Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 2nd 2018
Genres: young adult, science fiction
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Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
While I was reading A Conspiracy of Stars I was thinking that this was one of the most inventive and original books I have ever read. The world-building is bizarre, yet totally works, and though I don’t have all the answers, I am thrilled to find them all out in the next book. This wasn’t a perfect book, but it was mind-blowingly entertaining, and I loved every minute of it.
A Conspiracy of Stars starts as Octavia and her father are driving through the compound on an alien planet, speeding through a jungle filled with exotic animal species pulled from the author’s brilliant imagination. They are humans, mostly scientists and engineers, who have left their origin planet on a ship that had a mechanical failure and had to stop on Faloiv, the only habitable planet nearby. For forty years, they’ve built a civilization built upon research and studying the animal and plant species of the planet they now live on. Octavia’s father is a white coat in the Mammalian facility, as is her mother. Octavia’s in school, studying, and when she is of age, she will also become one of them, but then something happens, and the new head of the Council decides to let interns into the Zoo, effectively ending their education and beginning their careers as scientists. But something is not right with Octavia. She can feel and sense the way the animals and plants are thinking and feeling, and she starts to investigate why and what her parents are not telling her, because they clearly know something. The other thing important to mention is that Faloiv was already inhabited by another human-like species–the Faloii. They are much taller than humans, they have spots, and the ability to blend in with their surroundings by changing the color of their skin as needed.
What I loved most about this novel is the way the author brought the planet of Faloiv to life. There were so many different life forms and ecosystems, and I truly felt like I was there. The author described their appearance in a way that was easy for me to envision in my mind, and though I’m sure my mental images were not the same as hers, they completely worked.
The book is a bit of a slow starter, but I was so interested in the world-building and the mystery of what was going on with Octavia, that I didn’t mind the delay in action. I never found it boring.
So what didn’t work for me? Well, for one, I wasn’t as attached to the characters as I would have liked to be. I found them a bit generic, and I was looking for a little more depth. The romances fell flat for me, which isn’t that much of a negative because I’m never really reading these for the romance anyway. I read for the story, and if the romance works too, that’s great, but I will most likely not hate a book if it doesn’t, unless it’s completely yucky. It wasn’t yucky in this one, it was just…meh. It’s possible that it takes two books for you to really care about these characters, and I definitely will be reading the next one because the story was excellent.