Monday, 8 June 2015

The Stars Never Rise (Untitled series #1) by Rachel Vincent

Description from Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her. 

The Stars Never Rise wasn't a poor novel. It had really exhilarating action scenes, impressionable characters, a strong build-up of the setting, and occasional twists which at least I didn't see coming. Yet, I can't say that I loved this novel. Maybe it was the insta-love (even though well justified, but it didn't really feel real to me) or the fact that I was never really invested in the story or characters. While the novel kept me entertained, the certain hollowness didn't make a long-lasting impression.

You can immediately see that The Stars Never Rise isn't the first book written by the author. The language/style of writing never bores the reader as Vincent is very capable of maintaining the readers' attention, whether it was with the description of the doomed society or the action scenes. While the novel might include the generic elements of a YA  fantasy novel (the special main character, dysfunctional family, the lovely-eyed love interest), it was able to offer other things than just the basics. The refreshing and sometimes even bold storyline was definitely the strongest element, with the Church's constricting rules about procreation and occupation among many others. I really liked the fact how the Church and the government were so tied together (in the novel, wouldn't be so nice in real life) and how the author had decided to include many of the officials and politicians in the storyline as (major) minor characters. 

If you picture yourself living in a world of constant survival, it may be quite obvious that you try to live your life to the fullest, trying to be fearless of the consequences of your decisions. Even though I liked the fact that the author had included this live-while-it-lasts element to the novel, especially in terms of the romance, I also kind of cringed because of it. While Nina and her love interest most definitely are described to be interested in one another, I never saw the chemistry between them. While I liked both characters, I didn't feel the connection between them. Maybe it was just me, but the way the romance came across to me (the whole relationship was thrust upon them, without Nina really getting a chance to breath and take all the events in before getting it on with a stranger) made me like it less.

The novel had a strong start and immediately I was absorbed and forgot about my surroundings, but maybe after reading 25% of the book, the storyline started to get slower and slower. Not until the remaining 30%, the pace quickened and interesting reveals were made, making the beginning and ending my favourite parts of the book. The middle section came across a lot weaker as the majority of it was all about introducing new characters and the build-up the romance (which wasn't really that convincing), and not as much about Nina coming terms with her changing life. There was this really interesting twist in the middle of the book (one that I can't really recall happening ever before in YA literature) which made things more interesting, but also caused lots of questions and a bit hesitant attitude by me. 

I suppose it's one of those "it's me not you" things as I've read quite many raving reviews of The Stars Never Rise, and while the book was entertaining I never became invested in anything. This caused me to read some of the chapters half-heartedly, then going back to re-read some stuff making me even more frustrated with the book, and myself too. I think quite many will enjoy the book as it most definitely had the gripping elements of a good YA novel, but I most likely won't be coming back to the series, unfortunately (unless the second book will be a major game changer). 

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