel hunger. "Carr," I say carefully. "What happens to the pills I leave for Astana?"
He snaps his gaze back to me. "What do you think happens to them?"
"I ... I don't know. She never seems to put on any weight. And I've left countless pills."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Star-Crossed"
Copyright © 2018 Pintip Dunn.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An intense young adult dystopian romance filled with impossible choices, longing, loyalty, and above all, love. When seventeen year old Princess Vela is caught sneaking food to her best friend, her entire future is jeopardized. But the leadership sees something in her and offers her an opportunity to prove herself worthy of taking over her father’s position of Ruler when he passes. Vela and her sister, Blanca, are each challenged to show they have what it takes to lead their people, despite their weaknesses. Vela is compassionate to a fault and Blanca is logical and analytical at the expense of compassion. Each princess is forced into a situation that tests their limits in ways neither is prepared for. Plot The plot is intricately woven with subplotting that made this a “can’t put down” book for me. While I found some of it predictable, the author’s writing and the characters she created made me need to know what happened next. Dunn drew me into her world, which is richly built, and made me care about fictional people in a way I haven’t in a long time. I wanted a different ending, but the one I got was both gut-wrenching and satisfying. The Characters Well-developed and incredibly real, Carr, Vela, and the rest of the cast were real to me, and I loved them wholly, never wanting to the story to end. Carr is what every book boyfriend should be with a deep sense of family loyalty and strength, with a poetic side that made me swoon. Vela was everything I want in a young adult heroine. Her compassion for others and sense of doing the right thing at any cost made her one of my favorite young adult protagonists of all time. Top Five Things I Loved About STAR-CROSSED 1. Vela. She was by far my favorite character of 2018 and in my top five young adult protagonists of all time. She’s warm, loyal, loving, and compassionate with a strong sense of doing the right thing. Her love for her family, her best friend, and Carr made her utterly relatable. 2. Carr. Ahh, what can I say about the dreamy boy who would give his life to save his sister? There is so much to him, but the way he cares not only about his sister but Vela, too, makes him worthy of Vela’s love. 3. Impossible choices. Vela is put in charge of choosing the boy who will die to save her father’s life, but when the only boy she’s ever loved, Carr, puts himself in the running, she finds herself in a situation with no good outcomes. This is the type of situation that makes for page-turning conflict. 4. Dystopian worlds. My favorite genre because anything can happen and nothing is ever as it seems. 5. The ending. Oh my God that ending. It gutted me but it made me FEEL. Bottom Line An outstanding young adult dystopian tale that will reside among my favorites for years to come. Disclaimer I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
”Our ancestors on Earth thought that by hurtling hundreds of light-years from the original planet, we’d somehow get closer to heaven. But they were wrong. Heaven is in the same place it always was. Infinitely far.” Star-Crossed is set in a world where there’s limited food. And in order for everyone to keep on surviving, certain people can become an Aegis, and have a genetic modification in order to eat food to then have it turned into pills so that more people can gain nutrition. In order to survive, once the king starts getting too weak, The Fittest Trials are hosted to find someone who can be an organ donor and die so that the king may live. What’s scary about Star-Crossed is how realistic it is. It’s a very futuristic take on a potential food shortage crisis, but not entirely impossible. In this first book, we aren’t given a whole lot of backstory on the food shortage, or really what the vegetation of the planet looks like. But this is mostly because the main character, Vela is a princess and Aegis and spends most of her time in the castle. I really enjoyed this story, however I hated Vela’s and Astana’s friendship. And I really disliked how Astana’s treatment of Vela was made out to be normal or okay. She blames Vela several times for killing her brother, ignores her, and at one point attacks her just because Vela is doing her job. Other than that, the story was interesting, the world was unique, the ending was startling yet satisfying, the romance was cute, and Vela’s relationship with her father was a breath of fresh air especially in YA fiction. I think fans of The Belles would enjoy this especially. I received a copy of this book from netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
4.5 stars really. This is my first Pintip Dunn book, and I can understand why I've heard such great things! Star-Crossed has all the expected parts of a YA science fiction story, with a very unique and surprising ending. I was very intrigued by the story from the very beginning. We got a pretty clear run-down of what had happened to the people on this spaceship when they landed earlier than planned, and had no way to make all the food to feed all the people they had brought with them. However it wasn't bogged down as much as some science fiction can be. The author gave just enough background info to make it clear why things had to be the way they were, in order to get the story going. More details were distilled as the story went on. As I began reading, I immediately thought the pills everyone had to take sounded pretty yucky, I guess partly from how they were made! The story soon morphed into a bit of a competition, with our main character, Princess Vela, being expected to make the final call on who would be the person giving up their life to save the King. By doing this, she would be showing the Council if she was the right person to take over the throne when her father died, or if her sister, who had always been a part of the running of the colony, should step up. Making the decision itself wasn't the only obstacle for Vela though. There was her best friend's ever-growing sickness. There was the fact that her best friend's brother, Carr, a boy she'd always looked at as if he was someone special, possibly being the best choice to sacrifice his life so her father could live. But could she choose him as the Fittest, with her feelings, and either way, could she allow the competition to be run fairly? Competing with her sister, who had been given another task to complete to prove that she was the better successor to their father, opened up a story-line of possible sabotage. So the competition was not just about which boy would have to sacrifice their lives, but if her sister would do something to make Vela's choice harder, or look as if she wasn't fit based on how she handled it. And there was someone else it seemed messing with all the competitions. But why were they doing the things they did, and who was it? I kind of guessed who it could be, once I realized that it might not be her sister. But the way things took a turn at the very end, putting Carr's life on the line earlier than normal, along with the death of another major character, I didn't see the way the twist would go at the end. And I really liked it! I feel like the story showed all the ways to be a great leader, and brought up so many moral dilemmas that would be hard to keep straight and still think of your own friends and family. A great science-fiction read, with some really unique ideas and a plot to keep you on your toes until the very end!
Although Star-Crossed is reminiscent of The Hunger Games with its trials, Ms. Dunn has added a dollop of freshness with the concept of people being divided into Eaters and Non-Eaters. Woe to the Non-Eater who loses a trial because the consequences are dire but the truth is no one has a comfortable position in this world that’s focused on fighting off starvation. One facet of the society’s attention to food made me think of how certain “improvements” in our own food supply has led to our acceptance of a loss of taste in some instances. For example, the food gods apparently decided that watermelons need to be seedless but have you really compared the taste of seedless (which is not truly seedless) to seeded, the kind with those big black seeds that are great for spitting? I have to say I have very little interest in the seedless variety because they just don’t have any flavor, a perfect example of improvement gone awry. At any rate, Vela and the rest of her people are colonists on a distant planet and their original supplies were destroyed, making food the most critical need. In an odd scientific endeavor, they developed a genetic change that enabled some people to consume copious quantities of food and process it to share with others in the form of pills. Now, a new problem has arisen in that the king, Vela’s father, may die and the succession is in question. Vela has to find a way to save the boy she cares for from the ultimate sacrifice while at the same time securing her place and future and her compassionate nature makes her choices even more difficult. The real question is, when is sacrifice taken too far with the cost being so high that the intended benefit is no longer enough? The young princess is faced with dilemmas that are nearly impossible to resolve without possibly losing a piece of her soul and I empathized with her completely. I simply can’t imagine having to pit the survival of my father against that of the boy I loved but becoming a true queen worthy of the title does require a surrender of personal wants and needs. I’ve enjoyed Ms. Dunn’s work before and this is no exception; as a standalone, there won’t be any sequel but I’ll eagerly await her next book, whatever it may be.
Phew--that ending! This was my first book from Ms. Dunn, but definitely not my last! Though at times the world-building was slightly off-putting (a small segment of the population gorging themselves on food 6X a day to have the nutrients extracted from them and put into pill form to feed the rest? Ewwwww...at least that process wasn't described in detail, thank goodness) the underlying story and the characters make it almost impossible to put down. When the cover says, "Only one can survive" they're not kidding--and it's heartwrenching at times... I loved Vela, Carr, Astana, and Vela's father, the king--such wonderful characters! (Though, quick question--what's up with people's names? There's a weird blend of "people" names--Adam, Blanca, Viola--and "place" names--Brooklyn, Denver--I assume it's to help them remember Earth? but I don't think it's ever explained, and it's a bit strange...) The way Ms. Dunn sets up their conflicts so that they're all i opposition to each other while still wanting what they believe is best for those around them is just amazing, and there were times I nearly despaired of her being able to find an HEA for everyone. (Spoiler: she kind of doesn't...? But kind of does...) I loved watching Vela as she struggled with the task the council gave to her, trying to become the leader that she hoped (and her father was pretty sure) she could be. Honestly--that last 15% or so? Couldn't. Put. It. Down. So--focus on the people and their relationships and don't spend too much time pondering the world itself, is my recommendation here. The story will sweep you away, even if the world is a bit...weird. And read more Pintip Dunn! She clearly has got some strong writing chops, here :) Rating: 4 stars / A- I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
If nothing else, this book has the most unique plot I have ever encountered in a YA sci-fi story, although it could also be included in the dystopian and/or fantasy genres as it's kinda all over the place. Unfortunately, that's pretty much where the pros end for me. The new world presented to us is divided into two classes, the Eaters and Non-Eaters. There's not enough food to accommodate the population but luckily an elite few carry a gene that allows them to convert digested food into a highly nutritious waste that is then provided to the Non-Eaters in the form of a capsule. Yes, you read that right. It's pretty out there, a little too far off the rails for my tastes. Wait, I'm not finished.... Princess Vela is our narrator in this story, and while she's a likeable character, her dialogue is very juvenile, leaving this book firmly in the genre of very young adult, more like preteen in my opinion. Vela's father, the King, needs a full organ transplant *eye roll* which is to be procured from the healthiest Non-Eater and lo and behold guess who ends up being the perfect candidate? Vela's love interest. This story was not one that I could sink my teeth into. I found it borderline ridiculous most of the time and the obligatory "bad guy" was obvious from the get-go. I was provided an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I've never read anything like Star-Crossed so I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. It's a mixture of many things and is certainly unique! The story is parts YA dystopia, sci-fi and even fantasy, but is a little confusing at times, to the point where I wasn't sure who I liked and disliked. As one of her father, the King's future heirs, Princess Vela is tasked with finding a way to save him. If only the best chance of success didn't involve risking her potential love interest Carr... The world building is quirky and dramatic. In a society where food is extremely limited we meet the Eaters and Non-Eaters. The Eaters are elite members of society who are genetically able to produce food capsules/pills to help feed society. I'm not going to go into the how of this, I'll leave it as a surprise. Let's just say that eating is encouraged and the larger you are, the more beautiful you are. The concept didn't always sit well with me as it had a strange WALL-E, Jetsons or Hungry meal-with-a-pill vibe, mixed with er feeding baby birds (still with me?), but it was memorable. I liked Vela and the writing is full of witty moments and dramatic tension. I'm not sure about food as a subject matter, but it could scarily have a real sense of potential in real life with a world facing with global warming and finite resources. 3 Stars in my Sky! I received a review copy
Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn is interesting, innovative, creative, and maybe a bit weird. As a sci-fi, romance, YA novel it pushes you to think about things from a different perspective. As we learn more about Vela, her world, the troubles they face and the solution they have been forced to, it makes you think and wonder. Vela is torn by love, duty and finding a future for her people, her friend and her love. Overall I recommend Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn as something that was truly unexpected and worth the read. (I voluntarily reviewed an advance review copy of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
Unique sci-fi! Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Star-crossed by Pintip Dunn! Aegis eat for the entire community. They eat and then donate their nourishment, which is then made into pills for everyone to take or to use as currency. Astana is dying and her best friend, Princess Vela, steals food for her and eats more than her quota so she can give Astana her extra pills to use as currency. When Vela is caught sneaking food to her friend, she’s sentenced to administering the Fittest Trials in which one teenager is chosen, out of two hundred, to sacrifice themselves for the King. The story line seems odd at first but grows in complexity and details. The whole Aegis concept is completely unique and original. The story gains complexity as characters are introduced and more are added. Star-crossed is a sci-fi mystery that earns 4 stars for originality! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
4 stars — Well, this one ended with a lot of tears…it’s been a few months since a book has done that to me. And it wasn’t the only time I teared up in this book! Which is not to say that this is a sad book, by any means. But Vela goes through some very tough challenges that bring forth the feels. This is my first read by this author, but I doubt it will be my last. Ms. Dunn has created a very intriguing world of Earth colonists struggling with challenging circumstances. For the most part I loved the world she created, and the way she presented the choices these colonists made in order to survive. For me, it was very unique and thought-provoking. I don’t read a lot of non-contemporary books, so I don’t have a huge depth to compare it to, but occasionally I would be pulled out of the book and wonder why they would use certain colloquialisms or whatnot. But not enough to really damage my enjoyment. It’s not necessarily a negative, just something that I noticed. Princess Vela was an interesting heroine to follow…she was kind, sensitive, thoughtful, and she felt so much. I could empathize with so much of what she was feeling. I will admit that she took longer than I anticipated coming to the right conclusion on the major task, when from an outsider’s perspective it was quite obvious the right solution. That was a bit frustrating, especially because it didn’t even cross her mind. But I suppose she was so wrapped up in her feelings for Carr, and her worry for him, Astana, the other sick colonists, and the colonists in general…not to mention the mystery surrounding the trials, and the problems therein. I mostly forgave her for it, but I wouldn’t have minded a little less naivety. But I guess this was her coming of age story, eh? She had to reach it on her own, at her own time. Carr was pretty swoony actually. I hated that it took him so long to understand Vela’s emotional struggles with his choice, but he got there. My heart broke for him, feeling unloved by the people who were supposed to love him. I was rooting for their romance from the beginning. I LOVED them together, and I truly felt their connection to one another, and their chemistry. This book had some strong secondary characters, but also a few that disappointed me…though perhaps that was intentional? One major character I disliked, that I probably was supposed to like, was Astana. I just didn’t feel like I got to see many of her redeeming qualities. And because of the nature of the plot, we didn’t really get to see what connected Vela to Astana, especially with such dedication. I was also disappointed with the lack of resolution for Blanca. I don’t know if that’s because she’ll have her own book, or just an oversight. But she was missing from some very key scenes, and I wanted to know what would happen there…what her feelings would be about the climax of the book, and the resolution. I felt bad for her, and wanted more from her story…though I did love what I got. On the other hand, I LOVED Vela’s father, and the relationship he had with his daughter. It was truly a highlight of the story. I was also surprised with how much I enjoyed Master Simjing (sp?) in the end. Not to mention the other little stories with some of the fittest candidates, and the sick colonists. All in all a very entertaining read that gave me LOTS of feels and made me truly think in a philosophical manner about the choices leaders must make, and how hard that can be.
Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn made me want to read more quickly to find out what was going to happen next, but it also made me want to read more slowly to make the story last longer. I've heard so many great things about Pintip Dunn's writing -- I was excited to finally jump in and read a book of hers. Star-Crossed exceeded my expectations! Set on a futuristic planet with problems and conspiracies and new-found love, Star-Crossed has elements that will appeal to most fan bases. But if you enjoy sci-fi and/or romance and/or mysteries - pick up this book for sure! With captivating characters, a finely-layered plot, and a sci-fi setting, Pintip Dunn's Star-Crossed captured my interest on the first page and held tight through the final page. Some of my favorite lines from the story: "This doesn't sound like my best friend. Gravity has never pulled so strongly on her words." "He could give me the smallest look, or place the tiniest emphasis on a single word, and my nerves dart around like they're the flame to his flint." "The tears poured out of me the way lava rushes from a volcano--fierce and unstoppable." "The laughter bubbles inside me like carbonated soda, as if it was always there, waiting for the tab to be pulled." "The next few hours pass like a swarm of bees--chaotic and fast, with one minute blending into the next. But once in a while, a moment lifts out of the fray and descends like an individual sting." "Astana can't scream so we're doing it for her." I highly recommend Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn to all readers of all ages. [I received an early copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]
Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn is a captivating book for any YA reader. Pintip uses science fiction to write an incredible story about a life of Eaters and Non-Eaters. An Eater is a person who is able to eat food. A Non-Eater is a person who is considered to be poor and unable to eat real food. They have to eat supplements but if a Non-Eater eats real food something terrible happens. Princess Vela is the daughter of a king who’s time is soon to be over, since he is dying. Her decision could save the king or kill him but the problem is…her love interest. Carr is a candidate to save her father’s life, but doing so will mean his death. Throughout her mission Vela must overcome her feelings for Carr, make sure her best friend Astana survives, and find out who is trying to kill her and her father. With only a couple of weeks to figure everything out will she make a decision? Pintip took every moment in Star-Crossed and made them last. She has a great plotline, great realistic characters, and a teen love story that would make every teen girl scream with sadness and happiness. Every book I have read from her is better than the last one. Finding out that Star-Crossed is going to be in a series makes me very happy. **Received a copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed.**
"Star-Crossed" takes place on Dion, a planet far from Earth, where a group of travelers have gone. While the planet was supposed to have been terraformed, only a few of the terraforming machines made it and so it is difficult to grow crops or raise livestock. The people were saved by a genetic modification that allows certain individuals, labeled Aegis, to eat large quantities of food, effectively (5-6x normal rate) turn it into nutrients and then have the nutrients extracted. The extracted nutrients are then made into pills for the remaining colonists. The Aegis are revered in part because they help keep everyone alive (having a small amount of food feed a lot of people), but also because they do so at great personal sacrifice- they will live to be about 30 years old while everyone else will live to be about 90. Vela and her sister Blanca are Aegis- they are also Princesses. The King, their father, is an Aegis who is nearing 90. He was part of the original group of colonists who traveled to Dion and has had several families since then (however, because they were Aegis, they are all dead now). He has only been able to survive by receiving a full body organ transplant every 5 years. The person who gives his life to keep the King alive is known as the Fittest because they are selected from young people primarily because of their physical health. In exchange for their life, a family member receives food for life without becoming an Aegis. Only the Aegis and family of the Fittest eat actual food. The King has decided it is time for his last organ transplant, and during the remaining years, he will train a successor- either Vela or her sister- to take his place. CORA, the machine which computes outcomes (all human decisions are confirmed by CORA), has agreed that a blood relative would be the best successor to the King. To determine who this person should be, Vela and Blanca are given personal challenges. For Vela, who is very emotional and empathetic, she is given the task to decide who will be the Fittest and die for her father, the King. This task is made harder by the fact that her best friend's brother and childhood crush, Carr, is the apparent front-runner. He is determined to win, because it will save his sister, Astara. Vela used to sneak her childhood friend Astara snacks from the food she was training with, and in doing so, Astara's body no longer will accept the nutrient pills. Only some people will become immune to the pills with food exposure, and Astara is unfortunately one of them. She needs food, but only the Aegis and the Fittest families receive it. Exceptions cannot be made unless one of those people goes without. Fighting between her duty to the colony and her growing love for Carr, Vela is struggling to make the right decisions. All the while, she is judged by the leadership council, who are trying to decide between her and Blanca. However, things become even more difficult when someone begins to sabotage the trials. Vela has even harder decisions to make- and a saboteur to find. Overall, this was an interesting and different YA sci-fi book. While most of Carr and Vela's feelings were pre-existing, we get to revisit their childhood memories/connections which builds the relationship for the reader. Dunn is a talented writer and this book was easily as fast-paced and engaging as her Forget Tomorrow series. I was fully pulled in to this alternate world and fully engaged with her characters. That being said, I did not