I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody, Joanne Rendell
Series: System Divine #1
Published by Simon Pulse on 2019-03-26
Length: 592 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2019, 2019 New Release Challenge
A thief. An officer. A guardian.
Three strangers, one shared destiny . . .
When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.
Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…
Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.
Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.
Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.
All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.
Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.
I began reading Sky Without Stars prior to the book’s release, but y’all I underestimated its length. 😂 I spent the last two weeks on another planet. While Chatine was chased by Policier droids, I held my breath. I swooned over the slightly incompetent Marcellus, and I rolled my eyes at the smart yet naivé Alouette. To say that I enjoyed Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody, Joanne Rendell is an understatement. The complexity of the characters and their plights will leave you breathless and your heart aching. Told from the point of view of three very different characters, as the reader you get a glimpse into life on Laterre.
If I had to guess, I’d say that Chatine has the most page time of the three main characters. She is a hard girl to like, but equally hard to dislike. She’s crafty and fiesty, living her life cheating the system that rules her. Chatine goes by the name Théo and has tricked her Skin (this is like a tracker/communicator/barcode type thing in her arm) into believing she is a boy. She lives in the Third Estate which is basically the poor working class on Laterre. Her parents are head of a gang, and she is saving as much money as she can to buy her way off planet. I can’t blame her one bit. Her life sucks. When she is offered an opportunity off planet by none other than the general, she grabs it. However she didn’t expect to fall for the boy she is sent to spy on.
Marcellus is the grandson of the general of Laterre and the son of a traitor. Needless to say, he is confused and constantly questioning himself and those around him. Marcellus has a complex where he needs to prove he isn’t his father and that he is the most loyal of the Second Estate. He works hard to prove this to everyone around him. When he learns that his father is dead, Marcellus tries to show no emotion, which is heartbreaking. Then when he goes to identify the body and determine what will happen to it, he finds a message written in the Forgotten Word (re: all writing) sewn on the inside of his father’s prison uniform. This sends him spiraling, and it doesn’t take much imagination as to why. I hurt for him, and at times wanted to slap him upside the head. For an officer, he was not observant.
Alouette is my least favorite of the three characters. I’m not really sure why either. I struggled reading her chapters. They were a distraction from the main plot and my obvious ship (Chatine and Marcellus….it will never happen, but I can dream right 😉) Alouette lives underground, literally, with her papa and the Sisters who are charged with protecting the Forgotten Word and Laterre’s last known library. Alouette is studying to become a sister and working towards this the entire book. Yet a brief encounter with Marcellus sends her on a wild goose chase as she discovers her papa isn’t who she thought he was and the world isn’t how she believed.
A Sci-Fi Les Misérables
When I first heard that Sky Without Stars would be a futuristic, sci-fi retelling of Hugo’s classic, I knew I would read it. While I can honestly say that I’ve only ever read an abridged version of the book, I do love all its incarnations. It’s iconic! When someone takes something that is iconic like Les Mis and makes it their own, it will either flop or be fantastic. There’s very little middle ground, in my opinion. I can confidently say that Sky Without Stars is brillant! The author’s borrow very little from the original. They do borrow the characters (most notably Cosette, Marius, and Éponine), the discontent among the classes, and of course the revolution. It’s beautifully written! People that haven’t read or watched Les Mis will be fine. I loved the world-building, incorporating revolutionary France with life on another world and the dystopian side of it as the Third Estate starves to feed the First and Second.
Overall I really enjoyed Sky Without Stars….have I said that already 😉 In all seriousness, the book is a fantastic read, though a little long. Alright a LOT long, and at times because we are reading from three points of view, it can be repetitive which is why I rated it 4.5 instead of 5 stars. Despite that, I highly recommend this to any fan of Les Mis, space operas, and dystopias. It will not disappoint!