A single, intertwined destiny
Maris Hall’s name isn’t spoken. Her writings were burned. Her images erased because of the horrendous thing she did. As a third-generation inhabitant of the red desert planet Erimost, Tessa Hall ironically knows precious little about her own family history, despite being the city historian.
When she discovers the journal of her grandmother, the first historian, she slowly comes to realize that the secrets of the past might be the key to saving the present. It speaks of aliens who feed on stories and devastating famines. Are the contents true or simply the ramblings of a madwoman?
Mysteriously cut off from communication with the home planet decades prior and with a limited supply of the medicine that helps them tolerate the harsh environment, the people of Erimost are in a precarious position. In a race to understand herself and the planet she’s always despised, what secrets will Tessa uncover?
I received this book for free from the author/publisher. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Starlight Seized was so much more than I thought it would be. I rarely read science fiction, space-themed books, so that aspect alone was out of the ordinary for me. But beyond that, I was also thoroughly intrigued by the format of the novel itself, which was told through journal entries written by the main characters. Author China Dennington created an entirely new world with distinctive physical characteristics, a unique way of life, and even its own calendar with delightful names for the months (I’m a sucker for made-up names, so I loved that bit)!
There was so much that I enjoyed about this book, including how relatable the characters were. Despite the fact that I have yet to establish life on a new planet (minor detail), in so many ways I’ve felt just like Maris Hall, exploring new places in the world and trying to make impossible decisions for the good of everyone. She was quirky, thoughtful, quick-witted, and intelligent, and she had a love for words that was completely befitting of her role as historian on Erimost. Her adventures with Chance and Cyrus sucked me in and kept me coming back for more!
Quote I loved: “Fact and emotion are always intertwined, seemingly stretching away from each other, but only with both can you see the entire picture. Emotion without fact is difficult to temper. Fact without emotion is the food of a society that desperately wants to avoid its own humanity. Neither extreme is good and both have the potential to lead to violence.”
Both her love of words and her career as historian were passed down through the generations to Tessa Hall. Tessa’s endlessly inquisitive mind and her passion for discovering the truth of her people’s history was contagious, so much so that I found myself sitting in church wondering “what’s going to happen next?” instead of listening to the sermon! Through betrayal and loss, Tessa remained hopeful and continued to seek out answers to questions most people were too afraid to ask. Because of their depth and emotional vulnerability, Tessa, Maris, and their respective friends and family made up a cast of characters that I couldn’t help loving from page one (excluding Senator Rudolph, of course)!
Overall, this book was original and did a great job of communicating the value of words and personal expression. However, while the characters of the later generation described Maris’s writing as being rather awe-striking, I personally found that it fell short in that area and the author could have done more to fancy it up. Also, in the beginning, Tessa’s disdain for having her creativity stifled was a bit too repetitive for my liking. Nevertheless, the book as a whole encouraged me, as the reader, to go out and seize my own bit of starlight and I think it will do the same for you!
Content Warning: Brief violence