Review: Starswept by Mary Fan


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Published: 29 August 2017

Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Category: Young Adult/Romance/Science Fiction

Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

Rating: 2 Stars

The concept of an interstellar connection is a fascinating one. What would happen if Earth made contact with some alien race? To be honest, I don’t think it would go all that well and, behind the facade of Papilio, it looks like I would be right in this futuristic world.

I wanted to like this story and for a little while I did, but the inconsistent pacing made it difficult to truly connect with any of the characters. The first quarter of the book was alright, if a bit bland. Between it and the second quarter of the book, there were things happening that I could tell were meant to be suspenseful, but actually reading it never gave me that feeling.

The second half of the book, when things finally did start happening, felt convoluted and dull. I thought that being introduced to the alien world that everyone on Iris’s Earth aspires to go to, Andrye, would be interesting, but it wasn’t really delved into. There was enough description to place the reader alongside Iris, but aside from a view descriptions of ornate clothes and buildings, I didn’t find anything special about this world. To me it lacked development.

There were some story points that weren’t resolved that frustrated me. I could’ve seen if the resolution was put off until the end, but once I finished the book and found myself without answers, I was annoyed. For instance, when the story beings Estelle is a violist who is much higher ranked than Iris, yet seems to view her as a threat. This wasn’t really explained, except for some other characters saying Iris was able to turn her personal feelings into musical arrangements. Her low ranking and this potential never meshed for me, nor did Estelle’s suspicion of her.

Then there is the incident that catapults Iris into the sight of the Andrye citizens that become her patrons. The only reason she was able to perform a solo on that crucial night was because the person intended for it, Estelle, was poisoned and couldn’t perform. However, the identity of the person that did this is never confirmed. Iris suspects that Estelle choked, but given what was revealed about her previously, I find that hard to believe. This whole occurrence felt like a deus ex-machina.

Once Iris is on the ship to Andrye, I noticed some inconsistencies with the telepathy that they’re able to use. They should have been able to read a person’s mind without question and yet before Iris puts up the mental block, the Andrye pilot can’t figure out how she knows about the mechanics of their telepathy. It didn’t make sense to me and made me question what were the real “rules” of this ability.

The love story components were dissatisfying. Iris reveals herself to be in love with Damiuel. This borderlines insta-love because they only communicated a dozen or so times before meeting in person and I never understood where her strong emotion or connection came it. It rang false; her friendship with Milo, someone she’s know her whole life, would’ve made more sense despite her telling Damiuel she regarded him as a brother. Her actions said otherwise, hence my apprehension about her declaration to Damiuel.

The book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. I don’t think this book was billed as the first in a series of any length, so if it is indeed a standalone, I dislike the ending because there’s a lot left open. The underground movement, for example, is still around. What happens to them? To their plans?

This book might satisfy those that enjoy a slower paced novel with a rather quickly developed love story. I personally didn’t care for the mish-mosh of pacing, cardboard characters, and unanswered questions without indication of resolution.




I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

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