eARC Review: Our Dark Stars by Audrey Grey & Krystal Wade
Both Talia and Will would rather get space-tossed than trust one another, but with the queen’s forces chasing them across the galaxy and the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance, they’ll forge the unlikeliest of alliances to survive.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Author: Audrey Grey & Krystal Wade
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Blaze Publishing, LLC.
Page Count: 316
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Cover Artist: Molly Phipps
My Rating: ★★
Will and his crew aboard the Odysseus come across a strange object floating out in space. Hoping to get a good payout and a good reputation back, the crew risk their lives in order to bring the vessel onto the ship. When they successfully do, the metallic object appears to be no more than junk. Will, a Flesher-turned-Mock (human turned into a droid), was a captain in the queen’s guard, When he failed to shoot down an Alliance ship which had then escaped, he was demoted and is threatened with remaining and Endor (a droid that cannot shift into an upgraded body) and therefore having a long-life cut short.
The plot shifts back one hundred years to Talia, who is preparing for the night when she will be sold to Prince Cassius as his future wife. She wants to be a pilot, but that isn’t considered to be a position for a future Sovereign. Her harsh grandmother reminds her that she has no future other than becoming a wife to a Thorassian. When she is introduced to her betrothed, Cassius, she realizes why she is being sold into this union: her family has accrued a bad rep with their tolerance of Mocks–a term used for human-like droids. Mocks gained a bad reputation when a virus spread that overwrote their system and allowed them to defy orders of humans. Talia’s Mock and best friend Ailat, is made an example of at the celebration by Cassius, and is revealed to carry the same virus. Ailat flees, and becomes a wanted criminal. Talia searches for Ailat, but is then forced to leave the planet. Shortly after takeoff, her ship is attacked by rebel Mocks. Her family forces her into an escape pod, where she enters a deep sleep.
The story converges to the same time frame when Talia wakes up and exits the escape pod that was brought aboard the Odysseus. Unaware that one hundred years have passed, Talia knows enough to keep her identity a secret, and tells the crew of the Odysseus that she is Ailat. Will, suspicious of her sincerity, eventually discovers that her true identity is in fact, the long-lost Starchaser princess. Initially unaware of its significance, both Will and Talia learn about how much everything has changed in a century. Talia, previously knowing Mocks as second to humans, learns that now humans are second to Mocks. Will also realizes that some of his origins as a human have stuck with him, even after his transformation into a Mock, which causes him to accept the truth about himself and the fact that he is a hybrid.
The Starchaser dynasty is known only by few, as the current queen took great lengths to wipe the history from the people’s common knowledge. Talia’s existence becomes known to one of Will’s former comrades, when then alerts the queen. A bounty is put on Talia for anyone who can bring her in. When Talia discovers who the Mock-queen is, the situation becomes all-the-more dire.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
”Never forget that, Talia. You are a Starchaser, descendant of the first explorers.”
I almost DNF’d this read at a little under halfway through. I decided to stick with it because the plot became more complicated right at the moments I thought I was going to call it quits. While certain traits were intriguing, in the end, the book was too predictable and lacked the individuality I was hoping for.
Our Dark Stars is set in outer space, in various settings. It varies between onboard spaceships, and travels from planet to planet, following in the wake of the characters. The story jumps between 3731 AD and 3631 AD, then remains in 3731 for the remainder of the book.
Society is comprised of a mixture of humans and droids–the droids having different variations within their category (i.e. Ender, Permanent) signifying their ability to jump from one body to another, essentially living forever. Everything is very scientifically inclined, as no religions are identified.
Pacing & Readability
The pacing remains steady and rather fast. The only instances it lulled was when Talia first awoke on the Odysseus. Otherwise, it was an easy and quick to read.
Point-Of-View & Characters
The point-of-view not only shifts between Will and Talia’s characters, it also shifts between past and present time frames. Will Perrault is one of the main characters but starts out as an antagonist to Talia. With the relations between Fleshers and Mocks being strained for years, the two don’t know what to think of one another until the truth is uncovered.
”But don’t forget what your kind did. When I found you tossed into the mines like a piece of trash, skull split open, you were half-dead. That’s what the fleshers did to you. They’re savage, cruel beasts. It was us who took you in, who made you one of our own to save your life.”
Will’s character holds the most complexity, as his human and droid counterparts are constantly warring against one another. This aspect comes out more and more as the plot moves on, and he begins to develop feelings for Talia. He constantly tries to deny his human origins and emotions, trying to prove that he is a Mock. It is through Will that his rag-tag diverse crew of scavengers, including Lux, Leo, Jane, and Dorian are introduced.
Talia Starchaser grew up in a life of privilege. The next in line to the Starchaser dynasty, the princess is made into a makeshift scape-goat for the Starchaser family to patch up their reputation with the rest of the royals. Her abusive grandmother makes Talia’s position very clear and is part of the reason why Talia decides to betray her best friend, even though she doesn’t want to. Talia’s character acts privileged, and this is clear when she meets Will and his crew. It is a trait that makes her rather unlikeable, as she comes across as snobby.
Diversity plays a large role in the casting specifically in race and sexual orientation. In general, the plot rotates around the idea of station-reversal between the Fleshers and Mocks, ultimately driving them to work with one another in the end.
⇒ “What goes around comes back around.”
This was the aspect of this book that I disliked the most. The way this book ended was so disappointing. I was hoping for the moment for reconciliation between Ailat and Talia, but it never happens. Ailat’s character becomes unredeemable, which I don’t think is a great message to enlist. Yes, Talia did Ailat wrong. In turn, Ailat did Talia wrong as well by killing the rest of her family. Talia still went through lengths to find Ailat after the incident at the gathering. While what happened to Ailat after she became a fugitive was tragic, she never gave Talia the chance to explain her side. Both parties were are fault here. Yet, neither of them fully humbled themselves before the other in order to understand and forgive, resulting in this “payback” mentality (mostly seen from Ailat’s character.) It made the ending feel incomplete and somewhat unjust for me. I get that this is Sci-Fi, and disagreements are often settled by battles, but I hoped for more from these characters.
Things that I liked:
⇒ The layout of the book, and how it alternated point-of-views between Talia and Will in the different eras.
⇒ While the romance between Will and Talia is obvious (immediately when he says that Talia isn’t his “type” I knew they’d end up together), it managed to be realistic and not over-the-top. It didn’t take away from the main focus of the plot and helped to give further incentive to the characters’ decisions.
⇒ Will’s character overall, mainly with how he is both a Mock and a Flesher.
Things that I didn’t like:
⇒ This book felt like any other Young Adult Sci-Fi. There wasn’t anything that set it apart.
⇒ The brashness of some of the characters, and the overall sexually-charged interactions. Personally, this aspect made this another reason why this may be a read more appropriate for the New Adult genre.
⇒ The “what goes around comes back around” mentality. Payback over reconciliation.
Overall, Our Dark Stars didn’t really impress me. While there were some elements that I enjoyed, there was nothing that made it distinguishable from its genre. It felt like a mix of Heart of Iron with a dash of The Hunger Games towards the end.
Vulgarity: Moderate. I counted 50 words total.
Sexual content: While there’s nothing explicit, some characters were crude with making sexual remarks. There’s also a scene in a strip club, and mention of brothels and escorts.