Book Review: Starglass by Phoebe North

Posted August 22, 2013 by Kara in book review, Kara / 18 Comments

Book Review: Starglass by Phoebe NorthStarglass by Phoebe North
Series: Starglass #1
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers on July 23rd, 2014
Genres: dystopia, science fiction, young adult
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

In this futuristic, outer space thriller, Terra has to decide between supporting the rebellion she believes in—and saving the life of the boy she loves.For generations, those aboard the Asherah have lived within strict rules meant to help them survive the journey from a doomed Earth to their promised land, the planet Zehava–which may or may not be habitable, a question whose imperative grows now, in the dwindling months before touchdown. Sixteen-year-old Terra’s situation is tough. A dead mom. A grieving dad. A bitchy boss, and a betrothed who won’t kiss her no matter how bad she wants it. She’s doing her best to stay afloat, even when she gets assigned a vocation she has no interest in: botany. But after Terra witnesses the Captain’s guard murder an innocent man, she’s drawn into a secret rebellion bent on restoring power to the people. The stakes are higher than anything she could have imagined. When the rebellion gives Terra an all-important mission, she has to decide where her loyalties lie for once and for all. Because she has started to fall for the boy she’s been sent to assassinate…

Oh gosh, y’all. I hate so much that I didn’t enjoy Starglass as much as I wanted to. I was really looking forward to this one and I was so ecstatic when I got approved for an ARC. But…it just didn’t work for me, and I am not excited about telling you why, but I must, and so here we go. But first, as always, I want to talk about the good things.

I didn’t mind the writing in the book, even if I didn’t think it was particularly special. It flowed well and I thought there was a nice mix of description, imagery, and dialogue. The characters were developed well even if I didn’t really like them. I also have to applaud the author for including a lot of diversity and the positive way she handled some pretty serious topics and current issues in our world today. The entire population of the Asherah was of Jewish descent, and there were citizens that were GLBT as well, which I thought was really wonderful. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t connect to the characters. I didn’t connect to the story. And that to me, was a complete failure. The pacing in this one was NOT good. It started out incredibly slowly and took a while to get going. I never felt that the plot was particularly riveting, and I never really felt invested in what I was reading. It’s not a page turner, unfortunately, and it didn’t excite me the way I was hoping it would. I think that in some ways it might get compared to Across the Universe by Beth Revis, which I quite liked, and I don’t think Starglass was written with the same amount of skill.

I’m going to get into the plot a little bit so I can explain where I felt it was flawed, but I will try to avoid spoilers. The main disconnect for me started when I found out about the resistance against the Council. At that point in the book, I did not see the Council as bad or negative so I needed a clearer picture as to why there was such a strong anti-government sentiment among so many of the citizens. It came later, but I felt it should have come much sooner. In a dystopia, for the citizen rebellion to work, the government has to be horrible. I just felt like this one was trying to save its people and rebuild society. The rules may have been a bit harsh, but I never felt they were awful until much later. And that did not last for very long. The Council was not evil, and though the book tried to convince me that it was, I felt like it failed on almost every level.

The other MAJOR issue I had was the main character, Terra. She was HORRIBLE. Mean and selfish. Shallow. A backstabber. And I was supposed to root for this girl. I can’t really talk about her actions without revealing spoilers, but you should just know that she’s one of the worst protagonists I have encountered in a while. She screwed over her friends a few times, hated her brother for leaving her with an abusive dad that didn’t even seem that abusive (telling me he was but not showing me), but when he came to her with worries that their father was suicidal, she blew him off. She just made stupid decisions over and over again. In the end, she tried to fix it, but it was far too late as I grew to hate her more and more as the book progressed towards its climax.

My final thoughts on Starglass: I did not get the ending I was hoping for, nor was it the ending I expected. Once again, I was let down by the conclusion of a book. There was just nothing that blew me away here. I was unable to suspend disbelief through most of the story, I couldn’t connect to the characters, and the book was poorly paced. I thought the world-building and diversity were excellent, but it was not enough for me to love the book. I’m sad that I cannot recommend this one.


18 responses to “Book Review: Starglass by Phoebe North

  1. Yeah, I totally get your review. I think I liked it more than you. I guess I understood that it wasn’t an action story so I just read it for what it was. But I agree, the ending was just weird and the rest of the book doesn’t prepare you for it at all. It does make me want to read the next book though!

  2. I only skimmed your review since I haven’t read this yet, Kara, but I did read a few chapters and think I’d feel similarly middling about it. I like what I’ve read just fine, but I don’t love it…yet.

    I’m sorry you were disappointed by it. Maybe her next book (whatever that is, if there is one) will work better for you.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  3. Amy

    Oh, man. Unlikable characters? I am a character reader, so that is the most important thing for me with a book. I don’t think I would love it if the characters are hard to connect to. Then at that point the story would have to be fantastic, which it seems this one is not. I am still interested in this book though, so maybe at some point I will try it and see if I like it. Great honest review hon!!

    • Thanks, Amy! I’m not a huge character reader but I can’t deal with characters I can’t relate to with on some level, or at least enjoy reading because I think they are redeemable in some way.

  4. I was really excited for this one initially like you but reading your review makes me sad. I’ve been having really shitty luck with my reads these past 3-4 months and well, the way you described the main character and how un-invested you felt with all the characters AND the plot really worries me. I NEED to have some connection to and MC and the plot at hand to enjoy a book, plain and simple. I’m still curious about it though, so I might check it out at some point but really the reviews I’ve read have been mixed so I’m not in any rush. Sorry this just didn’t work for you, especially considering how excited you were about it initially but thanks for your honesty ^^

    • Me too. I have had a really up and down couple of months but it seems to be on the upswing here. I wish the reviews were not mixed. I so wish this book had been a winner for me.

  5. Kara, I’ve seen several others complaining about the characters, specifically Terra in this one. I think I read one super-positive review of it awhile back but the rest have been really mixed, or negative. SUCH a bummer since the premise sounds awesome. And you know, it is SO hard to root for a character when you just flat out dislike them, so I can see your troubles with this one.

  6. Oh man, and I was really looking forward to this one as well! There are so few sci-fi YA novels and I really like sci-fi, so when I heard of this one I was like *adds to the TBR list*. But this crappy MC makes me very, very wary. A backstabber! Sounds freaking horrible :/ I do find though, that I can overlook some crappiness in the plot/characters if the world building is amazing, so I might still give it a try 🙂

  7. Hmmm, that’s interesting. I actually thought North’s writing was more skilled, but maybe I don’t remember Across the Universe all that well. I feel like we discussed this a lot on Twitter, but I no longer remember enough to leave an exciting comment, but I’ve already started so….


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