A Kirkus Best Book of 2015; A Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2015; A Kirkus Best International Teen Book of 2015 Shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards; Aurealis Awards; Davitt Awards; Forward INDIES Book of the Year Awards Notable Book for Older Readers, CBCA Book of the Year Awards Longlisted, 2015 Gold Inky Award
“It’s going to happen,” she would tell me calmly. “I even know when. It’s a twist in my stars. It’s written there, and we have to accept it.”
Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked.
Now she is missing.
The police are called, but they’re not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid.
But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery.
And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware of how far she is placing her own life in danger.
Pulse-racing and terrifyingly real, The Astrologer's Daughter will test your belief in destiny and the endurance of love.
Rebecca Lim is an award-winning Australian writer, illustrator and editor and the author of over twenty books, including Tiger Daughter (a CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers and Victorian Premier’s Literary Award-winner), The Astrologer’s Daughter (A Kirkus Best Book and CBCA Notable Book) and the bestselling Mercy. Her work has been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Queensland Literary Awards, Margaret and Colin Roderick Literary Award and Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, shortlisted multiple times for the Aurealis Awards and Davitt Awards, and longlisted for the Gold Inky Award and the David Gemmell Legend Award. Her novels have been translated into German, French, Turkish, Portuguese, Polish and Russian. She is a co-founder of the Voices from the Intersection initiative and co-editor of Meet Me at the Intersection, a groundbreaking anthology of YA #OwnVoice memoir, poetry and fiction.
The Astrologer's Daughter was a fictional response to some terrible stories involving violent crimes against women that were emerging in the press around the time I was writing. The "real world" news is a potent trigger for book ideas. What people do to each other in real life is staggering.
I wrote the novel in memory of two young women, 18 and 20, who went hitch hiking up the east coast of Australia in the early 1970s and were repeatedly violated, tortured and bashed for hours before being tied up and left to die - in the open - of their grievous injuries. Their bones - still bound together - were found two years after they went missing. Legend has it that seven men were involved: none of whom were ever charged and four of whom have since died. Over forty years later, the families of those two women have not had closure or justice. And they will take their pain, grief, loss, rage and despair to their graves. I will never stop feeling sickened and saddened and outraged by cases like these.
Every female life matters.
And so this book - and every book I write for young adults - is for all the girls and women who are violated and murdered in the fields or streets of India, the girls and women who go about their day in places like Mexico and Pakistan, England and Thailand and America and never return, who are trafficked across borders or abused or killed by their spouses, their exes or complete strangers, simply because they were female, and they were there. They were not valued.
You are part of our collective sorrow. And we remember you, if only in fiction. And we mourn you.
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Text Publishing and NetGalley.)
I really have to get this off my chest – I wish that books with non-endings had a warning on them, so that I wouldn’t read them, because I am forever going to be wondering what the heck actually happened in this stupid book. Ugh.
This was a YA mystery story, in which the mystery wasn’t solved. Can you tell that that has annoyed me?
So, Avicenna’s mother has gone missing, and she’s pretty upset and worried which you can understand seeing as how her mother is the only family she has. The police get involved, there are several theories as to what might have happened, but the pace was is slow that nothing seems to be getting solved at all.
Anyway, after slogging through over 300 pages, do we find out where her mother went? Did we find out why her mother disappeared? Do we find out what Avicenna will do Am I annoyed about this?
1. I'm usually made of stone when reading books but this book made me tear up. TWICE. 2. I'm still amazed. 3. But really, this book is vastly different from a lot of other YA churned out simply by virtue of its protagonist. 4. Now I know we've heard intersectionality bandied around lots but there may be some people who don't know what it means. Wiki has handily defined it as: "the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage." 5. Which more or less is correct. 6. The reason I mention this is because Avicenna...as I think of a correct word to put here... it is 2 am so you'll have to excuse me...brings intersectionality to the forefront simply by being who she is. She's of mixed heritage (mom's white Australian while dad's Chinese Australian), poor, female, visibly scarred (cheeks plus a melted ear). All these things make her one of the most interesting people I have read about in the longest while especially in a YA novel. 7. We meet her as she sits frozen in a dump of an apartment (hers now) wondering whether she should call the police now that her mother has been missing 24 hours. 8. Her despair is so real that I had goosebumps. 9. Her mother's an astrologer but before you start scoffing, it's kinda scientific and Lim must have done a LOT of research because everything sounds logical and the narrative seamlessly incorporates the research so that we're given the details in a readily believable tone and not something that sounds like a wiki entry. Ya know? 10. But this is largely slice of life so the emphasis is placed on the missing mom and the procedures involved in you know finding out what's happened. There's a boy. 11. Of course there's a boy and initially he's a jerk. I mean, his name is Simon Thorn. Even his name labels him a jerk. 12. But he kinda breaks your heart. 13. And I mean smooshes it to pieces. 14. Like is that a fragment of my heart under the chair. Oh yes, it is. Ouch. 15. And there's another boy. He's beautiful. We all agree. But there's no room for love triangles and we all understand that. (I really liked the way Cenna thought about this. I'm a Cenna fan!) 16. The Astrologer's Daughter could have been many things but it thankfully is a gripping tale about mothers, daughters, decades old murder and the search for truth. 17. It is also a coming of age story and is kinda brutal on the emotional scale. 18. There are thrills and old Chinese men and restaurants and murderous privileged white men. As par for the course. 19. The book is slim but it packed such a punch that I'm still reeling. 20. This is one of the strongest YA novels I've read--and totally a crossover read in case you are hesitant. 21. Because, damn. 22. Read this. You won't regret it. 23. Just be prepared, kay?
I've spent five minutes looking at synonyms for 'surreal' but none of them quite fit this novel - 'whimsical' is too flippant and 'absurd' doesn't sound complimentary and 'dreamlike' belies the sinister aspects. The Astrologer's Daughter leans towards the incredible and the extraordinary without ever stepping right over into paranormal. There are parts of it that feel not-quite-realistic. The astrology is detailed and authentic (or at least authentic-sounding - I wouldn't be able to tell). Joanna, for a character that never actually appears, is utterly fascinating. There is a surreal aspect to this novel but it is still very much cemented in our reality: the city of Melbourne is a beautifully evoked setting, drawn with much affection.
It is not quite like any other YA novel I have read, a fabulous mash-up of genres. The plot is beautifully constructed but not at the expense of character development. There is resolution but there also isn't resolution. I thought it was leading towards something but then it ended in another way entirely - it ends in very thrilling fashion, all the same. I think if you are looking for a novel that is refreshingly different - complex and curious and a bit not-of-this-world - this is maybe the novel for you. I really enjoyed it.
A copy of this novel was provided by Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This is pretty much going to be a timeline of my relationship with The Astrologer's Daughter. In an effort to bring some enthusiasm and Chiara-ness back into my reviews (sadly I have been feeling very UNenthused about my reviews as of late - BOO), I am spicing this one up a little. YAAAAAAAY.
I saw the cover on Twitter, as a fellow Australian blogger had received a copy for review. I wanted it. Desperately. I thought that the girl had demon eyes a la Supernatural, and I was SO KEEN for a girl with demon eyes. YUS PUHLEASE.
A few days later, The Astrologer's Daughter was in my mailbox. Turns out the girl doesn't have demon eyes, but the cover is suprememy gorgeous nonetheless. AND I GOTS THE BOOK. YAAAAY.
I started reading it almost straight away, because that cover, that synopsis. I was a goner. I kept looking at it, and wanting to read it. And, as per my usual lack of any self control when it comes to reading self, I caved.
I fell in love with the writing straight away. Lim has a completely unique writing style that is engaging and personal and it really just draws you in. I wanted to keep reading and keep reading and keep reading. That is always an indication of amazing writing (at least for me).
I adored the fact that it was set in Melbourne city. I love that kind of familiarity. It's amazing. Whenever I recognised a street name I was pretty much just like:
I loved Avicenna herself. She's lost her mum, she's only eighteen. She's scared and alone. And completely crazy in the most adorable way. I was laughing with her, I was (almost, because you know I am cold hearted) crying with her. I felt everything she was going through because Lim wrote it that way.
And then along came Simon.
Simon is sassy and sweet and caring but doesn't take any self pity shit. He is AMAZING and just asdfghjkl I wanted more more more of Simon page time because he was such an intricate character and there were so many sides to him, and so much left unsaid about him. I just pretty much want an entire book about this boy. He is divine.
There were heaps of other amazing things about this book. The characters were amazing and vivid, the astrology aspects were intensely researched and in depth, and the mystery was, well, incredibly mysterious. I was always wondering what had happened.
The ending was vague, and open, and just really left me wanting a sequel. I want a sequel, I NEED a sequel. I need to know what happens. I need more Simon. I need more astrology cases. I need to know if everything turns out all right. I JUST REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT A SEQUEL, OKAY?
This is one of those books that I've seen around for the past couple of years, probably because it was on the long list for the CBCA awards in 2015. And for some reason, despite a whole bunch of people telling me that it was great, it's always been one of those books that I just looked at the cover and went "........eh."
But anyway. I finally picked it up and read it. And...it was pretty solid. The gist of the story is that 18 year old Avicenna's mother, an astrologer, has disappeared. It's suspected that it had something to do with one of her clients. Avicenna has inherited her mother's talent for astrology, and so ends up helping the police investigate.
I liked Avicenna as a character. She's biracial and has scars on her face from a house fire when she was a kid. She's legally an adult but has literally no idea what she's doing most of the time (girl, same). She has these abilities but doesn't really want to use them. I felt for her and there were moments where I was terrified for her, so the tension in the story was definitely good.
Really, I think the problem here was the pacing and the balance between the various subplots. I know that the point of all the going-to-school type stuff was to create a reason for Simon to be involved in the story, but it just seemed...pointless? I didn't care if she was going to get the scholarship. I didn't care if she was going to get her assignment done. I just wanted to know what the heck had happened to her mother.
Add in the abrupt ending that provided one answer when I wanted a thousand (which, thankfully, one of my students had warned me about) and it balanced out to decent but not as great as various colleagues have told me it is over the past couple of years.
Rebecca Lim, author of the popular Mercy series, has written a thrilling contemporary mystery with coming-of-age elements and a hint of the paranormal. Avicenna Crowe will always stick out in a crowd. She's half Chinese with a large chest and a burn scar that covers half of her face and one of her ears. Mostly she's a regular (smart) high school student. Her mom, the astrologer, is the special one.
And then her mom goes missing.
Avicenna is thrown by the loss of her remaining parent. (Her father died in the fire that scarred her.) She's just eighteen, so basically stuck to fend for herself. Strangely, there's thousands more in their band account than there should be. There are also three clients left unfinished who want Avicenna to do their horary reading when they learn she knows how. And Avicenna knows not to leave business unfinished, although these might be the very answers that got her mother into trouble. Meanwhile, Simon Thorn is a thorn in her side about that school project they have to complete.
Lim writes beautifully. She brings this pocket of Australia and the outsized characters who inhabit it to life. I particularly like the sympathetic policeman who tries to keep Avicenna on an even keel and make sure that she's all right, beyond keeping her informed about the ongoing investigation. I liked Avicenna herself, who seems like a mostly practical girl who is still too young to totally handle the convoluted mess she's landed in.
I'm not into New Age stuff at all, but I like how the horoscopes were handle. It's just something Avicenna knows how to do, and her family has a knack for it. It's treated more as something dangerous to live your live by than a good idea.
The ending is a bit messy, and a few threads are left unfinished. I'm not sure if Lim intends to write more about these characters, but I could see it being a series. As is, it is a wonderfully emotional mystery that shows the strange ways people can be tied together.
I used to work in a bookstore...it was the best job I ever had...I was surrounded by the things I loved the most, i never had a dull day, people asking if this is where they actually print books to some people being so surprised that this was what a book store looked like, while others were more than happy to grab a book and a beverage of sorts and dive straight into the pages of a book they'd chosen.
Books, so many pretty, beautiful books lined the shelves, they were stacked high on tables, laying haphazardly and flipped open, left abandoned by someone's distraction or waiting patiently for its human to return.
One such day, I had been filling the YA section at the front of the store -visual merchandising being my strong point- I was crouched amongst a pile of books waiting to be shelved when I came across mercy. The blue cover reflecting the late afternoon sunlight. I read the blurb and the first page. I knew that I had to get this book.
So imagine my disappointment the next day when I had finished it that it was to be a series...thus began one of the greatest sagas in my life.
Much like Avicennas mother believes that people come into your life for a reason, I believe the same about books, what began as an interesting book to read became an obsession as I devoured mercy, exile, muse and fury. So imagine my heartbreak when there was nothing left of this phenomenonal authors work for me to read.
Then, a few months ago, while I was in the middle of chuck palahnuiks haunted (I read guts and didn't pass out!) I found out that there was to be a new book of Rebecca's arriving soon.
There are no words for how excited I was. The minute dymocks opened, i had my copy in my hands.
Fast forward a few days later, and I was in the middle of one if the most unique YA books I had ever read...this book is just amazing! Every character is so rounded and developed. I love Avicenna so much. She is so completely different to every other female in YA. She's strong, she's not consumed by boys and love, she's unapologetically smart and sassy! But what really sealed it for me was how comfortable she was with her sexuality. There is a scene towards the end if the book when she talks about wanting a guy, not going all 50 shades, but believeable enough to understand its a teenage girl talking. The reason I loved that scene so much is because it feels like there are female characters in this genre who are all girly about boys and they want love and romance and marriage, like its expected that the young women reading this book should want the same thing, that even female writers are using society to condition young girls into believing they can't be sexual beings. Yet here is Avicenna like, "fuck it, you're hot, i want you". Maybe I read a little too into that and if I did, that'd how I interpreted it and I liked it.
The love interest. You never get the feeling that boys are anything avicenna is really interested in, and this is proved when he mum does go missing, while a lot of female characters would play the victim and wait for the man to do all the work, avicenna is the complete opposite, yes, she does find men attractive bit it never becomes a distraction from the main goal of finding her mum, she never runs to men for help, with the exception of the police because they're...well, police. Even when she is barricaded in her bathroom and as a reader you're screaming at her that this is a time where she should actually call the cops, she does everything and gets things done all by herself. And thats,quite frankly, fucking awesome!
And sassy! I fucking loved it...it felt like it was every reaction I'd have.
Now, the meaty part. The story. Oh my god! It's brilliant. Its just just keeps you turning the page, even if you haven't finished the last sentence yet. I assumed in the end her mother died, or was never found, and it leaves open an ending for the start of another book if it was to become a series. But it was just leaves you wondering, which is how it feels for people with loved ones who have just disappeared... There is no finite ending, a person has gone missing and you need to tie up all the loose strings yourself. It had perfect pacing, though I felt I needed the killers fleshed out more, i got myself confused.
There is a character called Don, and another book this thing does is it reinforces the idea of trusting yourself and your gut instincts, and as avicenna has never had a good feeling about this guy, it's a feeling that proves right. If you feel you're in danger or something feels off, it's always best to listen to that, it's almost always right.
The ending is perfection. The narcissistic prick that never understood the word no, gets royally fucked up which is brilliant, yeah he could've died, but by ruining the one thing he pinned his identity on was pure genius..
This is an amazing, beautiful, wonderfully written and magical book. Rebecca is such a fantastic writer, and frankly, I'd read her grocery list.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I don't usually read mystery/crime thriller books, just because I am more of a fantasy type of gal. But I loved the cover and the premise of a story weaved with astrology intrigued me, so I requested a copy. I'm glad I did, because I ended up really liking this book. The astrology was obviously very well researched and felt authentic, and while there was a couple times where the description of reading ones horary caused my eyes to glaze over a bit, for the most part the astrology explanations were easy to follow.
There was definitely a lot of mystery going on here, at first with Avicenna's mother going missing, but then with all these other mysteries she left behind about not just her self, but also some of her last clients. There were a few different side plots going on here, but Lim did a good job weaving them all together in the end and I never got lost or found it confusing.
One thing that really pulled me in to this novel was the tone. It's been years since I read Wake by Lisa McMann, but something about the tone of the novel and the romance reminded me of Wake. And I loved Wake. It dark and gritty and suspenseful, and I really enjoyed that.
Avicenna is strong, stubborn, and smart, but over the course of the book she start's to realize that she was wrong and that she doesn't really know everything. She was in a fire when she was a child, and that left her side of her face and her ear badly scarred. Years of moving around and always being both the new kid and deformed has caused her to build up a shell around her self and she tends to keep people at arms length. She does do a lot of crying in this book, which seems to be out of character based on everything else we know about her, but her mom is missing so I can forgive her that.
At first Simon comes off as a jerk, Avicenna's enemy and sole competition for her schools $10,000 prize given to the top of the class at the end of their last year. But, as we get to know him, we see that not everything with him is what it seems, and that he doesn't actually have the perfect life. I loved Simon, I loved Simon and Avicenna. He's sweet and smart and even though they aren't friends, and they are each others biggest competition, he always ends up being the one there for her throughout the ordeal.
I also really enjoyed Wurbik and Boon. Both were unexpectedly kind and fatherly towards Avicenna, and did what they could to help and protect her. And both you could tell actually cared about her and her well being.
I really enjoyed this book, more than I was expecting to, and the ending left it open enough that there could be a sequel while leaving it tied off enough to satisfy even if there isn't. But I really hope there is a sequel.
Just finished this novel and I feel compelled to say something while it's fresh. The world Lim creates is dark, suspenseful and mysterious. The complex tangle of murder and grief is richly drawn and the characters who populate this story leap from the page. I was both fascinated by them and, at times, appalled, for all the right reasons. I couldn't put this book down although I was torn between rushing to the end to find out what happened to Avicenna's mum, and wanting to savour every spine tingling page. I was totally sucked in by the dark and seedy Melbourne underbelly, the eerie "gift" Avicenna shares with her mum, and by Avicenna herself, who is unexpectedly heartbreaking and sassy, naive and wise.
Avicenna and The Astrologer's Daughter will stay with me for a long time to come.
With its lyrical writing and quirky characters, The Astrologer's Daughter is one of the most moving books I've read in a while. It's a beautiful story about identity, secrets, and love, and I have enjoyed it a lot.
Avicenna's mother is an astrologer. Not a psychic, and definitely not a fraud, but a true astrologer who works out the charts of her clients and then tells them what they've come to hear (or not hear, as the case may be). She's kind-hearted and sympathetic, and from the very first sentence of this book, missing.
I think the best way to describe this story is real. Lim holds nothing back, and readers are taken with Avicenna on an emotional journey as she reports her mother missing, is harassed by her mother's more ardent clients, and begins to piece together clues that tie her mother's disappearance to an unsolved cold case. I was gripped by the writing style and Avicenna's voice from the first page.
Avicenna is an outcast: she's moved around a lot and won't discuss her past, she has a Chinese father she barely remembers and looks like an outsider, and she has burn scars on her face that further ostracize her. Teenagers are cruel - actually, the world is cruel, and Avicenna cops more of it than is fair.
I love that Lim doesn't shy away from the realities of being born in Australia but looking so obviously not-white. So so so many books in YA just have characters who are half-white and half-'exotic' (*vomit*) just to fulfil some horrifying diversity quota, and then don't actually explore the feeling of displacement: of belonging in two cultures and in neither at the same time, of the prejudices and racism that still affects people today. But The Astrologer's Daughter explores it all: the people who yell Chink-lover at Avicenna's mother, the strangers who use their fingers to make their eyes 'slanted', the boy who wants Avicenna to cover up her burns so that he won't have to look at them.
One of my favourite characters in this book is the Missing Person's police officer who becomes Avicenna's liaison on the case. This, refreshingly, isn't a story of a teenager taking a huger missing persons (or homicide) case all on their own. She works with the police and they support her in very way they can, which I loved. It doesn't rob Avicenna of her agency but rather makes the story more believable. Plus it was great to see how the adults around her banded together to help her out.
Combined cleverly with all that is real and raw about this world is the undercurrent of magic in this narrative: the astrology. Although technically not magic, there's no denying this book focusses on both the mystical and mathematical aspects of astrology. It works in the story like a magic system: there are clearly defined rules and the protagonist uses it to solve her mystery.
I've never read a story like The Astrologer's Daughter and I don't think I'm going to any time soon. It's a uniquely magical and evocative book, one I recommend to everyone.
The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim was not the book I expected it to be. This is partly because I intentionally try to forget blurbs for ARCs after I decide to read them and partly because I didn't really have a clear idea of what to expect anyway, and also that purple cover.
I probably would have been less surprised by the book if I'd read the blurb, but on the other hand, the blurb is not entirely accurate either. Avicenna's mother disappears and the story opens with her calling the police. Most of the book is about her dealing — emotionally and practically — with her mother's disappearance. A few other things happen along the way, albeit mostly as a consequence of being left motherless.
The police in this book were helpful and did all the right things. I liked that they weren't just another set of antagonists and that Avicenna set up a rapport with her main liaison and came to think of him as a bit of a father figure. While Avicenna makes a few poor decisions, they're mostly of the not wanting to answer her phone variety, which was understandable and much less frustrating to read about than some YA protagonists.
Interestingly this book did not exclusively contain YA issues. Avicenna does have to deal with losing her mum at a young age but she also gets caught up in her mother's unfinished business, including a twenty-year-old unsolved rape and murder. Her sort-of friend, Simon, also has to deal with some pretty heavy issues, which I won't elaborate on because spoilers. It was a book that sucked me in straight away and one that I didn't want to put down, but it wasn't a fun book. That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading it, but it's not a book I'd recommend for some light escapist reading. Just saying.
Also, it's set in Melbourne with Avicenna and friends in year 12 at a thinly-disguised well-known high school. She lives in Chinatown and the descriptions of the CBD were excellent. As someone who's spent most of their life living in Melbourne (albeit not in the CBD), I found it really easy to visualise exactly where she went, even when the precise place (like her home) was fictional. On a related note, it also brought up some racial issues in passing, which lent authenticity to the book from my perspective although I suspect some nuances might be lost on international readers not familiar with Australia's migrant history.
I really enjoyed The Astrologer's Daughter. It grabbed me even though I didn't realise I was in the mood for that sort of book. It's a nice mix of crime and contemporary fantasy and pretty light on the fantasy front (only the astrology, really). In many ways, I found myself thinking of it as a stealth crime novel. Avicenna doesn't set out to solve any crimes, only to deal with her own life problems, but the solutions find her anyway.
I highly recommend The Astrologer's Daughter to fans of YA of the contemporary, speculative and/or crime genres. It was a gripping book and certainly my favourite of Lim's that I've read.
I went into this without any real expectations and found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Keeping an open mind was really important: although astrology plays a significant part in the narrative, you don't have to believe in it yourself to hope that Avicenna finds her mother (through whatever works), or connect emotionally with Simon. The characters are likable enough, though I do wish they were a little more developed. By which I mean they all had complex backstories, but I didn't get as strong of an impression of their distinct personalities and motives (beyond the obvious). It's not that they're flat or unrelatable, but personally I didn't find them very memorable apart from Avicenna's name.
One thing that threw me off a little bit is that for some reason I thought this was a historical setting? I don't think there are any misleading contextual details, maybe at this point I just think of mysteries as historical since those are the ones I tend to read ... whatever the reason, the first mention of Words With Friends totally threw me for a loop. (I can't recall now if cars and cell phones are first mentioned before or after that startlingly modern detail, though I suspect it's before and my brain just didn't connect the dots.) But it really wasn't a huge adjustment, and the narrative does fit into the modern setting.
Most of the major developments were ones that I saw coming, but their execution was still suspenseful — my heart was literally pounding when I got to the story's climax — and therefore still satisfying. I really appreciated Avicenna's respect for the authorities; although she does have some of that teenage "I know my mother and her work best, I don't want to fully leave the investigation in their hands" she doesn't immediately decide that they don't stand a chance ... and she does call for backup (whether it's Wurbik, her police "liaison," or her classmate / rival Simon) when she doesn't feel safe or needs someone to talk to, which is a level of maturity many YA protagonists lack.
So although I wouldn't consider this a favorite, it's definitely an engaging read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to those who are interested in mystery and astrology.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
The Astrologer's Daughter is a novel where mysterious elements and fascinating protagonist with an astrologer mother come together to produce something unique, and in some ways chilling. It as if the pieces of the story are drifting in a wide sea before slowly coming back together in order to reveal the truth. The astrological elements were quite interesting to read about, and aside from the main focus of the story there were a few sub-elements which added to its intricately woven nature. I haven't read any of Rebecca Lim's previous works, but after this I think I might give them a try.
As another author described it, this book does have elements of a 'mystery, thriller and love story'. While the budding romance could have potentially taken more of a centre stage, it was good to see that the main plot stayed true to its actual nature. The beautifully named Avicenna is forced to continue her mother's work after her disappearance, and learns more about her family history full of hidden secrets than she bargained for. Although I did find her character quite a complex one with conflicting emotional struggle, I can't say that I connected with her as much as I would have liked. Perhaps it is because I read this at the wrong time, but I do wish that I could empathise with her struggle more. The writing, although simplistic and lyrical didn't resonate with me to its fullest extent, although it did communicate the story in a fashion which made it easy to read.
I do have to say that the twist and ending threw me a bit, but not necessarily in a negative way. Yes, it didn't exactly go as I expected it to, but I felt that the last lines especially were quite fitting. The first and last sentences of a book can be the most special, and it gave me a feeling of completeness where some things had been left open. I suppose not tying up all of those loose ends leaves room to think about what could have been.
In conclusion, I did enjoy The Astrologer's Daughter, even with its few minor faults for me. If you have any interest in astrology or are just looking for a unique mystery story then this one could be for you.
For as long as Avicenna can remember, it has always been her and her mother – a duo. But when her mother goes missing she has to step up on her own and even take charge. The police are involved but they are asking the wrong questions and seem to be getting nowhere with their investigation. What nobody else realizes is the fact that Joanne’s disappearance has something to do with her knowledge and connected to her livelihood somehow. With Simon by her side, Avicenna is finally ready to embrace her gift because she feels that it is the only way she can bring her mother home. But is Avicenna ready to discover the lies and the truth both her mother and her own life? Is she ready to risk her life for her mother’s?
First of all, what an uncommon yet beautiful name – Avicenna! I heard it for the first time and I am in love with the name… Also, occult has always piqued my interest, so it was awesome to read about astrology in a fictional setting.
Avicenna is your normal teenage girl. I had a love – hate relationship with her for most of the book. On one hand I loved her relationship with her mother, enjoyed the romantic confusions in her life and cheered her for doing what was necessary in the time of need. On the other hand I also found her a bit too whiny. But in the end her good qualities stack up higher than the whiny side of her. Simon’s character could have been developed a bit further. But I absolutely loved the character of Joanne even though she was ‘missing’ for most of the book. Joanne’s personality and her relationship with her daughter is the best thing about this book.
The writing style of the author is beautiful – peppered with sarcasm, and the narration is fluid. It was pretty easy to get into the rhythm of the book and get lost in it. The ending leaves you a bit on the edge though… But I would surely love to read more about Avicenna and her exploits. Can we convince the author to turn this standalone into a series?
A great mystery novel, with a terrific narrator. It's written in the first person present tense, not easy to pull off, but combine that with the missing mother storyline and the astral chart business and it all works.
Avicenna is a flawed girl - strong, loud, clever, but also judgemental, vulnerable and when her mother disappears, she's also lost and scared.
Her journey through the next few weeks is a great mystery story, a terrific coming-of-age story and a touching love story.
Thank you to netgalley and Text Publishing for a copy of this book. I actually received it over a year ago but I over-requested and have only just gotten around to finally reading it!
To start with, having just finished this book and enjoying it so, so much, I wanted badly to give it 5 stars... but my one grievance is hard to overlook because it's to do with the writing. So let's get this out of the way-- Lim writes in first person, in Cenna's pov, a MC who is constantly on the verge of a breakdown, and as a result the story is told in an almost stream-of-conscious way. I hate stream-of-conscious. It's not pleasant to read in my opinion, it's just annoying, and it's especially annoying when the unreliable narrator is barely present in her reality. Reading The Astrologer's Daughter, as a result, can be confusing at times.
Cenna jumps from thought to thought, not always connecting them, scenes and events whizz by in paragraphs and pages like scenery passing by your window in a bullet train. You get bits and pieces and are expected to put it together as a whole in your head. There were times when I honestly wondered if there was some kind of file error with my ebook and whole passages went missing! Or passages that jumped around so much that I had to reread them once or twice more just to catch on to what the hell was going on. Like I said, stream-of-consciousness is annoying, especially in a story like this one which draws you into its world and characters and mystery and you want to know what's going on.
And that's what makes the writing so, so annoying-- this is a hell of a story. Once you get into the nitty gritty of the mystery you won't want to put it down. I read the whole thing in one sitting today, barely wanting to take a break to refill my mug. The action carries on continually, to the point where I struggled to find a proper place to pause for a minute for a bathroom break lol I was actually reminded of an old series I loved as a teen, Melinda Metz's Fingerprints series (Gifted Touch), but more grown-up and less fantastical.
We really only come to know three characters, Cenna, her mother, and Simon, but Lim did well in making all the other characters feel real and whole, telling the reader just enough about them and revealing surprising depth in only a handful of appearances, leaving me with questions. Leaving me with questions about side characters! To have side characters who are memorable is really a feat, I think.
The mystery itself was satisfyingly resolved and the solve didn't feel unexpected, yet it wasn't obvious from the get-go either. The whole inclusion of astrology wasn't as cheesy as I'd expected it to be, as Cenna is a skeptic. Lim clearly did her research on the subject though and her application of it in solving the mystery was actually really intriguing, and leaves you wondering at this hint of the supernatural without confirming or denying anything. I also appreciate that there was no real romantic story-line, though romance was hinted and Cenna, as a hormonal teenager, beats herself up at time for daring to feel lust and desire when she's experiencing so much tragedy. This is when the writing shines, as Lim really makes Cenna feel so real and true to who she is (presented as).
I want so much for there to be a series now where Cenna solves mysteries with her astrological skills, like Tana French by way of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle if they wrote for The X-Files haha While you won't finish this book completely fulfilled it is complete and could easily remain a standalone, there is also a door there for the start of a series... and I truly hope Lim has more in store for Cenna!
For the longest time it has always been Avicenna and her mother, Joanne. But when Joanne goes missing, Avicenna is lost. She may be eighteen but she doesn’t know what to do without her mum. Joanne is an astrologer and it seems her gift is connected with her disappearance. Her predictions are eerily precise and Avicenna is certain they hold the key to her mother’s whereabouts. If Avicenna is to find her mother and solve the mystery, she will have to use the gift she has always shunned.
The Astrologer’s Daughter is a novel which will stay with me for a long time. Rebecca Lim has one of the most beautiful writing styles I’ve read and I loved following Avicenna as she tried to solve the mystery of her mother. You don’t need to believe or even know a thing about astrology or that which you can not see to be enthralled by The Astrologer’s Daughter. The descriptions of the characters as seen though Avicenna’s eyes are incredible. They are full of Avicenna’s trademark snark and yet perfectly paint a vivid picture of those who she is talking about.
The characters within this book are well-rounded. They are brilliantly flawed with each character having their own baggage and this made them incredibly realistic. Avicenna is somewhat of an outsider with her past shown on her face. She’s not always the most comfortable character to be around but she’s real. Her anguish over her mother is palpable as is her fear of prediction. Avicenna has seen her mother work and knows just how dangerous knowing can be and yet she is willing to face that if it means she can help her mum. I loved their relationship. It’s a unique one considering Joanne is off-screen for most of this novel but she is still a force which is felt in much of what Avicenna does. I also loved that Avicenna was half-Asian. Her racial ancestry is part of who she is and also effected how she saw herself and how others saw her.
The mystery in this book was well crafted and I thought the flow of information was fantastic. As a reader you never quite know what is going to happen (or has happened) but I never felt lost. I was always there with Avicenna as she discovered clues to her past or became aware of what was happening in the present. The fortune-telling aspect of this book was fascinating. Avicenna isn’t what I normally think of when I think of astrology but her predictions don’t feel out of character. She’s methodical and her relationship with her craft is a complicated one.
The Astrologer’s Daughter has been one of my favourite reads of 2014. Beautifully written with a main character who is both snarky and sarcastic but also scared. The mystery was incorporated flawlessly into a coming of age story which I could not put down. If you only read one Australian young adult novel this year – I could not recommend any book higher than The Astrologer’s Daughter. Mystery, romance and a hint of the unknown. What could be better?
A round-up of some of the top reviews for The Astrologer’s Daughter, Rebecca Lim’s disarming, intriguing and wonderfully written novel:
‘Lim (The Astrologer’s Daughter) delivers satisfying action and romance throughout, continually raising the stakes on the way toward a chilling, violent ending.’ Publishers Weekly
‘The Astrologer’s Daughter is compulsively readable. Avicenna is a captivating hero—tough yet vulnerable. This gritty and mysterious love story will stay with me for a long time.’ Cath Crowley
‘Smart and original—a beautifully-written mash-up of mystery, thriller and love story.’ Vikki Wakefield
‘[Lim’s] taut, assured thriller weaves together astrology and mythology, poetry and poverty…Teen and adult readers who like their mysteries gritty and literary, with a touch of magic: seek this one out.’ STARRED Review, Kirkus
‘A compelling read, one that hooked me from the beginning, I was taken straight into the story and felt compelled to complete Avicenna’s story with her. Mesmerised by the way Rebecca Lim wrote the novel. I could not put the book down.’ ReadPlus
‘Lyrical writing and quirky characters, The Astrologer’s Daughter is one of the most moving a books I’ve read…It’s a beautiful story about identity, secrets and love…A uniquely magical and evocative book, one I recommend to everyone.’ Speculating on Spec Fic
The first 50% of this book is pretty darn awesome. The second half? Trainwreck. The Astrologer's Daughter set me up for an awesome mystery, and yeah it's pretty cool, but as soon as the book hit 60% there were ableist slurs, utter bullshit and this line: "The way he's looking at me actually makes me want to cover my body in a burqa" I MEAN???? This girl is Chinese, not any nationality where wearing a burqa is traditional, which makes it NOT OKAY. Cultural appropriation with a side note of potential racism. Plus throw in a use of the word "retarded" for kicks and everything I lived about this book fizzled.
But I'll say some things about what I liked. There's a POC main character. It's a missing person mystery. It's set in Australia, which was a nice change to the US-centric norm. The missing persons guy Wurbick was awesome, and my favourite - he acted like an overprotective father when he was just Avicenna's Liaison. Also - the name Avicenna, pretty cool. Plus, I really REALLY liked the extensive astrology in this book ... until I didn't. After the ninth rambling (an impossible to understand) explanation of planets and words I'd never heard of, it got kinda old and I was skipping pages. My favourite thing is how it could be read as a contemporary mystery or a paranormal mystery depending on your own personal beliefs.
And the things I didn't like: the overuse of technical waffle. I thought the MC was smart in the beginning but she got into cars with strangers and let them into her home, which is so dumb. Plus I expected better so the slurs and disrespect really disappointed me. Was gonna be a four star rating but after this crap, it's seriously dropped.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I don't really know how I feel about this book. It was definitely a different story- one that I know I haven't read anything like before, so that's why I felt so positive about this book. It had a great plot idea, and I love new and interesting ideas in books, so I was really excited to read this.
However, once the book started, I wasn't entirely sure how I was going to feel about it. I didn't feel like the characters had much depth, and that is a problem for me. I could not connect to Avicenna, no matter how hard I tried. She was so damn whiny (yes, I know her mother went missing, but some of the things she said and did in this book were just so damn annoying, I wish SHE had been the one to go missing so I didn't have to deal with her anymore). Simon didn't really have much depth to him either, and that made me sad, because it could have had an interesting romance in there, had the characters been developed a bit differently. The only character I saw myself drawn to was Joanne, Avicenna's mother, and she disappeared at the beginning of the novel.
The whole astrology idea in the book was great. I don't know much about astrology, but it has always fascinated me, so I truly enjoyed that aspect of the book. The character development (or lack thereof) just sort of ruined it for me. As did the ending, which I won't say anything about for risk of spoilers.
I am so confused. There were a number of story lines and I kept forgetting who was who. Most of the decisions Avicenna made seemed random to me, especially regarding Simon and Hugh (he was one character I couldn't remember) I feel like I've just been sucked into a tornado of a book, and spat out holding remnants.
You know when you buy a book and recognize the author's name, but can't remember what else they've written? Totally did that with this book. It was the Mercy series, and I love those books! Unfortunately I just wasn't into this one.
I kind of felt like there was too much going on, and most of the action didn't make much sense in my mind. I honestly wanted to like it but didn't. I still don't understand what happened to the mum? Oh well, I actually have the most enormous to read pile at the moment, so I think I'll just move on to something else!
This book is sort of a genre-bender: part paranormal mystery, part coming-of-age, part thriller. Really liked how raw and ugly and messy Avicenna's reaction to her mother's disappearance was. Also liked the almost romance that was more about two kindred souls having gone through shit and still going through it but finding a friend in the dark. Really liked how Simon's arc was written, how Avi assumed and had the wrong impression of him. Her relationship with Hugh was great. How he could have been Tall, Dark and Handsome but Avi's awareness of it cut that right off, and the thereafter subversion of that. I just really liked how this book dealt with loss.
This book had me reading non-stop, I could not put it down!
Thank you Rebecca Lim I loved it SOOOO much and I really recommend to everyone READ THIS BOOK, it is fantastic and had me crying, laughing, yelling and sleepless with anticipation!
Rebecca Lim’s Mercy Series is lifechanging. Well it changed my life. So is this one. Make a movie about Avicenna, please I want more. Makes me want to study astrology and be an astrologer. I suggest you definitely read it, GREAT Read. More please Rebecca!!!
I basically read this cover to cover today, reluctant to put it down for anything, utterly enthralled. The Astrologer’s Daughter was genre-bending, and captivating, with characters that I didn’t necessarily like, but was invested in. After hearing Rebecca speak about her female characters at Sydney Writer’s Festival, I was really curious to see how they were on paper, and I wasn’t disappointed. Loved it.
4.5 * As a non-native speaker, I really enjoyed being able to get a glimpse of a country and its slang that I usually don't have much contact with. I also loved both Joanne and Avicenna, mother and daughter, two strong female characters bound by love and relying on each other. I'm glad I found this book!