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Last Star Burning #1

Last Star Burning

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Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published October 10, 2017

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About the author

Caitlin Sangster

6 books175 followers
Caitlin Sangster is the author of the Last Star Burning Trilogy, She Who Rides the Storm, and A Baker's Guide to Robber Pie.

She grew up in the back woods of California and would rather go hiking, running, swimming, or general outdoorsing than just about anything else. If there aren’t any mountains, it doesn’t count as a real place. At eighteen, she moved to XinJiang, and at twenty-one it was Taiwan. She did eventually buckle down and graduate from Brigham Young University with a BA in Asian Studies and is now that person you avoid at parties because she'll probably start talking about Shang dynasty oracle bones.

Caitlin has been writing since middle school. She always thought of it as a silly sort of compulsive habit until she realized that people like reading stories and she liked writing them and there wasn’t much silly about that.

She currently lives in Montana with her husband and four children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 207 reviews
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,091 reviews1,508 followers
September 11, 2017
Sev was branded as a traitor and criminal when she was only eight years old, her only crime being her mother's daughter. Sev's mother had betrayed their entire nation and now her body is displayed in a paralyzed half-sleep above Traitor’s Arch for all to see what happens when going against the city. Sev's mother had brought the same plague into their safe zone that now keeps her on display reminding all those of her crimes.

When Sev is out with her only friend who still treats her as if she is still the same girl before being branded a bomb explodes injuring them both. When Sev awakens she finds that the government is putting the blame for the bomb directly upon her so she must either run or stay and possibly be killed for being a traitor.

Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster is the first book in the new Last Star Burning young adult fantasy series. Wonderfully written this series starts off a quick pace building the world and introducing the characters then jumps right into the action that is non-stop from beginning to end. There was never a dull moment following Sev along on her journey and the whole story grabbed me right from the beginning and didn't let go.

Sev is a rather strong character having grown up being told her mother was a traitor and that she must continue to pay for those sins. She's one to skirt the rules and make her own way and when things got tough she got even tougher to be able to handle them. The other characters in the story were also well done all throughout. And the overall story is one to keep you on the edge of your seat so that as soon as you think you have it figured out there is another twist to the story and more action to follow.

In the end I'd definitely recommend checking out this new action packed adventure of a fantasy read and will be impatiently waiting to learn more of these characters and this world in the next installment myself.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....

Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,371 reviews1,835 followers
October 10, 2017
The beginning of LAST STAR BURNING was a lot like trying to start a fire with wet wood; what should come easy is instead a lot of work and leaves you feeling frustrated right at the onset. In keeping with the comparison, the middle did seem to burn, the flames catching and leaving you feeling satisfied and warm, excited and delighted. But the end was more in tune with a bitchy gust of wind.. suddenly there's smoke in your face and you're left feeling a little betrayed, uncertain, and squinty-eyed.

"Everyone gets a fair chance in the Mountain. Wood Rats, City runaways, people from out past this forest.. no stars, no brands, and no one cares who you are or what you look like."

Sangster's debut has an interesting premise that sounds fantasy but isn't really. Instead this is a dystopian novel with sci-fi elements. This is likely one of the reasons why I had such a hard time getting into the story.. I was expecting something else. Also, I felt the beginning in general just didn't work for me. Between resetting my expectations, trying to understand the hierarchy of the caste system (Firsts ruling the roost and attempting to cure a rampant sickness, Seconds serving as armed forces both inside and out, Thirds basically slaves, Fourths being traitors) and how it fit into this concept of this tiny nation cut off from the world, in addition to some kind of plague that basically turned people rabid, and then being in the head of a girl who was once a First and is now a Fourth due to her mother's betrayal to an outside nation they were at war with.. it was just a lot of things. Throw in conspiracy where she's set up as a terrorist, a mysterious boy who knows much and is willing to leave his cushy First life to save her, and an rebel group on the outside that holds both answers and shelter.. it's even more things.

"Whatever happened during the Great Wars, everyone left over just wants to survive. I don't think having light-coloured eyes should take away your right to a good life any more than having the wrong number of lines on your hand should."

It's hard to touch on the plot without going into potentially spoilery events. However, things kind of go in an expected way when it comes to the romance. Sev's been crushing on the best friend, a Second who has still stood by her despite her fall from grace, but the introduction of a boy who represents everything she's learned to distrust, who has secrets (that she never pushes for, ugh), who protects her and sees past the birthmark on her face and the betrayal of her mother, has her letting go of the things that might have been between she and her longtime friend. While the romance(s) are not a huge part of the story, nonetheless they do kind of go in a rather predictable fashion. There's also a SLEEPING BEAUTY element/retelling woven throughout the story.. but not in the way you'd think.

I've had the word 'traitor' chasing after my name since I was eight. Now someone is treating me as though I'm worth something, and I've been ignoring how weird that is.

There were, however, some twists and turns, some plots and conspiracies, that weren't as predictable. There were times when I thought I knew who was pulling strings and why and while some times I was right there were also times I was wrong, and occasionally I was even fooled into thinking I was right about why I was right. The downside to everyone around the main character keeping secrets, lying, omitting information, etc, is that upon the reveals you end up disliking them. But that doesn't suddenly make you root for a protagonist who takes everything lying down and just cracks jokes all the time. I don't even know why she was made to do that or why it was something worth noting or admiring.

I am not my stars, whatever most people believe.

There was a lot of strength to Sangster's novel but sadly I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped. A lot of mystery could have been solved earlier had our heroine cared or pushed enough to ask questions instead of waiting for the information to just fall into her lap when the plot called for it to. And I just felt a lot of scenes to be confusing or unexplained while other parts felt out of place or thrown in for no reason (seriously, the dancing thing, I just don't understand). That being said, this had shades of DIVERGENT and The 100 and even, sorta, Resident Evil but set against an Asian setting and background. I appreciate the diversity, the mishmash of genres with a bit of horror creeping through the sci-fi, but I'll admit I'm only going to be reading on to the second book to find out what's going on with one of the secondary characters and because there's another I fell in love with who does kick ass and does get shit done. I can't exactly call this one a win but it's also not a total loss?

2 "wow, what a ringing endorsement" stars

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Profile Image for Scrill.
407 reviews232 followers
November 15, 2017
“They say war is no dinner party. Not refined, graceful, courteous, or magnanimous. It’s complete devastation.”

Years after the fact, Sev is still ostracized and paying for the crimes of her traitor mother. When an attack on the city is blamed on Sev, she is flung into an escape that puts her outside the safety of the city’s walls. In her escape, Sev learns who she can really trust and how deep deception goes.

The Story- I am not going to lie, and just say that I was initially drawn to the cover of this book. That pagoda with the human suspended in it is just chilling. Unfortunately, I was a little let down from this book.

The pacing was all sorts of wack. To clarify, despite the necessity of the information and character building that the first half provides, it had the plot moving at a sluggish pace. You really spend a lot of time getting from one place to another. Granted, there is development in Sev, she makes friendships, and we learn enough about what is happening to keep you going. At about 70% you finally start to get some answers to the questions that have been leading up to that point, 70% is a LONG time to get some information. It’s all ends up being, for the most part, worth it once you hit 80% and the book throws you in a tailspin of action and excitement. We aren’t exactly left with a cliffhanger, but still have the need to find out what happens next.

The World Building-I love the Chinese influence that played into this book. Even though it was kept pretty minimal, it really helped build a unique setting. Sangster did a good job of taking something real (sleep sickness) and warping it to fit this story. I am really curious to see a bit more about the monsters that roam the land, and even to see if there are more than just the one type.

The Characters-
Sev-A character with morals that has fallen from grace not by her actions…What I love most about Sev is that she isn’t rebelling, she’s just trying to do what’s right in all the situations she finds herself in. Self-preservation meets a moral compass.

Tai-ge-Sorry, but this guy was sort of boring. I don’t remember anything interesting about him at all, which is just sad since he is Sev’s best friend.

Howl-The entire time I was reading this I hated on him just because his name was Howl. In my head I just kept thinking of Howl’s Moving Castle, and it just ruined it for me. I know that’s not fair to him, but what can I do? I do get the feeling there is more to him than we are really let on.

June-This girl was my favorite, she was the unexpected element that turned the tide for Sev and there is nothing but appreciation for this girl. Even though she had a fairly minor role in the book, as soon as she was brought in, she had a heavy presence in the story.

More reviews can be found at:

Buddy read with Miss Emi "Buddy Read Destroyer" Gilmore. Because I am a glutton for punishment. WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED THAT THIS DIDN'T GO VERY WELL?

This cover.

Profile Image for Alaina.
6,084 reviews215 followers
May 17, 2018
Last Star Burning definitely surprised me. The cover was beautiful in my opinion. I also had no idea what this book was initially about and kind of dove right into with my amazing buddy Andrea. Yes, I know it does sort of make you fall asleep or at least feel sleepy while reading it - but trust me it gets better!

Sev was such a likable character. I loved her friendship with Tai-ge but I absolutely hated how she was treated throughout the book. Yeah, her mom "betrayed" everyone. Who cares? It wasn't her! Throughout the story there's talk about this mysterious SS which infects people and changes how they act. So certain areas that have been deemed infected have to take a specific medicine that is supposed to help them in a way. Of course this intrigued me and kind of reminded me of other books at the same time, like The Girl With All the Gifts sort of.

Now this book does throw you some curves and some mystery towards you. I absolutely loved everything. However, I probably could've done without the "romance" part because I just couldn't support it. I tried, I really did.. but yet, no. Not for me.

Speaking of Sev early, she was a fantastic main character but I honestly really liked one of the secondary characters more. June was my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. She was such a bad ass and whenever she was in a chapter I was just smiling like a fool. I was sad when she left for a little bit but when she came back.. man, it felt like Christmas!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book when I wasn't skimming through the boring parts. I can't wait for the next book because I developed so many questions while reading this book. I demand answers!
Profile Image for Justine.
1,112 reviews301 followers
December 23, 2017
Decently engaging, but...

It seems as if maybe this book wasn't quite marketed properly. It's not fantasy, at all. It's a story set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian society (is there any other kind?), and although it isn't precisely clear where the City is geographically located, it is clearly intended to have had Chinese influences.

I have some mixed feelings about the book as a whole though. I didn't particularly love the writing style, but the story itself was pretty engaging. Specifically, the book wasn't as visual in parts as I would have liked, and some of the pacing felt a bit off to me. I think this roughness might be due in part to the fact that this is a debut novel, and I'm thinking that things might go smoother in the next book.

I did like the "everything you thought you knew was a lie" story and most of the characters as well, although to be honest there were a few confusing moments. That said, despite any difficulties I had, there was at the same time something very compelling about the book that kept me interested right to the end.
Profile Image for Krysti.
355 reviews126 followers
August 23, 2017
LAST STAR BURNING is a stunning debut by author Caitlin Sangster. The stakes could not be higher in this story about a girl who find herself at the heart of a conspiracy that threatens to destroy what remains of her war-torn world.

First, I do want to call attention to the fact this book is largely being shelved incorrectly. It is not a fantasy novel, but a brilliant dystopic/post-apolocalyptic novel. And it certainly has all the elements that I look for in that genre with government conspiracies, secret societies, and life-threatening obstacles. This novel is so well-written and definitely my favorite dystopian novel of the year so far.

The world-building in this book is impressive. It is clear that this story was very thoroughly plotted and planned out from the level of detail that Sangster has included. From the physical aspects to the social and political, everything about the world in LAST STAR BURNING came alive for me while I was reading, and I was completely immersed in its pages.

Sev was such a fantastic main character. She is intelligent, loving, and fierce when called to action. Watching her navigate the complexities of her society and strive to uncover the hidden truths of her past was absolutely absorbing. It was truly a pleasure to read through her perspective.

I also really enjoyed the pacing of this novel. Sangster perfectly balances the intense high-action scenes with Sev's progression toward unraveling the mysteries of her world. There are also a few fun and flirty scenes sprinkled in as well.

The tension built throughout the story right up through the heart-pounding conclusion, which definitely left me anxious to get my hands on books two! I cannot wait to see what Sangster has in store for us next!
Profile Image for McKelle George.
Author 1 book165 followers
May 29, 2017
I loved this book! I think the cover is slightly deceiving, which seems more fantasy, because this book is definitely dystopic/post-apocalyptic--but it ended up being a pleasant surprise because the worldbuilding is so twisty and smart and layered. Every time I thought I guessed where the book was headed, I was proven wrong. I adored Sev: I thought she was tough, but also a tiny bit awkward and funny and relatable in a way I found endearing. Also the ending is just . . . there better be a sequel, is all.
Profile Image for Kristen.
109 reviews2 followers
June 11, 2017
I loved this book! Last Star Burning takes parts of Sleeping Beauty and places them against a science fiction/dystopian backdrop. It's got a nice blend of sci fi and fairy tale elements, and the story moves along at an excellent pace. Plus, the worldbuilding in this novel is incredibly detailed and complex--just when you think you have everything figured out, the book drops another bombshell on you! It's a journey that mirrors the main character's, and it is definitely worth taking.

I think one the best strengths of Last Star Burning, however, is the protagonist: Sev is watchful, clever, and funny, and reading her interactions with the other characters in the book is a delight.

I can't wait until book two!
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
976 reviews776 followers
December 6, 2017
Well, I’m just a mixed bag of feelings now.

Honestly, this book is such a tough one to review. Because overall, I feel like I liked it. But then I try to think about what I liked about it and I can't really say. Does that make sense?

Because for almost half the book nothing even happens. I mean stuff happens, but only about a third of that feels like it is moving the plot along.

The beginning is filled with Sev pining after Tai Ge and give us glimpses into her families past and her fall from grace. Then the bombing happens and rather swiftly she is whisked away by this mysterious doctor and Howl. After which the book becomes a journey book where the two travel together to the mountain. But once they arrive things take a turn for the strange. Nothing and no one is free of suspicion.

Sev: If I had to describe Sev in one word I think it would be vanilla. There is nothing wrong with her, and I do enjoy her at times. But there was nothing outstanding or unique about her character either.

Howl: My relationship with Howl as a character is what I imagine a bad relationship is like. He is charming and wonderful at first, but then slowly he seems to turn into something else. The lies and omissions continue to stack up, but for some reason I find myself wanting to believe the best of him. Because, surely, he has his reasons. Despite his lies, I wanted to believe in him just as much as Sev did. I suppose a should applaud the author for making me feel that way? Because usually, I can spy a f*** boy a mile away.

*More detailed review to Come*
Profile Image for These Violent Delights (Robin).
366 reviews77 followers
November 12, 2017
Oh my gosh! I have so many emotions right now.

I love love love Sevvy as our main character, she has so much personality and originality. I really loved her character growth throughout this novel. Every new situation thrown at Sev, she gets right back up and adjusts accordingly. I really liked her ability to think things through.

Every other character definitely felt like they had their own voice, they were all written well. I really shipped Sevvy with one character throughout the entirety of this novel, even though they got separated and a new love interest was brought into the picture. DON'T WORRY EVERYONE, THERE ISN'T A LOVE TRIANGLE, or at least she wasn't loved by two different people at the same time.

I loved how well written the corruption is. How horrible the 'bad guys' are. There's never a clear cut line with who is good and who is bad, there's no black & white. You find yourself on the edge of your seat trying to understand who the real bad guys are.

The setting was just overall breathtaking. It was all so beautiful and horrific at the same time. Wherever Sev travels, Caitlin writes a picturesque landscape to go along with it.

I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
November 3, 2017
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

Sev has a star branded into her hand - the mark of a criminal... all due to her mother who was caught betraying her daughter and their city. From her fallen state Sev must prove her worth by doing whatever labor they give her... until a bomb is dropped and the government blames her! Uncertain who to trust but with few options she follows Howl, the chairman’s son, outside the walls to a supposed sanctuary, forced to leave behind her few loved ones.

Ignore the beautiful but confusing cover...
Neither the blurb nor the title do much to tell you what this book is really about and I hesitate to say more lest you feel I'm sharing spoilers. The cover is intriguing even if all that blue color makes it seems like a fantasy book at first! It backs up the blurb reminding you once again about her mother above the arch and it hints at the culture that underlies this world. But it is decidedly post apocalyptic dystopia. You need to know this as there is ZERO fantasy elements. It would be terribly disappointing to believe there was due to the cover and blurb combo!

The reason I decided to read this book is due to a review I read which simply stated that things aren't quite what they seem and even though there is a journey involved it is quite compelling due to mysterious Howl. I'd say this is ALL true AND MORE!

I know this sounds like I'm totally unexcited... NOOOO... I just feel like you need to read this book without undue expectations! Because the marketing for the book was unclear and sending mixed messages I DID NOT have any specific expectations and so I enjoyed the book quite a lot!

The best thing about the book was how classic tropes or typical cliches were turned on there head and you enjoyed the book BECAUSE of the cliche rather than in spite of it!

#1 - Sev is a special snowflake!
Cornerstone to the story and plot is that SEV IS DIFFERENT! She tells you so from the first page and it is a consistent theme throughout... she gets the same message from all sides! (This is the cliche!)

At the same time Sev totally captures you in a relatable and down to earth way! The traits that you would identify may vary slightly from mine but clever, loving, resourceful, fierce, and loyal all come to mind. She takes each event as it comes and while she's not happy about it you don't feel like she grew up whining just because she doesn't get her way.

Special snowflakes normally DO NOT have such a sweet spirit about them, nor do you WANT to root for them to figure everything out and to win! Great characterization wins out!

#2 - Sev spends the book traveling.
Cornerstone to Sev and Howl's relationship as well as the friendship she develops with June and the the people she meets in the mountain THEY MUST TRAVEL. In order for there to be NO insta-love or insta-friendship a substantial amount of time must be spent in one's company. (Traveling is a much hated cliche as are insta-relationships!)

I actually didn't really think about how this was such a travel intensive book until around the 50% mark because the plot was SO GREAT! Things were happening, I was drawn into Sev's experiences and her concerns and feelings. Unexpected mini-twists popped up and trust issues with Howl worked with this plot! The characters remained true to the personalities we'd seen so far. The introduction to June and their initial tentative relationship as well as relying on Howl and the knowledge he shared. Traveling provided the room needed for there relationships to development.

Traveling normally is NOT the development of two beautiful relationships, nor is it typically about MORE than where you're going! Great plotting can transform!

#3 - Dystopia and Post Apocalyptic stories are so DONE!
This genre has flooded the market and while there are tons of ways that a dystopia can be developed there are many copy cutter elements employed that lack creativity. (Making this a tired cliche!)

Sangster has my deep admiration for making her world feel CHINESE to the core and without very many Asian references! Incredibly creative! I can actually envision how Sev's world developed over the generations into the city and the mountain... HIGH PRAISE! A lot of why it works is Sev... you want to follow this girl as she makes her way through her world... as she uncovers the past once and for all so she be part of crafting a NEW future...

Does the world a story is set in really matter? NOT if you are engaged by BOTH the world building and the character making their way through it!!

#4 - Love triangles are the pits!
Do I need to say anything about this?! It's normally just so UNNECESSARY... (A cliche that MANY readers NEVER want to read again!)

I left this one til now because it isn't so easy to explain... Sufficient to say is there are two sides in this battle... the city and the mountain... Tai-ge is the boy you've known all you're life, he's been you're rock and basically you still have hope due to him, but you were never going to be his lover. He NEVER made overtures to you as his life is the city... Then you go on a long journey with another boy... someone so high from you're place that you never comprehended even knowing him! Howl is so unexpected... NOTHING that you could imagine... as you learn to trust you realize that there may be a very REAL place for you in the mountain!

You DO NOT expect love triangles to only be a SMALL part of the story... you expect them to DOMINATE and CRUSH THE PLOT! What happens when it is only an aspect of Sev's life? Almost a minor bit in the bigger scheme of things? THIS BOOK HAPPENS! I can't say more as it would RUIN IT for you and I can't do that... sufficient to say RELATIONSHIPS make even love triangles viable!

So why only 4 stars? If this book is KILLING CLICHES left and right, why not a perfect score?

#5 - Revolutions are so BORING!
A large part of why dystopia are considered so done is the revolution cliche.

I'm talking about when Sev and Howl get to the mountain. Suddenly I felt like I hit a wall and that wall was hard and unyieldingly boring! It just slowed down and instead of feeling like I was surrounded by mystery which I feel like was the aim I felt like Sev was treading water, not being herself but going along with what she was TOLD to do. The odd thing is that Sangster STILL turned revolutions on their HEAD!! She was STILL successful in making the revolution NOT BORING but considering this is a SPOILER FREE review I can't go into depth about WHY specifically the story was boring and the revolution was not...

Much of the story development was spot on! Really only the small 10-15% at the mountain was zero to the rest of the book's five star zoom! When story development doesn't quite work it can create pockets of slow or boring moments. Touching on briefly what makes the revolution compelling is the clear development of the medical side of the revolution. It was thought out, not overtly complicated yet still layered and twisty.

As a reader I was totally blown away by the end!
WOW! That last 25%... It totally brought together Sev's entire experience...! It made the trip out to the mountain worth the trek and while some of what happened is completely guessable there are parts you'd NEVER have put together yourself. It's fun and twisty and such a wild ride... do yourself a favor and read a book that breaks through the cliches!

⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Premise & World Building
⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Cover & Title
⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Development & Storycraft
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing & Narrative
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Relationships
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Feelings

BOTTOM LINE: Cliche killing story for dystopia lovers!

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter...
4 reviews1 follower
May 31, 2017
I've never met Sev...but I know her. This tale is told in her voice, and like other books I love where there is more written between the lines than on the page itself, this one reveals its characters' secrets, aspirations and motivations as it moves through a page-turning adventure that builds to a climactic cliff hanger of an ending. Add to the high-stakes intrigue one of the sweetest and most romantic moments ever to have taken place in the top of a tree, under a sky hung with starry jewels, and it's a winner from start to finish. Except this better not be the finish. We need more!
Profile Image for Megan Santini.
1 review2 followers
June 2, 2017
LOVED this book! I couldn't put it down. Seriously- I never do reviews but had to for this one.
Profile Image for Miranda.
733 reviews111 followers
October 4, 2017
Last Star Burning was such a delight to read! This book was a nonstop adventure that I couldn't stop reading! Sangster created a gripping and addictive novel full of action and mystery. There wasn't a single moment in this book that bored me. I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN!!!! I seriously stayed up so late finishing this book AND I HAVE ZERO REGRETS!!!

The dystopian world the author created in this novel was so immersive and unique. There were so many interesting elements to the world that kept presenting impossible obstacles for the characters and gripping mysteries. I loved the political intrigue and web of lies that the characters got tangled in. I never knew who to trust and I constantly was on the edge of my seat. THERE ALSO WAS SO MUCH ACTION THAT I LITERALLY WAS BITING MY NAILS OUT OF FEAR. This book made my heart race and constantly fear for the lives of the characters. IT WAS BRILLIANT. I was fascinated by the world and the plot of this story.

The main character, Sev, was a brilliant main character. Sev was hilarious, clever, resourceful, fierce, and loyal. I LOVED HER SO MUCH. She grew so much throughout the book and learned so much about herself. I loved watching her go on her personal journey. I also loved all the interactions she had with other characters in this story. Sev was such a dynamic characters that any conversation she had was brilliant. I NEED MORE SEV IN MY LIFE.

There was some slight romance in this book, but it never was a huge plot point. The romance was a slow burn that was full of sassy banter that created some great tension. I loved that the romance was presented throughout the story in little moments that never overshadowed the dangers and mystery that the characters should have been worried about. I SHIPPED THE ROMANCE SO MUCH, BUT I HAVE SOME CONFLICTING FEELINGS. THERE WAS A LOT OF TENSION AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. I NEED THOSE ANSWERS ASAP!!!!

Overall, this book was an utterly captivating and mesmerizing novel. This definitely is one of my favorite dystopian novels out there! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a high-stakes dystopian novel with plenty of mystery and brilliant characters!


5 / 5 Fangs

*This ebook was given to me in exchange for an honest review. *

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It

Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,693 reviews855 followers
October 15, 2017
I went into Last Star Burning hopeful and expecting but have left on a more sour note. Sangster pulled out the big guns for her debut and developed a world that was complex and clever. This story touched on a lot of important themes of freedom and society that I think will really tickle a lot of readers, but it lacked heart. I was never with the characters in the story. I found them tired and a tad shallow. I never came to truly connect with them, which left me in the awkward position of not becoming emotionally invested in their story.

Like I said, Sangster’s world was definitely clever. The blend of fantasy and dystopia worked wonders. Sangster mentioned that she was inspired by the Chinese Cultural Revolution and that inspiration was quite evident in the story. It led to some very interesting topics being raised throughout the plot which I enjoyed. I know that dystopian stories with these themes may be a tad overdone for the majority of readers but I adore them, so it was exactly to my liking.

With that being said, I really struggled with the plot. It was slow and a tad trudging. Maybe it was more of my personal mood affecting my patience but I was constantly distracted. I wanted something to happen that pulled me in and left me truly engaged. The pacing was not quite perfect. There were slow moments and rushed action scenes and a general lack of emotion that left me distanced from the unfurling plot. The last quarter was a particular drag. It fell back on a lot of tropes and failed to hit that emotional climatic sweet spot that all stories should at the 75% mark. I had to force myself to concentrate so I could actually finish the book.

The characters were okay. I never disliked them but I also never came to truly care for them. I found Sev an odd blend. She was meant to be humorous and sharp-witted but… I didn’t find her funny. I know that seems such a weird thing to call a character out on but we were constantly told that Sev was sassy and she had all these ‘witty lines’ that just did nothing for me. It was a weird experience to see all the characters laughing at this characters and fell so unattached and not in the moment. It really added to my disconnection from the story.

Overall? I think Sangster has potential as an author. Their world-building was clever and impressive for a debut. I loved the themes raised and definitely want to see where this story is heading in the sequel. I just wish the characters and storyline had been more engaging.

Review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,161 reviews1,299 followers
March 27, 2021
Full Review on The Candid Cover

It has been a while since I’ve read a dystopian, but I’m glad I picked up Last Star Burning. This is such an original story that is filled with political intrigue and plot twists. The main character is so likeable and fierce, and the setting is incredibly complex. This book is one not to be missed!

This book is so action-packed that it is impossible to put down! It tells the story of a girl wrongly accused of a bombing who flees from the city to escape execution. However, she is already branded as a traitor because of her mother’s past actions, making it even more difficult to survive. Sev meets many new people while on the run, namely the chairman’s son, and learns the truth about the frightening disease going around the nation. Last Star Burning is full of plot twists and intrigue, and is sure to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

Sev is the perfect main character for a dystopian like this one. She is orphaned, and her mother’s past follows her wherever she goes, but she stays strong. I liked how Sev is curious, but also cautious. She is willing to do whatever it takes to survive and fight for her rights. Sev is a character with an interesting backstory, and it is very enjoyable uncovering the truth about her past along with her.

I adored the world of Last Star Burning! It is kind of like a dystopian China, and I found it to be very complex. Everything is so well thought out, including the government and the social class system. The setting is logical, but there is also a lot of secrecy and information to be revealed. There is a disease going around called Sleeping Sickness based on a real condition, and Last Star Burning doesn’t leave any holes. This world is so developed, and it is so easy to become immersed in it while reading.

Last Star Burning is a brilliant dystopian novel with an intelligent and sassy main character. The world is so unique and adds so much complexity to the book. I would definitely recommend this one, even if you aren’t a big dystopian fan, since it is so captivating and will really stick with the reader.
Profile Image for mich.
647 reviews230 followers
December 29, 2018
I think this book could've been really good. It's got this fantasy slash dystopian vibe that could be really cool, and the premise with that whole traitor thing was also cool. But this book had 2 things that I really REALLY hate.

Thing I Hate Number One:

Massive, massive info-dumps. I hate them. This book had them. LOTS of them. Pages and pages of info-dumps. The kind that make your eyes glaze over.

But the kind where you feel like you need to re-read the entire page again cuz you're afraid you're missing something important to the world-building (and you likely are). So you read the page over again and realize that you still didn't really absorb it yet cuz the dumps of info, they are so massive, so you read the same page AGAIN. I fricken hate that.

(This author also employed one of my pet peeves during one of her info-dumps: the whole let's put our MC in a classroom setting thing and have the reader learn about the world through some boring-ass class instruction. Like, seriously? So fricken lazy!!!I've seen this done so many times, it's crazy. I can't believe authors still do this.)

The Other Thing I Hate:

If the MC would only ask questions, and demand answers to those questions from people who are perfectly capable of providing those answers, there wouldn't be much to engage the reader.

I hate when that tactic is used for "suspense" or to drop the "plot twist". That can't be all you got. IT'S LAME.

Aside from those 2 things, the characters themselves didn't really draw me in, which is a must for me if the pacing and plot aren't doing it for me. 1.5 stars Not planning to read the next one.
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,125 reviews459 followers
October 19, 2017
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Young Adult, Fantasy
*Rating* 3.5-4


Last Star Burning, by debut author Caitlin Sangster, is the first installment in the authors Last Star Burning series. For the past 8 years, Sevvy Jiang has been labeled as a Fourth Class citizen all because the City Proletariat claims that her own mother betrayed the city by infecting her own daughter with the so called encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness. A sickness that can only be settled with a drug called Mantis. Sevvy has been branded with a star seared into her flesh as a way to indicate that she is the daughter of a traitor, and has been forced to undergo indoctrination.

*Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*


Profile Image for Andy.
2,360 reviews185 followers
May 18, 2018

Man that ending just has me like:

I really struggled getting into this book. I was literally falling asleep reading this. Not because it was bad or anything. But the beginning was quite slow and there was something about the writing that just made me want to sleep.

Around halfway, things got like 100x more interesting and tense af. I like tense situations, they make things fun. I guess I also struggled with the characters, I felt disconnected from them for most of the book. I was always confused about what the big picture was and where the book was going. Plus, these characters seem to have random chemistry with like everyone they cross paths with. I was like

Besides this I enjoyed the Chinese influences the author used in forming this world she's created. It did make this a bit different from all the other fantasy books out there. I also loved the discussion on this sleeping sickness virus though I am confused on quite a few things from a scientific stand point. Like how the hell this virus can't transmit between people, but a bomb explodes by you and you get it?? Yeah that makes 0 sense.
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
578 reviews127 followers
May 18, 2021
This. Was. So. Good.
It's been a while since I've read a dystopian novel (I think Divergent was the last and that series ending made me feel like I had wasted my time), and this hit all the marks for me. The story was engaging and clever, the world unique and fully developed, and the novel as a whole has just enough to make me wonder if this couldn't happen in future. The characters Sangster brings to life are wonderful. Sev is someone I would love to be friends with and I feel her thoughts with acute sympathy. I'm looking forward to more from this author.

Full review at A Book Shrew
Profile Image for Rachel.
581 reviews13 followers
June 29, 2017
I was given an advance copy of this book and asked to give it a review. Since the author is my beautiful and talented niece, I was all ready to come up with all sorts of sweet things to say about her book and do my best not to hurt her feelings if I didn't like it and since I believe in being honest, I was worried how I would write a review that would be positive and supportive if I didn't like the book or thought it wasn't written very well............

I have just finished, "Last Star Burning" and all I can say is, THERE BETTER BE A SEQUEL!!!!! Not only is this book well written, it has been an extremely long time since I've read a book that keeps me up late at night turning the pages and hurrying to get back to it the next day! I was loathe to set it down when it was finished!!

Well done, Caitlin!! I'll babysit your kids if it will speed along the next book, because there is going to be another, right?!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Emily Cait.
201 reviews8 followers
August 27, 2017
I was sent an ARC for free through work as #indigoemployee in exchange for an honest review.

This was a 4.5 star read for me. It reminded me of all of the best parts of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The 100. We have a post-war setting, highly regimented and divided societies, and very "us" vs the Other mentalities in all groups we encounter.

It was set in a non-Western setting. The author's notes mention her passion for Chinese history, the research she's done, and places for readers to find more historical information on the historical events she uses as inspiration, and I really appreciated that.

I liked the ties to fairytales and the value placed on storytelling. It was fast-paced, the narrator was interesting, and the ending subverted my expectations. I'm excited for the next book.

A more in-depth review to come on my YouTube channel (link in my bio).
Profile Image for Angelica Oler.
6 reviews1 follower
August 31, 2017
I could not put it down, I loved this book! The first few pages were a little rough for me because first person is not my favorite narrative but it didn't take long to adjust my mind's eye to the right perspective and I was completely enveloped.
The author does a great job of helping you build this world in your imagination with just the right amount of detail. The story has so many twists and turns it was hard to find a place to stop because I just had to know what happened next! I literally said out loud as I finished the last chapter "there better be another one!". And for days after finishing the book I missed the characters and wanted to know what happened next and then more.
Having returned the reviewer's copy I read, I'm excited to get my own copy October 10, 2017! I want to read it again, which I don't do often.
Profile Image for Raven_Blake (dreamy addictions).
753 reviews225 followers
October 29, 2017
Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars!
Same Review Also Posted In My Blog: Dreamy Addictions

Okay, I have mixed feelings about this book. I really liked the whole concept of the story and the setting, but there are few aspects in this book that made me not fully love it. The snow-white fairytale element in a dystopian world seemed very refreshing and I really liked how the author also incorporated the elements of Chinese culture into it. The setting of this book is very unique but I can’t say the same about the plot. There are so many clichéd parts in this book that you’ll find in any typical dystopian books especially the revolution and government conspiracy part. I’m not saying it was a boring read because the story did held my attention through out and the last twenty percent is definitely the best part of the whole book. The characters, the setting and the plot are decent enough to enjoy but nothing amazing enough to blow your mind away.

Sev is a fourth level citizen, the lowest class in the city but everyone knows her face because she’s the daughter of a traitor who turned against the city by helping the rebels. Because of her mother’s action everyone pretty much loaths her presence. For betraying the city, her mother was injected with SS, a sleeping sickness which is currently plaguing their world. Her half sleeping paralyzed body was displayed above the traitors arch as a trophy and also as a warning to others who wants to turn against them. When a horrific bombing occurs in the city, everyone suspects it was Sev because she’s the traitor’s daughter. To escape from the crime she hasn’t committed, she flees from the city with the help of a boy named Howl, an elite first class citizen and also the chairman’s son. Howl promises her to lead her to safety but Sev doesn’t understand why he wants to help her and it seems like he has his own secret agenda that he don’t want to reveal until they reached their destination. When they finally reach outside the city walls, Sev learns that the city has been lying to them about so many things and finally when all the secrets and betrayals are revealed, she doesn’t know whom to trust, but to save her loved ones, she has to take matters into her own hands.

Sev is a likable character but she’s definitely not my favorite protagonist. Though I loved her strength and fierceness, I didn’t like how she was so naive trusting others. Most of the time she doesn’t do anything to find answers even though she felt unsafe with her surroundings. She just waited until everything fell into her lap. As the story progressed, it was pretty easy to guess that she was just following the special snowflake syndrome. Tai-ge is the city’s general’s son, and also best friend of Sev who has known her since she was young and he calls her Sevvy. He’s really a sweet friend who really cares for Sev and they always enjoy playing weiqi board together. I actually liked this guy at the beginning but he soon lost all the brownie points when he acted a bit unfriendly towards her in public because of her mark which brands her as a criminal. Howl is a pretty interesting character who was mysterious, cocky and fun. He does have a charming personality and I can’t blame Sev for falling for him. I was actually going to root for him but the ending kinda made everything pretty much upside down. There is not much romance in this book but there are some flirty scenes between Sev and Howl. From the start, It was easy to guess there’s going to be some love triangle. After the stunning cliffhanger at the end, I would love to know how the drama unfolds in the next book. As for the secondary characters, I loved June! I actually liked her more than Sev and she’s really a great addition to the plot and I hope we get to see more of her in the sequel.

The plot was decent enough to enjoy, It was interesting and not too much predictable. It began with a slow start (I hate slow starts) but eventually the pace picks up speed in the second half. At the beginning, I was a bit confused with the world and everything so it really took some time for me to get into it. The sleeping sickness is a very interesting part of the story. The SS makes the victims succumb to a deep sleep before they awaken with violent tendencies which can only be controlled through a drug called Mantis. The major twists in the plot are totally unpredictable and I loved the ending part where things took an interesting turn, and everything becomes Chaos. I liked the writing style which was easy to understand. For a debut author, Caitlin has pretty good writing skills. The story was told in Sev’s first person POV but I might have enjoyed it more if it was told in multiple POV’s. The world building was great but it needs more development. I liked how the author constructed this world and how the citizen’s are divided by their class. This book was actually marketed as a fantasy novel but unfortunately, there are no fantasy elements in it. It is purely a sci-fi dystopian novel.

Overall, I liked it! It was an entertaining read filled with adventure, action, and political intrigue. Despite issues, I really liked the whole concept of the story and I’m very excited to know what happens next because of the shocking cliffhanger at the end.
Profile Image for Tracey Dyck.
Author 3 books76 followers
March 5, 2018
Mixed feelings on this one.


-Interesting story world. I don't think I've ever read a dystopian set in China! (Although this feels a smidgen like fantasy as well?) I liked the setup of the City and the wilderness of Outside.

-Sleeping Beauty elements. They didn't overrun the story or make it a retelling, but there was enough to give the book that fairytale flavor.

-Speaking of which, the Sleeping Sickness (which is based off a real thing, encephalitis lethargica) was cool.

-Sev was actually loyal to her City despite all the terrible things the system had done to her.

-Her discovery of apples was so cute!

-My copy is from a PageHabit box, so there are nifty sticky note annotations from the author.


-Info dumping, especially around the beginning.

-I felt jerked around a bit, especially in action scenes. I had to reread several confusing parts to see if I was missing details.

-No spoilers, but by the end there were very few characters I LIKED. Most people were backstabby and not who they said they were.

-Howl's name constantly reminded me of Howl's Moving Castle, which isn't really a bad thing, just unfortunate because the two books are worlds apart.

-A lot could have been avoided if Sev had just used her common sense and asked more questions. You'd think an orphan branded and bullied by the City would be more naturally suspicious.

OVERALL, I was decently entertained. There were parts of the book I really liked, but I think my disappointment in a certain character is coloring my view on the rest of it. I'll probably give the sequel a chance when it comes out, though.
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books478 followers
Want to read
June 8, 2019
'Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.'

yes because punishing children for the acts of their parents is always a good idea
Profile Image for ⭐Anny⭐ (Book Princess) .
429 reviews262 followers
February 11, 2021
4 stars, made up of 3.5 for the first half and 4.5 for the second half.
I initially thought Last Star Burning was some kind of post apocalyptic fantasy novel, and I was wrong. While there are certainly some elements of a post apocalyptic world/environment, it's definitely not fantasy. Don't read this if you're looking for a fantasy novel. It's a dystopian, don't let the cover fool you. That being said, here's what I thought about the book!

I had a hard time getting into the book tbh. Sometimes the writing felt off, as if one sentence had almost nothing to do with the previous one, and it also took some time getting used to the world and society. What I liked about it was that for once, this book isn't set in the remains of North America. We don't really know where it's set, but the society and culture definitely have some asian roots. You can see that in the character's names (and from the cover, obviously). Other than that, it's a typical dystopian society, I'm talking different classes and a government that keeps the population in the dark about what's really going on (both inside and outside of the city). That's why I didn't enjoy the first third of the book that much - it wasn't bad or boring, but it wasn't new either. It felt like I'd read the same story countless times already.

But about a third in, it became more interesting. Our main character is out of the city and slowly learns about all the lies she's been told her whole life. Some of the revelations I totally saw coming (typical case of If you've read one ya dystopia, you've read them all^^), others I didn't, and that was awsome. The further I got into the book, the more confused I got, but that was actually a good thing because I felt exactly like Sev, our MC, must have been feeling: not knowing who tells the truth, who to trust and what to do now. And about 50 % in, I almost couldn't put the book down.

Another interesting note was the so-called Sleeping Sickness spreading in the city. It was a different approach to a conflict between the different parties involved in the book. The portrayal of the disease was kinda impressive and scary, and it kinda freaked me out when I found out in the author's note that a similar disease is real and, as the author stated, "one of medicine's greatest mysteries". Creepy shit.

Since this is definitely the first book in a trilogy (?) the first half was a bit slow, it was mostly discovering the world and served as an introduction to the sequels. The ending was a terrible cliffhanger, it felt like the end of a tv show episode when everything's falling apart and you have to wait a week (or longer) for the next episode. Arrghh!! But then, the whole ending was so fast paced and exciting and the pages kept turning themselves, I definitely loved the second half!

A short note on the characters. Sev, the MC, is the typical ya dystopia MC, but she wasn't unlikable. Her character really grew throughout the book without being an invincible badass in the end. I liked ber friend Tai-Ge, although we don't know a lot about him. Howl, sort of the male MC (and yes, we have 2 male characters aka 2 possible love interests), was very interesting. That's all you're gonna get at this point because going into depth about him could easily turn into spoilers. I really loved June (although her name kept reminding me of June from Legend^^), she really was a cool character and I loved her development and that there's more to her than a little Outside girl.

So all in all I really enjoyed this book, even if it wasn't exactly what I'd expected. But if you like dystopian scenarios and you're looking for a different cultural approach, you'll most likely enjoy this book too! The sequel is definitely going on my tbr, but it's not a priority. I'd be happy to continue with this series one day though :)
Profile Image for Genna.
393 reviews9 followers
August 19, 2017
Shoutout to my BFF for sending me an ARC of this.

As the daughter of the most notorious criminal in the City, Sev has been branded a traitor. Once a First, the most elite level of society, Sev is now a Fourth, hated by the city and forced to perform hard labor to prove that she's worth salvaging. The nation is at war, fighting against an elusive rebel group and struggling to combat the Sleeping Sickness, a plague in which its victims succumb to a coma-like sleep before awakening with a penchant for violence and destruction. When Sev is framed by the government for a horrendous bombing, she has no choice but to flee the sanctuary of the City and take her chances in the unknown dangers of the Outside. Fleeing, she finds an unexpected ally in Howl, the Chairman's son, who appears well equipped to ensure her survival. But Howl harbors deep secrets and Sev is left wondering who she can trust and who is truly her enemy.

Last Star Burning is a slow-burn dystopian which draws subtle inspiration from the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. For some reason this cover really suggested fantasy to me, but this is decidedly in the dystopian camp. Retellings are hot these days, but when they're well done and diverge enough from the original tale I think that they can make for rich stories. Of note is the world building, which is potent and layered with unexpected complexities that really make this story what it is. Everything about Last Star Burning and its characters are morally grey and I loved how Sangster really subverts the prescriptive idea of the heroic rebel. Sev is my favorite kind of heroine that I'm enjoying seeing more and more of in YA; she's tenacious and intrepid, yet not immune to insecurities and moments of despair. I think a bit of patience is needed as the intricate backdrop is woven for this story, but the twists and the betrayals are absolutely worth the wait, and the ending is set up perfectly for a dangerously thrilling sequel.
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