Book Review: Spinning Starlight

Posted September 10, 2015 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 12 Comments

Book Review: Spinning StarlightSpinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 6th, 2015
Genres: young adult, science fiction, retellings
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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two-half-stars

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

Stitching Snow is one of my favorites reads for 2015. The story was charming, and I instantly became a fan of R.C. Lewis. When the second book was announced, my excitement could hardly be contained. What else could this teacher-writer hybrid give to us? More science-y girls? More cute, on-the-target humor? Another twisted story on a famous fairy tale? I was hooked from the start.

And this really hurt my feelings.

This wasn’t so much of a bad book. Spinning Starlight was a good idea that never matured enough to support the story line. The Little Mermaid attributes were there, and quite ingenious, but the characters ended up as a burden, the writing was sloppy, and the story depended on quite a bit of repetition to fill the pages.

I wanted to really like Liddi. There was the perfect formula for someone I could relate with – smarter siblings, forced coddling, fiercely protective of her family, and the plaything of the media. Her description was so appealing. But Liddi was hardly functional in the book. I cannot even say how many times she had to repeat her internal dialog about “saving her brothers”. It was mind numbing to be reminding of her end page on almost every page. And then her blatant species-ism. She always talks about the different types of furniture of the various life forms, and the items that were made for her own race were called “normal”. Normal is an arbitrary word, especially in science fiction. For a girl who was aligned to think like a scientist, Liddi was more of your garden variety humanoid, one who refused to believe that life forms can come in something other than a meatsack. The then ones that she accepted as “alive” were labeled with anything but “normal”. No, thanks, we deal with enough privileged in real life, I don’t particularly care to read about “humanoid privilege” that was never called out or addressed. As a sci-fi lover and a Trekkie, this was personally beyond appalling.

The other characters were nothing to write home about, either. I was blown away by the standard, boring secondary characters: 1)Overly protective to the point that it was almost sexist older brothers 2) bland, special snowflake love interest 3)an ugly, racist alien who does nothing but screw up everything, in the name of hatred 4)the standard, out of her mind crazy villain 5) dead parents 6) super awesome soon-to-be mother-in law……yeah, this list could go on and on. I wanted to beat my head against the wall. This wasn’t just cookie cutter, this was the entire “YA sci-fi” kit, marked down on clearance. There wasn’t even a comic relief – where the hell was our Dimwit??!

The science part was highly intriguing, but the end result was just paragraphs of techno-babble that never really sank it. Stitching Snow had a wonderful description of the science behind the novel and highly interesting concepts, but the follow up book was just a whole heap of….information. I finally just ended up glossing over it in my head, because it just never really caught with me.

I could go on, but the bottom line is this: there was a wonderful, strong idea that needed more time to mature and even more time to develop a personality.

So what kept this from one-starring? The ending was actually touching, and the last 25% of the novel picked up, like the author was finally at the parts that she wanted to write. But by that time, I was just ready to hit the past page and be done with this, since I kept putting off reading this one out of sheer boredom.

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I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this one more. I was expecting for another delightful, fun, and slightly painful read, but what I got was a beautiful cover, the barest of The Little Mermaid, and a whole lot of time staring off into space while reading. I’m still rooting for another great Lewis novel, since this had all of the signs of a novel published too soon, but now, I am going in with a heart more guarded and expectations a little bit lowered.

Lyn Sig Plant

12 responses to “Book Review: Spinning Starlight

  1. BookieGirl

    According to the author this is actually a Wild Swans/ Six Swans retelling not a Little Mermaid retelling.

  2. Zed

    I’m glad to read your review because only an hour ago I was contemplating requesting this book from NetGalley and I wasn’t sure whether to go for it or not, especially since I already have a gazillion other books to review.
    Zed recently posted…Review of GracelingMy Profile

  3. This was a retelling of The Little Mermaid? I didn’t know that! Oh well, you made this book sound worse than what I thought it was. I mean, I knew the world building was poor from what I read in my coblogger’s review, but the characters are awful as well? I think this is too sad because the concept was very interesting and I was looking forward to reading this novel. Oh! And I must try Stitching Snow soon!
    Vane recently posted…Top Five Reasons Why I Love Reading Horror.My Profile

  4. How disappointing! It’s always a bummer when a book doesn’t live up to your expectations (especially when they are valid because you have a previous experience with the author). A Little Mermaid retelling is an intriguing idea, but I’ll definitely be skipping this one. My reading time has become so precious that I cannot be bothered with books that just blather on to fill pages. I might check out Stitching Snow, though. Hope your next read is much, much better!
    Natalie @Natflix&Books recently posted…Weekly Rewind 9.12.15My Profile

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