Chichipio's Reviews > Stray

Stray by Andrea K. Höst
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really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi

Andrea Höst will NEVER be a successful YA writer! Remember, you've read it here first. You won't believe what she did… The nerve!

You see, she created a smart, resourceful heroine who doesn't spend her time either whining or swooning. *gasp* And she has a personality! *double gasp* Un-freaking-believable. I know, I know, I'm shaking my head slowly, too. But wait, just like in an infomercial, this is the part where I say "there's more!" Although, in this case, there's less. Sit down and breathe deeply, relax. OK, here it goes: There. Isn't. A. Love. Triangle. Say whaaaa? In fact, there are only hints of a possible romance. I know, crazy, right? And if at this point you're wondering if she went completely crazy, then let me tell you that the answer might very well be YES because she also left out any mention of phony angels, Lilith and sparkling vamps, and there aren't any sentences like "I want you but we can't be together because I'm too dangerous" and hardly any stalking at all.

I know you must have run out of fingers ticking off all the things that make a YA book these days. I mean, what else is out there? There must be a reason why there are so many YA books recycling the same plot and characters over and over. Well, apparently, the reason is just good ol' money-grabbing laziness. This book is proof that there are other subjects and types of characters besides the overused usual suspects.

First, a brief summary of the book. Cass, a 17 years old girl walks through some sort of wormhole and ends up in another, deserted planet. She doesn't know how she did it or how to go back, so she sets up to survive until a better alternative comes along. After a couple of weeks, some strangers show up and rescue her. They're psychic, more advanced than people on Earth and have some very cool toys, but unfortunately they also have huge problems. They're at war and the elite soldiers are like space ninjas! Don't read the tag unless you want the plot really spoiled: (view spoiler)

Without certain means to go back to Earth, she settles on trying to make the most of her situation by helping her rescuers. Not that she has much choice, but still, I like the way she thinks. She rolls with the punches. It's hard to make a character likable when she's not in control of her life. Most of her decisions are made for her, but she manages to react well and adapt to make the most of it without indulging on a self-pity fest of endless whining.

Most of the other characters are still kind of a mystery. It takes a while until we learn which of them are the more important ones and even so, they're very reserved for us to get much on them from Cass's perspective, especially while she's not completely accepted as part of the group. But we have two more books to go, so I guess that the next one will show us more about them now that the board is set. Still, the little bit we do know is all show and no tell, which gives this aspect of the book extra points.

The book is written in diary format. Cass has a blank notebook in her backpack when she steps through the wormhole and she starts to use it as a way of keeping her sanity. At first, especially because she's totally alone, the format is very noticeable and I'm sure it won't work for everyone, though having some experience writing diaries, I found it believable. A little into the book, however, when she starts interacting with people, the format takes a back sit while the story itself comes to the front and I hardly noticed it, except to keep track of the date which was kind of neat.

There's a glossary at the end and it really came in handy because there are a lot of support characters and powers. After a while, though, you learn which ones are the important ones, but still it's nice that you can know the names of everyone if you feel like it. Imagine a glossary like this on Ender's Game, for example.

I like sci-fi, but I'm not obsessed with nerding things out by dissecting the genre into a gazillion sub-genres, defending one of them to death while condemning other (which has only a minor variation) to hell just to show how much I know. So I won't even try to define this in those terms. The most I could say is that it's not space opera. (view spoiler) If you're looking for some sci-fi to read, I'd definitely recommend this (the fact that you can get it super cheap on smashwords doesn't hurt, either) but don't ask me whether is soft or hard or whatever. They have nanites, space ships, wormholes, a few gaming references and other cool stuff—use that to decide.

A little warning. This book is part of a trilogy and the type of ending is right in the middle between giving each book a proper ending and just cutting a book in three parts semi-randomly. So now you know, there's no big climax, but we're not left mid-sentence with a cliffhanger, either. For me it worked like this: I want to read what happens next but I'm not mad about the fact that it's not out yet.

Wow, I was just quickly rereading this, trying to catch the various articles and prepositions that usually don't make it from my mind to my fingers when I noticed something: WTH was I smoking when I started writing this? The tone of the first paragraphs makes me seem like a teen ferret on crack. I knew I shouldn't have skipped the medication that lets me subdue that part of my brain. Being a ferret sucks!
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Reading Progress

March 23, 2011 – Shelved
March 23, 2011 – Shelved as: sci-fi
May 12, 2011 – Started Reading
May 16, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)

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The UHQ Nasanta "OK, here it goes: There. Isn't. A. Love. Triangle. Say whaaaa? In fact, there are only hints of a possible romance. I know, crazy, right? And if at this point you're wondering if she went completely crazy, then let me tell you that the answer might very well be YES because she also left out any mention of phony angels, Lilith and sparkling vamps, and there aren't any sentences like "I want you but we can't be together because I'm too dangerous" and hardly any stalking at all."

This was the part that made me think: "Ooh, I want to read this." :)

Flannery This is sooo long. Just looking at it on my thread is disturbing me. I'll be back to read it later.

Chichipio I knew I should have put the picture of a kitten to hold your attention there. It's at moments like this when I envy your graphjam creativity. (view spoiler)

niquae, something I forgot to mention up there. This is self-published so there always could be some grammatical awkwardness or a typo. Some people are very nitpicky about those things, so keep it in mind to decide. I'm not an English major but the small things I did notice are on par with mistakes made by people with a whole team behind them. It didn't ruin the experience at all.

Flannery Several things--you didn't sound like a baby ferret, you sounded like a tween fangirl. Also, please tell me more about your experience writing diaries.

This book sounds like a mixture of lots of other ones I enjoy. You are addicted to Smashwords--you do know that the Book Depository ships international for free, right?

And "I want you but we can't be together because I'm too dangerous"? If I only had a nickel for every time I said that to someone...

message 5: by Andrea (last edited May 20, 2011 02:12AM) (new) - added it

Andrea Hilarious review. :)

The sub-genre would be "space adventure", though "rambling SF travelogue" works too.

I avoid love triangles because I always seem to vastly prefer the "loser".

Chichipio @Flann, a tween fangirl, really? ZOMG, that was totally what I was going for! (I'll tell you about my Doogie Howser style diary later.)

I didn't know that about Book Depository but I'm going to check it out. But yes, I like Smashwords for several reasons, but mainly because using Paypal makes it so simple.

And, are you saying that your training with kitchen knives while making me sandwiches turned you into someone dangerous? (view spoiler)

@Andrea, thanks. Not only for the comment but especially for avoiding triangles; they're eeeevil.

Wendy Darling This sounds really good Chichi (at least from skimming it, I mostly hate photo reviews but could have used SOMETHING here too). But what's with the cover art? It looks more like juvie fiction than YA...

Chichipio Yeah, the covers make all her books seem MG. Once you are reading the stories, you get the meaning of the pictures and they do make sense; in fact, they sum up the stories quite appropriately. The problem is, you see all that afterwards, so yeah, they aren't great for marketing.

Wendy Darling All right. I'll trust the ferret. :D

Chichipio When have I ever lied? Okay, okay… Don't answer! Since I can't find a fault in your argument, I'll revert to middle school and settle this by calling you a chicken! So there.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm with Niq and calling it a "to-read" This was one alluring review :D

message 12: by Limonessa (new)

Limonessa Why are you not writing more reviews like this Chichipio?! Is the ferret hibernating?

Flannery *grabs pitchfork*


Chichipio Before answering, I should point out that unless you're super quick or the prongs are really close together, I would easily evade your pitchfork. Good thing you forgot to bring a torch.

The thing is, I don't like working (there should be a period here) on reviews. Back when I wrote this, words seemed to just pour out of me. I would write whatever I thought all at once, read it once to correct the most glaring mistakes and that was it. Now, it turns out, I have to think about what I want to say, and my brain isn't giving me much to work with.

Me: Brain, what did I think about this one?
Brain: You liked it.
M: … Is that it? I mean, all of it?
B: Yep.
M: $#!*

So there you have it. I guess I could build on the "you liked it" idea if I sit and ask why? and what? and all those other important questions, but we all know that I'm too lazy to even consider it. I have faith in Brain, it'll come around… eventually. Personally, I think I need a horrible 1 star book to shake things up a bit. There's no way it'll remain silent through one of those.

Wendy Darling Yeah, you. *shakes fist* Where the heck have you been? We miss your brain! It's upsetting to have to admit that, but it's true.

And I have plenty of one-star books I could "recommend" to you.

Danait Negassi I solely read the book based of your comment and boy was I glad! Thank you :)

message 17: by Martyn (new) - added it

Martyn Stanley Great review. This does sound good, despite the diary format - which is a put off for me.

message 18: by Gabrielle (new) - added it

Gabrielle Nicole Awesome review! Actually makes me want to read this Non-YA, *wink wink*

message 19: by Urvi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Urvi This is my favorite series. Just Love it.

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