Thursday, 21 April 2016

Review: Chasing The Stars

Chasing The Stars
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

What happens when love brings loss? When love brings lies? When love brings hate?

Olivia and her twin brother Aidan are heading alone back to Earth 
following the virus that wiped out the rest of their crew, and their family, in its entirety. 

Nathan is part of a community heading in the opposite direction. 
But on their journey, Nathan’s ship is attacked and most of the community killed.
Only a few survive.

Their lives unexpectedly collided, Nathan and Olivia are instantly attracted to each other, deeply, head-over-heels – like nothing they have ever experienced.

But not everyone is pleased. Surrounded by rumours, deception, even murder, is it possible to live out a happy ever after . . . ?

I am a HUGE Malorie Blackman fan, and not just because she sent all of us booksellers Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes that one year! I remember reading Noughts and Crosses back when I was at school, and it's one of my favourite books, and I remember waiting for each new book to come out with baited breath! It was a given that I was going to read her latest book, but I mean....Shakespeare in space!? Blackman's book is begging to be read for that alone! I will admit, I've been in a near book slump so I actually picked this up the other week and kind of went to read it but wasn't really in the mood! I've spent the last week reading graphic novels and manga, this is actually the first book I've picked up since then! 

Once I started reading Chasing The Stars, I got more and more hooked until I couldn't put it down. Knowing Shakespeare and Othello and how it ends, I was waiting for all the bad things to happen, but the book actually surprised me with it's ending, it wasn't what I was expecting, I was expecting a lot more death! The ending is also my one thing with this book but more on that later! 

The story is told from two points of view, Vee and Nathan. In the beginning, Nathan's is the more action filled POV, it's the one that drew me in and there's hints of the "Authority" and the negative connotations of it, and the tensions with the Mazon. Vee's point of view gives a different opinion on the Authority so it was interesting to see the differing thoughts they had on certain things. Especially when it's revealed what Nathan is and how Vee reacts to it, realising everything she's been taught is wrong. Anyway, both POV's are different, they have a different way of talking or thinking and you can tell who it is who's narrating, but there's two different fonts as well which was a nice touch I thought, as it showed they where different! 

Chasing the Stars is snappy and fast paced and the plot pulls you in more and more. You have the action filled beginning with the escape from the Mazon, then you have the murders on board which adds a nice mystery element to it, along with the romance and the drama from that. There really is never a dull moment in this book and I'm glad I read it in one go because I'd struggle to find a place to put it down! The pacing is literally perfect and it ramps up as we near the climax of the book! The combination of sci-fi elements, action, romance and fight scenes is brilliant! I'm not usually one for sci-fi but I can't imagine this book working any other way. The whole murder mystery element works so well because of how claustrophobic the spaceship is! 

Character-wise I loved Vee, and I really felt for her. She's been through so much, and you can't really blame her for thinking the worst at some points, and reacting how she does. Especially when it's her brother telling her things. I thought she was courageous, brave and determined to help the others even though for the majority of the time, hardly any of them appreciated it. I loved Vee and Aidan's banter and relationship, but as the book went on Aidan took a sinister turn. Something weird was definitely going on with him and he became very manipulative and unpleasant, but at the end of it all, I felt for him too and there as a completely heartbreaking scene or two involving the two of them! 

I really liked Nathan as well, he made me laugh as did his banter with Vee! They really where hilarious together. Nathan was funny, he was trying to be the peacemaker between everyone at a few points, I would say he's intelligent but his behaviour towards the end negates that in my opinion! Nathan takes a rather bad turn when he becomes the world's biggest prat. The thing is...I understand where he is coming from just as much as I understand where Vee is coming from, the thing is...Nathan doesn't understand where Vee is coming from at all. He refuses to see her side of things, even when his mum has a word with him! Vee's brother was all she had for so long so of course she's going to trust him and things did look pretty bad and Nathan wasn't helping much with his behaviour but he refuses to acknowledge all of that! Much as I loved his character, he annoyed me so much at the end! DAMN YOU NATHAN. 

"Nathan, my hand is itching to give you an attitude adjustment slap"

Same Catherine, same! Speaking of Catherine, she's Nathan's mum and I'm not going to lie to you all, I thought she was a bit of a cow in the beginning. What she tried to do to Vee and everything after and the atmosphere of the book kept me a little bit distrustful of her to be honest. There was one point when I was like...oh wow what if her being nice was all just an act!? But I actually ended up quite liking Catherine, she started to trust Vee, she gave Vee a pep talk when she needed it and reminded her that she could do this and all of that, and I liked those moments between them when she refused to let Vee give up. I was wary of her for a while but I still liked her and then as we got near the end you really got a feel for what her character is normally like without all the stuff going on that she has to deal with. Almost like a surrogate mum to Vee towards the end! 

There are plenty of other brilliant characters in the book that you both love and hate. I wasn't too sure of Erica because I wasn't sure what she was up to, I loved Mike and Anjuli even if I then was wary of Anjuli at one point! Her and Mike where funny and such great characters and so willing from the beginning to get to know Vee and become her friends. Darren I hated, he was a complete a-hole. Like in the beginning I got what his problem was and why he was upset but then he still continued to blame Vee even though it wasn't her fault and he continued to be a really horrible character right up until the end. He consistently tries to undermine Vee at every turn, blames her for everything and keeps calling her a child and saying she doesn't know what she's doing. I really wanted to smack him one and I did cheer a little bit when he got his comeuppance! 

I've mentioned the atmosphere of the book a lot because it's something really palpable as you're reading. You're with the characters on this spaceship, which I'm imaging to be really claustrophobic once you've been on there for a while! Once these murders start to happen the distrust gets more and more palpable, you start to become suspicious of all the characters and unsure of their motives and you lose all trust right along with Vee and Nathan. It certainly makes reading the book an experience as you try to work out who to trust! You can feel the conflict brewing as you read, especially with characters like Darren stirring things up. It's a very negative environment as the book goes on! I mean, I just loved how Vee saved everyone and then they're all trying to take over the ship and take it from her! That's the other thing, the book makes you feel as you imagine the characters to feel, angry at the way they're being treated, and at other's behaviour, sad at other points and so on. 

The romance I need to talk about because we all know I don't like the whole insta-love thing, and there's the whole love at first sight thing in this book. Now I think it would have bothered me a lot more than it did if Vee wasn't questioning it and her feelings at points, not being sure if the feelings where real or just proximity or whatever the line was! Her doing that made me feel like the romance wasn't as ridiculous and unbelievable as most insta-love situations in books! That and the book is based on Othello a Shakespeare play and he does love a bit of insta-love! SO I rolled with it in other words, and ended up liking the romance a lot more than I would have under normal circumstances! That and the fact that once the romance really gets going it's not all sunshine and rainbows and happy ever afters, there's obstacles to overcome, there's drama and angst and it made the romance a lot more believable than it would normally be! I mean, as much as the ending bothers me, it fits with what you imagine the reality would be of a love at first sight situation and the situation the characters are in! 

I'm sure you all know that Chasing The Stars is based on Othello, and I'm sure some of you are wondering just how similar it is so I'm going to try to help you out briefly! First off, my knowledge of Othello is very vague, we never studied it at school we did Romeo and Juliet instead! I have read Othello on my own, but it's been a while shall we say! I need to re-read! From what I'm aware of, Blackman has twisted some of the things from the play as only she can! I feel like Aidan is Iago to an extent, there's a scene where Aidan refuses to answer after everything goes down and I'm 99% sure that's Iago in one scene in the play! Nathan and Vee are obviously Othello and Desdemona, there's changes to what happens though! They're switched around he's accused of the thing instead of her like in the play, and there's a lot less death than in the play, I mean knowing how it ends I was expecting death at the end of the book which is why I was so surprised with the ending! It's not a happy ever after ending, but it wasn't as death and despair as I was expecting. 

Chasing the Stars has plenty of emotion to hit you with, it has it's funny scenes, tense scenes, and heart breaking scenes. I mean...I choked up once or twice reading this and couldn't believe my eyes at other points, there where plenty of plot twists! It got closer and closer to the end and I really didn't want it to end, and I was surprised right up until the end! 

The ending we need to talk about because I mentioned it was one of the things I wasn't happy with. The thing is....I'm in two minds about it! I mean on the one hand it's kind of perfect, with Vee flying off in to the sunset and the surprise crew that joins her, I mean that scene gave me the warm and fuzzies! But at the same time I was left a little unsatisfied on the romance front, there was no solid ending there. I'm a bit fickle with open endings, sometimes I love them and sometimes I don't, it depends on the book, and in this case I really wasn't down for the open ending! I NEED to know what happens to Vee and Nathan next, it's driving me up the wall! Nathan was the worlds biggest prat and like Vee I had hope right up until it became obvious he wasn't coming. I mean he sent the thing but still. 

So yeah, I'm so torn about the ending it's not even funny! The book is completely brilliant but that ending is just driving me mad! I'm also not entirely sure if there is going to be a sequel, and if there is going to be a it going to be a continuation of Vee and Nathan's story or will it be other characters that aren't anything to do with them!? Will we get to see what happens with the two of them if there's another book that's set in the universe but not with them!? These are the questions I need answered! I'm really hoping for a second book with Vee and Nathan, not just for the romance issues to be resolved, but because of what Vee's going to be getting up to! I got such Han Solo vibes off her at the end! I actually daydream a lot about Vee's new life and her goals, not going to lie, because I'm thinking she's going to be doing some awesome things! 

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