Last Star Burning #1
by Caitlin Sangster
Published on October 10, 2017 by Simon Pulse
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.
Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.
When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.
But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.
I. . . wasn’t prepared for this book. You know, maybe I should have read the synopsis a bit more closely because I thought I was going to be reading a sweeping YA fantasy and that wasn’t really the case. And that’s not a bad thing, to be honest, because this book has altered my view of dystopians a bit for the better.
Let’s start with the good: characters. Were they perfect(ly flawed)? No. Did I still like them? Yeah. Sev is an interesting protagonist. On the one hand, I loved that she has this fierceness in her that comes out at times. Her personal history is unfortunate, taking the blame for something that her mother did and having to deal with that for the rest of her life. You can see the strength she’s forced to hold on to because weakness could put her in even more trouble.
At the same time, I got really angry with her. I needed her to be curious. Just a little. Maybe ask a few questions, not jump blindly into situations without knowing a bit more information. That sort of thing. It left Sev as a character that I didn’t mind reading about but she didn’t stand out. And neither did the rest of the cast in the way that something average just exists rather than shining above the rest.
Which is how I felt about this book in general. Last Star Burning was good, but not great. I found the plot far too drawn out to keep my attention for more than a few pages at a time. So many things could have been solved if Sev had just questioned what was going on or the people around her. Like I said, I needed her to be more curious because it felt like the lack of information just served the plot rather than feeling natural for her character. I think I would’ve loved this book a million times more if the plot hadn’t felt like information was constantly being withheld. Sev could be a strong character.
Ultimately, I was bored with this book. I put it down several times and it wasn’t because of the author’s writing style (which I enjoyed) or the world-building (definitely well done and I could tell a lot of thought went into it). I wanted to enjoy reading this book but instead found the predictability and frustration with the protagonist took over. I also think that my expectations of what kind of book this was going in (a fantasy) had an effect on my opinion, at least to start off. Though I would call Last Star Burning an average first book, I think this series could go somewhere and look forward to seeing where Sangster takes it!