Heidi's Reviews > And All the Stars

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst
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Jan 17, 13

Read from December 10 to 14, 2012

In the last year or so I’ve been pushing myself to read more SciFi, but even still there’s one thing that I’ve always completely shied away from: aliens. I just…I don’t know, it’s not my thing I guess. I prefer my wizards and fairies and dragons, I’m not so much of the ‘take me to your leader’ ‘phone home’ crowd. But then I was seduced by a gorgeous cover (which accurately reflects the character it portrays–huzzah!), and raving reviews by friends (knowing this was dedicated to my buddies Wendy and Flannery didn’t hurt), and I was willing to go out of my box for And All the Stars.

I am oh so glad that I did. Höst has found that magical formula for using alien invasion to show humanity at their best that has heretofore only been seen by me in Doctor Who. She created a completely original apocalypse and populated it with one of the best exhibitions of friendship and endurance I have had the pleasure to read.

And All the Stars throws you directly into the action, and lets the world building flow naturally rather than slamming you with info dumps. The trade off is that for a good chunk of the book we as readers have little to no idea of what’s actually going on. We uncover the truth in time with our characters. Personally, I loved the mystery and the horror of uncertainty, but this may be a dealbreaker for some readers. I did find myself blinking in confusion on occasion during action scenes and from certain world building aspects, but I was so completely taken with the players in this character-driven plot that these stumbles hardly seemed to matter.

Our story is told through the eyes of Maddie, a young artist who is separated from her family and forced to find a way to survive an alien invasion. Caught at Ground Zero when an alien Spire rose from the ground in Sydney, Maddie finds herself more acutely affected than perhaps any other known survivor. But Maddie does survive, and not on her own–she survives by forming friendships with other teens she would otherwise never have met. United by fear, loss, and a need not just to survive, but to live as free beings, this group of teens bands together to form the Blue Musketeers and take on the apocalypse.

Yes, at times the Blue Musketeers were downright cheesy and idealistic, but sometimes a bit of idealism is all that rests between hope and giving up. I loved this group of friends. I loved knowing that most of this group would never have been friends even if they had met prior to the Spires rising from the ground, but that an event meant to divide and conquer could instead unite these young leaders with a cause. Watching people build unexpected relationships strengthened me as a reader, and these characters in their story–it gave them something to be happy about. Höst provides us with diversity (racial, sexual, identity, etc.) in the right way–it’s there because it exists in the real world. The diversity also helps to show us how it is possible to come through the experiences we face in And All the Stars.

And oh those experiences. Twists? This book has them. Höst managed to completely surprise me multiple times in quick succession. This is what I love about a well-done limited perspective narrative–we really don’t see it coming if they don’t see it coming. It’s also one of those rare stories where I love the side characters even more than those featured. Noi, who hides her pain so well and can set her mind to planning anything, Lee who can crack a joke or deliver a stirring monologue on queue, Emily who wants so badly to be a part of something–they’re all wonderful. But of course, the story couldn’t have been really told from any perspective but Maddie’s. Maddie who sees the world through an artist’s eye and is willing to open her heart in a time of chaos.

At times, emotional dialog seemed to be written rather than natural…but then upon finishing I also felt this made sense for the characters involved. Höst includes an epilogue flash forward, which I felt was unnecessary (I am one of those sick people who likes open endings), but I also feel it will satisfy many readers to know how things turn out down the road.

I laughed, I teared up, I got very angry, I fist pumped, and I even slow clapped un-ironically, and at the end of the day there isn’t much more you can ask for from a book.

Original review posted at Bunbury in the Stacks.
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Reading Progress

12/10/2012 page 1
0.0% "Starting for my read along with @ivybookbindings Yay!"
12/13/2012
80.0% "Gah! I love a book that can completely surprise me multiple times in quick succession."
12/14/2012
89.0% "Cue the slow clap."

Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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Keertana Yay! What do you think of it so far? I love the concept so much! Plus, the cover fits SO perfectly...for once! :) I thought the first two/three chapters were a little confusing, but the world-building is improving and I'm definitely very curious to see how it progresses!


Heidi I'm really liking the concept as well! Honestly, I love books that just throw you into situations where you have no idea wtf is going on, which this one did. It's a great way to assure that I'm going to be drawn into a story. I also love books where I've read a fair amount of reviews, but still really have no idea what to expect, which certainly covers this one!

I'm liking Madeleine, and can we just give a resounding huzzah for having a cover model that is almost the exact description of the girl in the book? (view spoiler) I haven't read a lot of YA books about art, largely this brings another Aussie book, Graffiti Moon to mind, and as with that one I find the artist's mind fascinating. I've never really understood art or artists (I like functional art rather than paintings really), but my boyfriend is an artist, so in a weird way characters like this help me get it.

Some of the time the pacing feels a bit slow, but then that pace also seems really fitting to the given situation and what these characters would really be experiencing. (view spoiler)

I'm wondering how/if Madeleine will differ from other (view spoiler)

I always like apocalyptic books, especially when they acknowledge how these things happen over time, and aren't just a massive event. Some weird part of me doesn't even want an explanation because I like the mystery so much, but hopefully we'll get there.


Keertana Heidi, I'm so sorry for my late reply! I finished reading last night and promptly went to bed instead of replying to this! :/ Anyway, I agree with your sentiments completely! I love artists who are MCs, most because, like you, I can't quite understand it. I like paintings, but I don't see the inner beauty in them like artists do and although my best friend, an artist herself, has tried explaining it to me so many times, it never works as well as characters like these do.

I agree! (view spoiler)

I think that's going to be explored a bit more now. We already got a glimpse of it in yesterday's reading and (view spoiler)

I'm loving the mystery aspect of this too, but I like knowing that every page is getting closer and closer to some kind of believable explanation, even if it has some gaping holes in it. I like the world-building concerning the Blues and the Greens though, especially how they've been distinguished and given different abilities and what-not. I'm looking forward to learning more about the Spire and (view spoiler)


Heidi No worries! I took a bit of a nap when I got home today, so who's to say if I actually get the reading for today done tonight (I probably will, but may not be able to comment till tomorrow).

But yes! I love that this has been so great at flushing out characters despite it being an apocalyptic sci fi novel, I really love when that sort of thing happens unexpectedly. Did you read This Is Not a Test this year? It excels at that as well.

I'm loving the focus on friendship here and honestly don't really care if there's a romance at all. I do like that (view spoiler)

Okay--off to read!


Keertana I read up to Chapter 14, which was at the 62% mark since the previous chapter ended off at the 57% mark and I was too curious to stop reading! ;) I feel as if the characters keep getting more and more depth, which I'm loving. I love the tight-knit group this group of friends has become! :) I did read This is Not a Test and it was brilliant! I agree - it did an excellent job with that! I really need to check out more of Courtney Summers's work...

I absolutely agree! (view spoiler)

Happy reading tonight, Heidi! :)


Belle Re: the looting, I think it was implied when Madeleine and Noi went "shopping" - the way Madeleine described the shops made it sound like they'd already been looted?

I've been wondering about how the TV, internet, electricity and water are still working fine too (I'm about halfway through).


Heidi Yes, Belle, you're right about the looting. When I first mentioned my surprise at the lack of it, it was before Noi and Madeleine had really gone anywhere outside of Finger's Warf. They do mention that they'll likely loose TV/electricity etc at some point but what they don't mention is that (view spoiler)

Keertana--I stopped in the same place! Also I'm with you on the needing to read more Courtney Summers...

Yes! (view spoiler)

Note: Noi is my FAVORITE. I like her better than Maddie, but I'm also glad that we get to see her from the outside and that she isn't the main character...I know she's much more messed up in her head than she lets on.

So I'm not surprised that (view spoiler)

Ah!! So excited to see where this is going to go next (view spoiler)


Keertana Heidi, I'm going to read today's chapters later tonight, so I don't think I'll get a chance to comment on them until tomorrow! Sorry! :/

On the book though, (view spoiler)

Also, I just LOVE Noi! I really want to get a little more of her back story since I find her so intriguing, so I'm hoping we get a little more of that. I reallly like Maddie as a narrator though, so I wouldn't switch her with Noi either. Somehow, I think Maddie's narration is more coherent and flowing than Noi's would probably be, especially as her own personal issues would detract from the action and make this more contemporary than apocalyptic I think.

LOL! (view spoiler) I reallyyy need to get to today's chapters! SO excited to see what happens! (view spoiler)


Heidi GAH!! I can't WAIT for you to read today's chapters! We'll talk about them tomorrow. I actually stopped in the middle of a chapter because there was a break at 80%. Full of awesomeness though, i can't wait to finish this tomorrow night!


Belle Heidi wrote: "Yes, Belle, you're right about the looting. When I first mentioned my surprise at the lack of it, it was before Noi and Madeleine had really gone anywhere outside of Finger's Warf. They do mentio..."

Sorry! I hope I didn't spoil anything for you.

I didn't even think of that re: electricity but that's such a good point! I love Noi too. And you're so right about the American factor :)


Keertana HEIDI! IT WAS AMAZING! Unlike you, I didn't have the self-restraint to stop at 80%, write you a quick response, and then continue, so I finished the novel and simply LOVED it! (view spoiler)

On terms of the action, I loved that nothing was rushed. It was all so edge-of-your-seat, fist-pumping, which was fantastic! Not to mention the growth of the characters and their realistic reactions to the fact that (view spoiler)

Yeah...I really, really, REALLY liked this one in the end! It started out a little slow for me, but once I was in, I was IN. Have you read anything else by this author? I'm so curious to check out some of her other novels now! :D


Keertana HEIDI! IT WAS AMAZING! Unlike you, I didn't have the self-restraint to stop at 80%, write you a quick response, and then continue, so I finished the novel and simply LOVED it! (view spoiler)

On terms of the action, I loved that nothing was rushed. It was all so edge-of-your-seat, fist-pumping, which was fantastic! Not to mention the growth of the characters and their realistic reactions to the fact that (view spoiler)

Yeah...I really, really, REALLY liked this one in the end! It started out a little slow for me, but once I was in, I was IN. Have you read anything else by this author? I'm so curious to check out some of her other novels now! :D


Heidi YAY! (view spoiler)

I'm seriously SO happy that I read this one. I haven't read anything else of Andrea's yet, but you can bet I will be soon. I have Stray, and I'll probably be buying the other two in the Touchstone trilogy.

I'm so happy you and I read this one together so that I wasn't alone when THINGS happened! Glad this was a complete win for both of us. =D


message 14: by Li (new) - rated it 4 stars

Li Kind of butting in here, but wanted to say I've been secretly following your discussion and loving all your commentary! Also the liberal use of spoiler tags ;)


Keertana Heidi, I'm so glad we read this together too! We always pick such great discussion books for our read-alongs, so I love that! :) Not to mention I desperately need to pick up Host's other novels too - if they're anything like this one, I WANT! (view spoiler)

On other news...Son of the Shadows just arrived on my doorstep! JUST NOW! :D I thought for sure it had been lost in the mail since it took forever to come, but IT'S HERE! :) I can't WAIT to start it now, so I'll keep you updated on that for sure! ;)


message 16: by Estara (last edited Dec 16, 2012 09:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Estara Keertana wrote: "Have you read anything else by this author? I'm so curious to check out some of her other novels now! :D

Dropping in here as well. Yay for more people liking Andrea Höst ^^ - this is my second most favourite of her books and I've read all of the published ones now.

Since you liked the contemporary culture references especially, can I recommend the YA portal science fantasy The Touchstone Trilogy to you? Cassandra is also an Aussie teen, but her story takes her to a different world and there are three volumes that explore her adventure (and if you liked it there's a free 150 page HEA Gratuitous Epilogue that the author wrote as well ^^). Sherwood Smith enjoyed the trilogy a lot, too.

As you can see, I'm an Evangelist. Andrea Höst was my personal biggest author discovery this year (after having read a book review at the Booksmugglers - Champion of the Rose).

And like Li, can I just say that I loved this discussion!


Heidi So I spent like 10 minutes writing out nice thoughtful responses to all of you, but due to Goodreads new absolutely horrid need to log me in with Facebook despite my not wanting to have the two accounts linked whatsoever, I lost it. =(

I'll try again when I get home from work.


Estara Aww - you have my sympathy. That has happened for me with some really long reviews I wrote - fortunately not too often. So disheartening.


Keertana It happens to me all the time, Heidi, so no worries. Although, really, GoodReads should get it fixed... =.=


Heidi Seriously! I went and removed any connection between Goodreads and my Facebook account, so hopefully it won't happen again.

ANYWAY...:P

Estara and Li--I LOVE people dropping in on these conversations, it's a big part of the reason we do them on Goodreads, so that anyone else who likes can comment/follow along.

I DO already have Stray, which I will hopefully be reading soon. Immediately after finishing this I almost bought the other two books in the Touchstone trilogy, but decided to make myself hold off until after Christmas (because I'm trying to be good and not buy stuff for myself right now).

Belle--No worries! You didn't spoil anything for me at all. Did you get a chance to finish this one yet? I'd love to hear how you ended up liking it!

Keertana--YES! The themes that this shares with Doctor Who (which is my absolute favorite show) are a large part of the reason I enjoyed it so much. It's funny to me that I don't read much SciFi and skew towards fantasy, but that my TV/movie preferences are opposite.

I'm SO EXCITED that you FINALLY got SotS!! I can't wait to see what you think of it. Feel free to tweet at me when you inevitably need to gush about bits. Or I'll just be stalking your status updates on Goodreads. :P


Keertana I actually don't have too many status updates on GoodReads - I probably should - but I'll definitely tweet you constantly as I read! ;) (view spoiler) I also started Brides of Rollrock Island today morning and it is SO GOOD! Seriously, the next time I take so long to read a book that comes with such a high recommendation from you, feel free to hit me on the head with a hammer - repeatedly - until I pick it up! ;)

I had no idea you watched Doctor Who, but YAY! Whovians Unite! ;) I actually don't read too much sci-fi either, although I probably should, but I think Doctor Who just makes me set crazy high expectations of alien/time-travel novels and the majority of them fall short, this novel excluded (thankfully!). Anyway, I'll definitely be keeping you updated on SotS and BoRI, which I miiiight find the time to finish today, tomorrow at the latest. I literally can't put it down, so I'll have to get back to SotS very soon as well. I just love that feeling of reading two great books at once! :)


Belle Heidi wrote: "Seriously! I went and removed any connection between Goodreads and my Facebook account, so hopefully it won't happen again.

ANYWAY...:P

Estara and Li--I LOVE people dropping in on these conversat..."


I did! I really liked it! That twist, OMG! I'll be updating my review soon :)


Wendy Darling Ooo. I have to write my review too, but I am anxious to come see what you thought of it. 4 stars, hooray!


message 24: by Estara (last edited Jan 18, 2013 02:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Estara Belle wrote: "I did! I really liked it! That twist, OMG! I'll be updating my review soon :)
"


Wohoo! And yay for more detailed reviews. It's the only way we can get the word out to the interested parties ^^

ETA: What a great review. You articulate the highlights ever so much more coherently ^^


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