Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘The Girl and the Stars’ by Mark Lawrence, organised by Random Things Tours. I had wanted to read this book as soon as I heard that it was coming out, so I was delighted to have participate in this tour, and I hope that you will check out both the author and the book.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.’*
East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrown
On the vastness of the ice there is no room for individuals. No one survives alone.
To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is different.
Torn from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her life with, Yaz has to carve a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of danger.
Beneath the ice, Yaz will learn that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined.
She will learn that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she will learn to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.
Only when it’s darkest can you see the stars.
I have yet to read The Book of the Ancestor, which is set in the same world as this book, although Red Sister is sat on my shelf staring at me accusingly. However, that did not detract from my understanding, enjoyment and love for this new book (and has bumped the other series right up my TBR pile).
What a fantastic book.
To be honest, I am still unpacking everything that happened in the Girl and the Stars, and I feel that I probably will for a while. That is not a bad thing, as I love books that stay with me. That leaves me gnawing at the details, finding new aspects, and I suspect that I will be rereading this quite soon, chasing down those questions and answers.
However, I do know what I enjoyed about this book -admittedly most of it – but in particular, it was the worldbuilding that drew me into this book. I fell in love with the Ithca, and the icy world that tribe inhabited, and how it had shaped them and the tribes around them. The myth and history, the way survival had been built into their culture and even their relationships with one another. To the point, where adulthood hinged on being judged for your ability to survive, weaknesses – differences – setting you apart, marking you as impure, broken. Someone who had no place on the ice, because they would not survive. It was harsh, and from the beginning ‘The Pit of the Missing’ was there, in Yaz’s thoughts, in the conversations.
It became so much more.
I fell in love with the ice-covered world above, but it was what lay under the ice that truly made this book spectacular. Beneath the surface, Lawrence mapped out an entire world where past and present collided, trapped together, in an environment that was every bit as harsh as the ice above. Everything is still about survival, but of a different sort. Here being ‘broken’ is a strength, the differences that brought Yaz and the other characters to this place now the key to their survival, but the dangers are vastly different – from the Hunters to the Tainted (who I loved, because although they were the ‘bad’, it was far more complicated than that), to political and personal conflicts that could spell life and death. All of this wrapped into an oppressive atmosphere that was a threat in and of itself, the dark, the tunnels and the dangers that lay within all felt vividly real, and I found myself holding my breath more than once, expecting the threat to reach for me too.
In terms of the characters, Yaz was a fantastic protagonist, and following her from the beginning above the ice, before the fall into the world below and everything that followed, you can see how she develops and grows. How she questions everything, herself and her choices, the people around her, and even the world that she was raised to believe in. She isn’t perfect by any means – and there were times when I found myself annoyed not so much with her decisions, but with her distractions. At times, she seemed to drift, caught too much by the world around her rather than standing on her own two feet. Still, that is a minor complaint, because for the most part, I loved how she grew, how she redefined her world and what it was to be ‘broken’ and human, and learned to use that as a strength that was as strong as the magic she used.
That cast of characters around her was just as interesting and diverse, and there were twists and turns, developments that left me unable to look away for fear of missing a single moment. I was as invested in their stories, secrets and fate as I was Yaz, and I felt that each one added a different facet to the Broken, and to being human in a world where humanity itself can be a weakness.
The plot is fast-paced, and so much happened – twists and turns, secrets revealed, and more questions asked – that you couldn’t help but be swept along, and there were moments where I had to stop and go back because I had missed something. There is a lot in this book, and it was a journey, to say the least. A fantastic blending of worldbuilding, characters and action, with sci-fi elements woven seamlessly with the fantasy, and with so many threads leading on into the next book.
The Girl and the Stars blew me away from start to finish, and that ending has left me reeling and desperately in need of the second book. I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough. I don’t have the words to describe just how much I loved this book, and I know that I will be filling the time between now and then, catching up with Lawrence’s other books that I haven’t yet had time to get to.
About the Author:
Mark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Key and The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.
The Girl and the Stars (Book of Ice #1) – Mark Lawrence (Published by Harpervoyager 30th April 2020 ) – ***** (5/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.