Sky Without Stars (System Divine Series #1)

Sky Without Stars (System Divine Series #1)

by Jessica Brody, Joanne Rendell

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Overview

“Not to be missed!” —Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles
“An explosion of emotion, intrigue, romance, and revolution.” —Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Caraval series


In the tradition of The Lunar Chronicles, this sweeping reimagining of Les Misérables tells the story of three teens from very different backgrounds who are thrown together amidst the looming threat of revolution on the French planet of Laterre.

A thief.
An officer.
A guardian.

Three strangers, one shared destiny...

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes...

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of an infamous traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years...and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534410633
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 03/26/2019
Series: System Divine Series , #1
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 17,197
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)
Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jessica Brody is the author of several popular novels for teens and tweens, including The Geography of Lost Things, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, A Week of Mondays, Better You Than Me, and the Unremembered trilogy. She lives with her husband and four dogs near Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at JessicaBrody.com.

Joanne Rendell is the author of three novels and holds a PhD in English literature. She teaches fiction writing to teens and kids and is a board member for the youth Shakespeare company, New Genesis Productions. With her husband and son, Joanne divides her time between New York City and New Paltz, New York. Visit Joanne at JoanneRendell.com.

Read an Excerpt

Sky Without Stars - CHAPTER 1 -
THE RAIN WAS FALLING SIDEWAYS in the Marsh. It was never a straight downpour. It was always crooked. Just like the people here. Con artists and hustlers and crocs, the lot of them.

Anyone can be a saint until they’re hungry enough.

Chatine Renard was perched high above it all, watching the stream of people churn through the busy marketplace like clotted blood through a vein. She was straddling an exposed metal beam that once connected the old freightship to its roof.

At least, that’s what Chatine had been told—that the Frets were once titanic flying vessels that soared across the galaxy, bringing her ancestors to the planet of Laterre, the coldest and wettest of the twelve planets in the System Divine. But years of neglect and crooked rain had corroded the PermaSteel walls and ceilings, turning the staterooms in the passenger freightships into leaky, mold-ridden housing for the poor, and this cargo freightship into an open-air marketplace.

Chatine pulled her hood farther down her forehead in an attempt to block her face. Much to her dismay, she’d noticed over the past few years that her eyelashes had grown longer, her chest had filled out, her cheekbones had become more pronounced, and her nose had slimmed to a dainty point, which she despised.

She had streaked her face with mud before coming to the Marsh today, but every time she caught sight of her reflection in a puddle or the metal of a partially collapsed wall, she cringed at how much she still looked like a girl.

So inconvenient.

The Marsh was far more crowded today than usual. Chatine leaned forward and balanced on her stomach, hugging the beam to her chest as she scanned the countless faces that passed beneath her. They were always the same faces. Poor, downtrodden souls like her trying to find creative ways to stretch their weekly wages.

Or con their neighbor out of a larg or two.

Newcomers were rare to the Marsh. No one outside of the Third Estate bothered with the picked-over cabbages and mangy turnips for sale. With the exception of Inspecteur Limier and his army of Policier droids tasked with keeping the peace, the Frets and the marketplace in its center were normally avoided at all costs by anyone who didn’t live here.

Which was why the man in the long coat immediately caught Chatine’s eye. His wealth was written all over his groomed black beard, matching hair, pressed clothes, and sparkling adornments.

Second Estate, to be sure.

She’d never known the First Estate to ever venture out of Ledôme. The climate-controlled biodome sat high on the hill on the outskirts of the capital city of Vallonay, shielding the First Estate from Laterre’s persistent downpours.

And the slums below.

Chatine’s eyes raked over the man, taking in every stitch and every button. Her gaze expertly landed on the gold medallion dangling like bait from his neck. She didn’t have to see it up close to know it was a relic from the Last Days, rescued from the burning embers of a dying planet. The Second Estate loved their First World relics.

Five hundred largs easy, Chatine calculated in her head. Enough money to feed an entire Third Estate family for weeks.

But it wouldn’t be long before the rest of the crocs in the Marsh spotted the treasure too and made their play. Which meant Chatine had to move fast.

Gripping the beam with both hands, she swung her legs over the side and launched her body to the nearby catwalk, landing silently in a crouch. Directly underneath her, the man continued farther into the marketplace, weaving around the loose chickens that roamed the stalls searching for scraps. His gaze swept left and right as though he was taking mental inventory of the space.

For a moment, Chatine wondered what he was doing here. Had he gotten lost on his way back up to Ledôme? Or was he here on some kind of business? But then she remembered the annual Ascension happening later today and reasoned he was probably a foreman of a fabrique, come to round up his workers who were skipping out on their shifts to get jacked up on weed wine, all the while hoping to win a new life.

“Win a new life?” Chatine muttered to herself, and let out a bitter laugh.

Deluded fools, all of them.

She crept across the grid of overhead walkways and ramps, skillfully ducking to avoid broken water pipes and leaping over giant chasms in the grated floor. All the while, she kept a close watch on the man, making sure she was never more than a few steps behind him.

He finally slowed near Madame Dufour’s stall, pulled an apricot from his pocket, and took a large bite, the juice dripping into his beard. Chatine’s mouth started to water. She’d only ever tasted an apricot once, when a crate had fallen off the back of a cargo transporteur delivering fruit from the hothouses to Ledôme.

Chatine watched Madame Dufour size the man up with sinister fascination. The old croc was practically licking her lips at the sight of such an easy mark.

It was now or never.

Ducking under the broken railing, Chatine grabbed onto the raised rim of the walkway floor and somersaulted over the edge. She whipped her body forward, fell three mètres down, and adeptly caught the beam below her. She circled around until it rested against her hips and she could balance there.

She was now only a mètre above the man’s head. Yet with the buzz of the busy marketplace, no one even bothered to look up.

“What a pitiful sight,” the man said, taking another bite of his apricot. He didn’t even bother to hide his disgust. The Second Estate rarely did. It was something about being stuck in the middle, Chatine had always noticed—not quite rulers and yet far from being one of the wretched like her—that gave the Second Estate their shameless sense of arrogance.

They were almost more intolerable than the First Estate.

Almost.

Chatine’s gaze cut to the left, taking in the tower of empty crates stacked up next to Madame Dufour’s stall. She shimmied along the beam until she was directly above them. Then, she tipped forward, rotated around, and kicked both feet out in front of her.

The crash was louder than she anticipated. The crates toppled to the ground, avalanching around the man as he fell to his knees with a grunt.

Chatine moved quickly. She landed in a squat, then crawled through the wreckage until she found the man and graciously helped him back onto his feet. He was so busy brushing dust and cabbage leaves from his coat, he didn’t even feel the medallion being lifted from his neck.

“Are you all right, monsieur?” Chatine asked in her friendliest tone, slipping the pendant into her pocket.

The man barely looked at her as he straightened his hat. “Quite all right, boy.”

“You must be careful in the Marsh, monsieur. It isn’t safe for someone of your rank.”

“Merci,” he said dismissively as he tossed the apricot he’d been eating toward Chatine.

She caught it and flashed him an appreciative smile. “Vive Laterre.”

“Vive Laterre,” he echoed before turning away.

Chatine grinned at the man’s back as she turned on her heel and slipped the half-eaten apricot into her pocket. It took all her strength not to consume the entire thing here and now.

She knew the man would hardly even miss that gold medallion from his neck. He probably had ten just like it back in his manoir in Ledôme. But to her, it was everything.

It would change everything.

The wind picked up, howling through the stalls and biting viciously at Chatine’s skin. She pulled her tattered black coat tighter around her, trying in vain to stave off the chill. But the holes and ripped lining of her clothes weren’t the problem. It was the hunger—the ribs poking through her skin. There wasn’t a single shred of insulation left on her body.

But after that score, she was finding it hard to care.

As Chatine headed toward the south exit of the Marsh, weaving through stalls selling moldy potatoes, slimy leeks, and pungent seaweed dragged in from the nearby docks, there was a new lightness to her gait. A new hopefulness in her step.

But just before passing through what used to be the old cargo ship’s loading bay, Chatine felt a large hand clamp down on her shoulder and she stopped dead in her tracks, a shiver running through her.

“So nice of you to help out a member of the Second Estate,” a cold, robotic voice said. “I’ve never seen such chivalry from a Renard.”

The emphasis he placed on her last name made Chatine squirm. She closed her eyes, mustering strength, and painted on a blithe smile before slowly turning around.

“Inspecteur Limier,” she said. “Always a pleasure.”

His stony expression didn’t change. It hardly ever did. The circuitry implants on the left side of his face made it nearly impossible for the inspecteur to express any emotion. Chatine often wondered if the man was even capable of smiling.

“I wish I could say the same for you, Théo.” His tone was flat.

Only her parents called her Chatine. Everyone in the Frets knew her as Théo. It was the name she’d given herself ten years ago, when they’d first moved to the capital city of Vallonay and Chatine had decided that life as a boy would be much less complicated than life as a girl.

Chatine clucked her tongue. “I’m sorry you feel that way, Inspecteur.”

“What did you take from the kind monsieur?” Limier asked, his half-human, half-robot voice clicking on the hard consonants.

Chatine refreshed her smile. “Whatever do you mean, Inspecteur? I know better than to steal from the hand that feeds me.”

She nearly gagged on the words. But if they saved her from a one-way ticket to Bastille—the price you paid for stealing from an upper estate—then she could choke her way through them.

Chatine held her breath as the inspecteur’s circuitry flickered on his face. He was computing the information, analyzing her words, searching for hints of perjury. Over the past ten years of living in the Frets, Chatine had learned how to lie. But lying to a human being was one thing. Lying to a cyborg inspecteur, programmed to seek the truth, was quite another.

She waited, keeping her smile taut until the circuits stopped flashing.

“Will that be all, Inspecteur?” Chatine asked, smiling sweetly while pressing her hands against her tattered black pants. Her palms were starting to sweat, and she didn’t want his heat sensors to pick up on it.

Then, slowly, Chatine watched the inspecteur’s gloved hand extend toward her. With a soft touch that chilled her to the bone, he pushed up her black hood to reveal more of her face. His electric orange eye blinked to life, scanning her features. It seemed to linger a beat too long on her high, feminine cheekbones.

Panic bloomed in her chest. Can it see who I really am?

Chatine hastily took a step back, out of the inspecteur’s reach, and yanked her hood back down. “My maman is expecting me home,” she said. “So, if you don’t mind, I’ll be going now.”

“Of course,” the inspecteur replied.

“Thank you, Inspecteur. Vive Laterre.”

As Chatine turned to leave, she felt her entire body collapse with relief. She had done it. She had fooled his sensors. She was a better liar than even she had come to believe.

“I’ll just need to check your pockets first.”

Chatine froze. She quickly surveyed her surroundings. She spotted five Policier droids in her vicinity. More than usually roamed the Marsh, due to the annual Ascension ceremony today. The droids—or bashers, as they were referred to around here—stood at almost twice the size of an average man, and their slate-gray exoskeletons crunched and whirred as they walked.

Chatine wasn’t afraid of them, though. She’d escaped Policier droids plenty of times. They were fast and stronger than ten men, but they still had their limitations. For instance, they couldn’t climb.

Careful not to move her head, Chatine glanced up, thanking her lucky Sols that there was an old pipe running directly over her head. She refused to get flown off to Bastille. A neighbor was currently serving three years for stealing a measly sac of turnips. A First World relic lifted off a Second Estater? She’d be looking at ten years minimum. And hardly anyone lived that long on the moon.

She slowly spun back around to face Limier. “Of course, Inspecteur. I have nothing to hide.”

Flashing another smile, Chatine stuffed her hand into her pocket and felt the medallion cool and smooth against her skin. The inspecteur once again reached a hand in her direction. Then, before he could react, Chatine hurled the apricot the monsieur had given her straight at the inspecteur’s face. His circuitry sparked as his brain tried to make sense of the incoming object. Chatine bolted, scrambling onto a table full of fabric scraps before leaping toward the pipe.

For a second, she was flying, soaring above the inspecteur, the shoppers in the Marsh, and the Policier droids who were just starting to take notice of the disturbance. As she caught the pipe, she used her momentum to circle her legs around until she was straddling the rusty metal pole.

“Paralyze him!” Inspecteur Limier shouted to his droids, peering up at Chatine. His circuitry was going haywire, like someone had hacked the signal. “Now!”

The bashers maneuvered their bulky PermaSteel bodies around one another, assembling into attack formation. Chatine knew she had to move quickly. One rayonette pulse she could dodge, but five? That would be rough.

The pipe was too narrow to walk on, so Chatine shimmied across it on her stomach, weighing her options. The north exit was out of the question. It backed up to the Vallonay Policier Precinct, where she would certainly run into more droids. There was a catwalk about three mètres ahead of her. If she could reach it without getting shot, she could crawl the rest of the way to the east exit, back near Madame Dufour’s stall.

A split second later, she felt the heat of the first rayonette pulse whizz by the side of her face. She sucked in a sharp breath and shimmied faster. A second droid took aim below her, its shot perfectly aligned at her left knee. She braced herself for the impact. But just then, a group of drunk exploit workers stumbled through the fray, arguing about who among them had the most Ascension points stored up. One of them crashed right into the droid, and the pulse barely missed her leg.

“Oh, excuse me, monsieur,” the drunk worker slurred to the droid, bowing ceremoniously. His friends broke out into hoots of laughter while Chatine took the opportunity to slide the rest of the way across the rusted pipe.

Thank the Sols for strong weed wine, she thought as she launched herself toward the catwalk. She caught the railing with both hands just as a third pulse was fired from below. This one glanced her left shoulder.

It wasn’t a direct hit, but it was enough. The pain was instant. Like someone had scraped her skin with a blazing-hot knife. She bit her lip to keep from crying out. The sound would only improve the droids’ aim.

Within seconds, her left arm started to lose sensation from the paralyzeur now pumping through her blood. She scrambled to swing her feet up over the ledge of the walkway but was unsuccessful. Now she was just dangling there, her feet paddling against the air.

The droids shoved people aside as they zeroed in on her location. More rayonette pulses tore past her, rippling and bending the air. It was only a matter of time before another one found its target.

Chatine knew she needed a distraction. She spotted a crate packed with chickens directly in front of her. She shook out her left arm, trying to chase away the numbness that was spreading toward her fingers, but it was no use. The paralyzeur was quickly working its way through her muscles.

Favoring her right hand, she gripped the railing as tightly as she could and pumped her legs until she’d built up enough momentum to reach the crate. She arched her body and kicked her legs out hard. The crate crashed to the ground and busted open. The chickens squawked and tried to fly away, but their useless wings barely allowed them to get off the ground.

The commotion was enough, though.

People were screaming, the stall owner was desperately trying to wrangle the loose birds, and the Policier droids fought to barrel through it all. But their efforts only managed to rile up the birds even more. They fluttered about, scraping people with their sharp claws.

The droids started firing with abandon. But with all the chaos below, their aim was poor. They hit more chickens than anything else. The birds absorbed the stun of the rayonettes and fell limp to the ground. They wouldn’t be able to move again for a few hours.

With the droids distracted, Chatine was finally able to pull herself onto the catwalk and crawl, one-handed, across the rusty metal plank before shimmying down a support beam next to Madame Dufour’s stall.

She glanced back to see the bashers still trying to push their way through the crowd to reach her. But with the number of people in the Marsh today and the riled-up chickens, it wasn’t an easy task.

Madame Dufour glared at Chatine, her wrinkled arms folded across her chest. “Like father, like son,” she said, making a tsk sound with her teeth. “Mark my words, boy, you’ll be rotting on the moon before the end of this year.”

Chatine flashed her a goading grin before swiping a loaf of chou bread from one of Madame Dufour’s crates and darting toward the exit.

“Arrête!” The old woman’s command sounded like a croak. “Get back here, you wretched croc!”

“Thanks for breakfast!” Chatine called back in a singsong voice.

And then, before the droids could track her or Madame Dufour could catch her, Chatine was gone.

Once she’d put a good distance between herself and the marketplace, she slowed to a walk and massaged her dead arm with the opposite hand. It wasn’t the first time she’d been shot by a rayonette. And it probably wouldn’t be the last. The sensation would return soon enough.

Chatine reached into her pocket and pulled out the pendant she had lifted from the Second Estater. She sucked off the sweet apricot juice and held the medallion in her open palm, studying it. For the first time, Chatine noticed the ornate golden Sol carved into the surface. It was unlike any of the three Sols that hung in the sky of the System Divine. This was a First World Sol. Its brilliant, fiery rays flared out to the edge of the medallion. Chatine reverently clasped the pendant around her neck, a rare genuine smile creeping across her face.

She hadn’t seen the light of a Sol in nine years.

This was definitely a sign of good things to come.

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Sky Without Stars 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Amy Smith Carman 8 months ago
Title: Sky Without Stars Author: Jessica Brody Pages: 592 Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Retelling Series or Stand-Alone: Book 1 of System Divine Series Stars: 4.5/5 Bechdel Test? (Depiction of Women): Yes Trigger Warning: Some violence I received a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Sky without Stars is a fantastic retelling of Les Misérables! Several centuries in the future, revolution looms on the French planet of Laterre as the rich rule for themselves and the poor attempt to eke out livings on the rainy planet. Though the art of reading has been lost, a repeat of the French Revolution is in the works. We follow three different characters from different backgrounds as they attempt to live through the impending revolution. Book 1 only tells the first portion of Les Misérables. I’m assuming the remaining books in the series will continue on. Likes: I love how creative the world of Laterre is! We have all the best of futuristic sci-fi, with robots, spaceships, and cyborgs. It reminded me of the Lunar Chronicles in many places. Recommendations: For YA and up who like fantasy and sci-fi.
JillJemmett More than 1 year ago
This new YA series follows the new trend in YA Fantasy books which have French settings. I really like these settings, because most of the cities are lavish and extravagant, but they also have secret societies and criminals. The story followed three characters: Chatine, Marcellus, and Alouette. They all come from different levels in society, but they become mixed up in each other’s lives. Since there were three different perspectives, the different areas that they come from were explored, giving a complete image of the world they live in. This story is a retelling of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I also love adaptations. However, I’ve never read or watched Les Misérables, so this story was very new to me. I read a graphic novel adaptation last year, so I know the general story, but this story is a unique take on the original. I really liked how it was adapted to a futuristic setting on a different planet. There were lots of twists that kept me guessing throughout the story. The ending was so good. Each character’s story had a bit of a cliffhanger, which made me wonder what was going to happen next. I can’t wait to read the next book when it comes out! I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a huge, huge Les Misérables fan, this book was such a relief compared to the other retellings I've read. Sky Without Stars takes the plot of Les Mis and hurls it into space. Literally. Weirdly enough, the drastic changes in setting, plot, and character Sky Without Stars made to Les Mis was what made me enjoy it so much more--I wasn't hung up on all the inaccuracies and deviations; I was just interested how the characters of Éponine, Cosette, and Marius translated to Chatine, Alouette, and Marcellus, and excited to find out what happened next. I definitely feel like the authors are Éponine fans because Chatine was the centre of the book. I definitely liked Chatine, and her portrayal is so much closer to the Brick's than the musical's was. Chatine is hardened and desperate for an escape from the planet of Laterre, and she's so badass. Chatine knows what she wants and how she's going to get it, except when it comes to Marcellus - which is pretty much how she is in the original book. I admit her behaviour annoyed me sometimes with her "not like other girls" attitude and how much she hated Alouette for most of the book. I was shocked when Chatine called Alouette a "bimbo," because, uh, COME ON? I don't think even book!Éponine was that hateful towards Cosette. And I wish that Chatine's internalized misogyny was addressed more. With Marcellus, I was really interested in how his storyline was based on his relationship with his grandfather, which is fairly accurate to the book. Marius finds out secrets about his father and splits with Gillenormand because of political differences, which is more or less what happens with Marcellus and General Bonnefaçon. I'm not sure how I feel about Marcellus's characterization--I think if I wasn't comparing him to Marius, I would have enjoyed Marcellus's character a lot more. Marcellus was so well-developed and I really liked him. Alouette was actually my favourite, which makes sense, because I adore Cosette. Alouette was inquisitive and intelligent and confident in herself, which is basically everything I love in a good Cosette characterization. I also loved her father a lot and how the whole story of Les Misérables was incorporated into this book, because so many retellings focused on 1832-era characters tend to leave out Fantine, Valjean, and Javert. Alouette and Hugo's relationship was precious and endearing, but Alouette is definitely struggling for more independence and answers. And the authors kept Cosette's nickname as "Little Lark," which made me so happy. It really shows attention to detail to the original book. Both Alouette and Chatine's characters didn't change much from the original Brick, which I really loved - Hugo's women are, generally, so fully fleshed-out, autonomous characters, that there doesn't need to be a lot of modernizing. One of the new additions to the story of Les Mis was the Vangarde. I suppose in some ways it could be compared to Les Amis de l'ABC, but I didn't see it; the Vangarde is an entirely new identity. It was fascinating to have something new to figure out, especially since a lot of the plot twists were lost on me because I know the original book so well. However, I really wanted to see Les Amis de l'ABC. I hope they'll make an appearance in the next book, because they're some of my favourite characters--I would absolutely love for them to be women, and this book has such potential to put Les Amis in as an all-girl revolutionary team. I was really glad for some of
BookwormBekah More than 1 year ago
Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell's Sky Without Stars perfectly blends Victor Hugo's classic Les Misérables and Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles, creating a multi-faceted space saga. Brody and Rendell pay homage to Hugo by integrating character names and certain plot points. However, this novel can be enjoyed without being familiar with Les Misérables.
Instead of being in France, we are on the planet Laterre, which is French Colony. On Laterre, the lower class or the Third Estate is kept away from the climate-controlled bubble where the First Estate live, which mirrors the disconnect the people of Paris felt when it came to their royalty living at Versailles during the late 1700s.
Sky Without Stars is divided into six parts that fit together thematically, following the lives of three very different people: Chatine, Marcellus, and Aoulette. Through Chatine's eyes we explore life lived in the Third Estate, the daily struggles they face just to get by, and how, for her, that involves playing the part of Theo. Marcellus shows us how the First and Second Estate lives, and his personal struggles between trying to live up to his grandfather's expectations and being the son of a dead traitor. Finally, sheltered Aoulette provides insight on life outside of the government, and we discover, along with her, all the secrets of the past and what life is really like in the world above her head. When their lives suddenly crash together, everything changes.
Brody and Rendell's writing creates a dark view on the world, but not one without any light or hope. I anticipate more awful things happening (because of the source material), but the tone isn't bleak. There is excitement and energy that intermingles with despair. Emotions and confusion, the need to better oneself, and political machinations drive the plot at an easy pace. Information is slowly revealed, making the revelations more impact-full.
Taking a novel the size and scope of Les Misérables and making it into a space saga is no easy task, yet Brody and Rendell's Sky Without Stars accomplishes that task with grace. I loved how this novel was executed. I loved seeing how Brody and Rendell introduced familiar elements of Les Misérables, such as the character Prisoner 24601. I'm also interested to see how the love triangle of Marcellus, Aoulette and Chatine pans out since their dynamic is so different (and yet so similar). Overall, I adored this novel and give it a 4.5/5 stars. I anxiously await the next installment. Also, thank you NetGalley for sending me an ARC!
COBauer More than 1 year ago
I knew I was going to love this book from the very first moment Jessica Brody said these 4 words to me: “Les Mis… In Space.” Oh. My. GOD! They did NOT disappoint!!! SKY WITHOUT STARS by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell is a spectacular retelling of one of my favorite stories. I truly loved everything about this book! It was totally on point—from the three powerful voices of their leading players, to the incredibly vivid descriptions and world-building. I was completely enthralled from page one. Don’t let the long page count intimidate you! I hardly noticed it thanks to excellent pacing. Part 1 takes off as we’re almost immediately thrown into the rumblings of a world primed for revolution. We’re given a few paces to breathe and reflect before we’re thrust into a race to a finale full of twists and turns. You’ve been warned: there’s a KILLER cliffhanger that will leave you desperate to get your hands on the next book in the series! What really impressed me was the authors’ abilities to craft two very strong and unique female leads—particularly when it came to the character of Alouette (Cosette). Most Les Miz fans will agree that Cosette tends to be a major throwaway character. She is passive, flat, and one-dimensional. Her sole purpose is to prompt positive action from the two male leads. Even Eponine to some degree is primarily driven by her secret love for Marius… I was 100% ready to HATE Alouette. Particularly since I grew up LOVING Chatine (Eponine) and I even played the role of Eponine. I had to fight some deeply rooted bias as I read this book. Honestly, I was blown away. They managed to make Alouette a total bad-ass and they finally gave a character I couldn’t have cared less about real depth and dimension. I was surprised to find myself rooting for her by the end of the book! Well. Done. So, if you’re looking for a compelling new YA Sci-Fi series—then you MUST give SKY WITHOUT STARS a read! 5 BRIGHTLY BURNING SOLS! Note: I received a complimentary advanced copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
BecLibrarian More than 1 year ago
This is a YA space Sci-Fi that is a reimagined and futuristic take on Les Miserables. Let’s just appreciate that strange meshing of worlds for a moment. Overall, I enjoyed this novel, including the multiple POVs and the fascinating world/universe. Occasionally, it felt a big sluggish, and I think in this instance, the story would be better if it was tighter and the pacing faster. Probably the 3 POVs ended up slowing the story down, though I found them quite interesting and necessary to showing the depth of the world. This story is also a bit rambling at times, and I did zone out occasionally and have to force myself to refocus. It’s occasionally guilty of throwing too many unnecessary details at you at once, which becomes too much to absorb, but then it recovers pretty quickly. In addition, the plot lingers at times, when it should just press forward, so instead of an action-packed adventure, it sometimes feels like more of a character study. Despite some of those issues, I enjoyed the character building and growth, though with a novel of this size, I do wish it had run even a bit deeper than it does. I’m happy this is a series, because I think this is a good step in the right direction, and I’m curious to see what comes next. I remain very hopeful that this is one of those series where the first book is busy laying the groundwork, but it’s the later books that make you love the world beyond compare. OTHER FUN PERKS: ---the French influences ---the wildly different worldviews of the 3 POVs ---the social hierarchy WOULD LOVE TO SEE IN THE FUTURE NOVELS: ---more diversity ---more twists and surprises ---more complex relationships between characters This is a great pick for YA Sci-Fi and fantasy fans, as well as for those that like unique retellings/reimaginings, and/or multiple POVs. Pages: 592
ShesGoingBookCrazy More than 1 year ago
Les Miserables is a massive book. It’s an even larger task to unpack everything within its text. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to try and create a retelling of this classical tale. Yet, authors Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell did it. And, they did a heck of a job at it! Just to emphasize their accomplishment a bit further---they wrote a retelling of one of the most iconic classical tales, and set it in space, while still keeping true to the original story. You guys, I won’t be able to get over this book for a while. Thank goodness it’s a part of a series, so I don’t have to completely die...yet...from book hangover! Probably one of the biggest issues I have with the Young Adult genre is that there isn’t an overabundance of quality writing. You know, like with actual world building, setting description, and, for the love of all things good, further rendering of a character beyond their hair and eye color! The characters of Sky Without Stars are made of flesh and bone, sinew and blood. They have personalities with depth and harbor layers of emotion. The best part about these characters is that nothing is easy. Each and every character has a life full of raw, merciless experience---a true reflection of what Les Miserables aims to portray. I just want to say that this book has been compared to The Lunar Chronicles. Yes, there are some similarities---limited to the fact that this is a retelling set in space. That’s where the line ends. This book surpasses The Lunar Chronicles by far in every aspect, but especially in overall quality, character development, and plot ingenuity. This is one of the best Young Adult books that I’ve read in a long time, as well as a new favorite, for certain. I can’t wait to read the sequel, which I hope is coming sooner than later! Vulgarity: Minimal. Sexual content: Minimal. Violence: Quite a bit.
thegeekishbrunette More than 1 year ago
Laterre promised a place for those to live during the Last Days. It became home to a wealthy French family and their descendants. Now that 500 years has gone by, an elite class reigns and a rebel group is ready to take action. Alouette, Chatine, and Marcellus each come from different backgrounds and will have a huge role to play in this revolution. When it comes to the characters, Alouette, Chatine, and Marcellus have their own point of views when it comes to the chapters. It was interesting to see the story unfold through different sets of eyes. It adds a bit to the story and gives the characters a bit more depth. Marcellus is a part of the regime and after awhile he begins to question what they are doing. I like characters like this because its so easy to fall into a group or just take someone’s word without questioning any of it. It’s always good to question because that is how we grow. Unfortunately, it was still quite hard to have a connection with the other characters and even Marcellus at times. The plot is a retelling of Les Miserable but set in space which is a unique take on the story. It is full of cool sci-fi stuff, like robots which gives this retelling more of an updated feel. Without having read Les Miserable, it is easy to understand the revolution that is taking place. Usually sci-fi keeps me intrigued but the plot was not grasping my attention and it was hard to continuously read through this book. Overall, this just wasn’t a book for me. I managed to get through it but it never had a grab affect on me. It was neither good nor bad and I am sure others will absolutely love this book especially if they are a fan of Les Miserable. (I received a digital copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.)
Lisa_Loves_Literature More than 1 year ago
If you've followed me for awhile, you know that I'm always up for a retelling, especially when it is one like this, a major classic story, Les Miserables. This book did not disappoint in that aspect. Sky Without Stars is definitely a sweeping epic of a story. Even set in space on another planet, in another solar system, it has the operatic feel of Les Miserables. As I read I definitely tried to match up characters with what I knew of that classic, since I'd only seen the movie and never read the book. This world was one that had a lot of things going on that seemed kind of counter-intuitive to a future society. Because while they had screens built into their arms, no one knew how to actually read words anymore. It was all pictures and people actually speaking. That in itself hurt my heart so much! But it helped to make the poor third class people really appear to be down below everyone. I loved that they had brought their French customs and names of things like the Bastille along with them. It did end on a cliffhanger, and at such a long book, almost 600 pages, I can only imagine how much we have left to this story when the next book comes out. A great story for both science fiction readers, as well as deep classic types of storytelling lovers.