Looking back through the books I’d read already this year, I hadn’t read anything science-fiction or fantasy yet, which is surprising for the girl who grew up mostly reading YA dystopian novels. That’s why when I came across the ARC for The Stars Between Us by Cristin Terrill, I was so excited to be brought into a fictionalized world…and especially one in a world where travelling from one planet to another was just a regular day. Throw in a potential rags-to-riches storyline, a little romance and a mystery about who is trying to ruin the main character’s life, and I was sold.
There’s always been a mystery to Vika Hale’s life. Ever since she was a child, she’s had an unknown benefactor providing for her and her family, making sure that Vika and her sister received the best education they could. Now, Vika longs for a bigger life than one as a poor barmaid on a struggling planet, but those dreams feel out of reach. Until one day, Vika learns that her benefactor was a billionaire magnate who recently died under suspicious circumstances, and Vika has shockingly been included in his will. Invited to live on a glittering neighbouring planet, Vika steps into a world she can hardly believe is real.
The only blight on Vika’s lavish new life is the constant presence of Sky Foster, a mysterious young man from Vika’s past who works for her benefactors. She doesn’t like or trust Sky, but when she narrowly escapes an explosion and realizes someone is targeting the will’s heirs, Vika knows Sky is the only one who can help her discover the identity of the bomber before she becomes their next victim. As Vika and Sky delve into the truth of the attacks, they uncover a web of secrets, murder, and an underground rebellion that may hold the answers they’ve been looking for. But Sky isn’t who he seems to be, and Vika may not escape this new life unscathed.
I love a good dystopian YA story, and the fact that this one is in another galaxy is icing on the cake.
As an adult reading YA, I always have to think back to how my (in this case) 18-year-old self would think of things to be able to put myself in the characters’ shoes, and though I understand the naivety of both Vika and Sky, I had a hard time connecting to Vika because she had this great relationship with her dad—which was some of my favourite parts of the whole book—but I found it really hard to believe that she would be so selfish and not help her family out more than she did. She was smart enough and had suffered enough in her life to know that they needed her, making me dislike her more than I think was intended. That said, I really enjoyed Vika and Sky’s story and how they interacted with each other—it was fun and believable. And though I would have liked to understand Vika’s mom and sister a little better, the rest of the secondary characters were very nicely written. I had a good sense of them and where they belonged in the world that was created.
Speaking of the world-building, which I thought was very good, I wish I knew a little bit more about planets outside of the two main ones that Vika was part of because I would have liked to understand the dynamics of the universe a little bit better. I also wish Terrill delved a little deeper into the rebellion and what they were doing (and how) because it was mentioned a lot, and we got a lot of surface information into what they were doing, but for how heavily the plot leaned on it (or tried to), I felt like I didn’t have all the pieces. I also felt the ending was rushed—but I’m not going to go into detail because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.
There were two things I absolutely loved. One of them is a spoiler I’m not going to talk about beyond just saying I like that Terrill let the reader in on Sky’s POV from the beginning. The other is that there were many twists about who the bad guy ultimately was—and I was guessing most of the way through the book.
I think lovers of YA and sci-fi/fantasy will devour this book. I wish it were in a series so we could see how things play out for the characters after the conclusion of this arc.
“Vika felt herself sinking back into them; she’d never realized before today how comfortable being rich was. Every surface she came into contact with was clean and soft, like all the sharp edges of the world had been sanded down just for her.” —Cristin Terrill, The Stars Between Us
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the advanced copy and Aldebaran S for the featured photo.