Amy Bartol’s Under Different Stars wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get into the story… I liked the blurb, it had an intriguing cover, but it was different than what I usually choose for myself. Even though I love YA and enjoy dystopian fiction, those titles are often more deeply rooted in a future version of Earth…
Teenage Kricket has had it rough, from run-ins in juvie to literally trying to escape the system. She’s trying to just get by until she can eventually be free of the “protection” of DSS. That means working for cash to keep government services from complicating her life. Her jobs as a janitor and filling in as a bar back help her survive. She seems to only have two friends in the world she can really trust, though you could argue that other people look out for her… If someone shoots a threat for you, that counts, right?!?
Regardless, it won’t matter in a few pages because the Etharians have finally found her and are prepared to take her, by any means necessary, to her real home. This is where living as a scrappy “human” for years may actually prove to benefit her. It’s clear that everyone has an agenda and their own purposes to serve. For some of these other-worldly soldiers it’s as simple as serving their mission. Others have more sinister motives as they seek to use Kricket’s natural talents and abilities for their personal gain. What they fail to realize is that Kricket wants to serve her own purposes whether on Ethar or on Earth. The more they attempt to control her, the better she proves herself to be at manipulating and controlling the situation. While she may not always win, I dare say it usually ends in a draw. Maybe, just maybe, that’s the best outcome for her if she’s playing the long game.
This book was better than I could have imagined it would be. The story is told in such a way that the reader gets drawn into the dizzying feeling Kricket herself experiences as she is forced into a world she is unprepared for. She doesn’t know the customs or the nuances of the language (having a translator implanted doesn’t help define a knob knocker). Well paced and explained, I never felt too lost or overwhelmed as to be pulled from the story being told. I love having a young heroine, who while imperfect is perfectly resilient. Kricket is a chameleon able to assess and adapt with relative ease to her situation, and when she does fall short, she covers with sarcasm and wit. Add in some good looking, wise-cracking soldiers and a little romantic diversion with a “will they or won’t they thread,” and you have yourself the makings of a great story.
I admit to being caught in the spell and can’t wait to read book #2 and see where this adventure ultimately takes her…
(Update: I’ve read all three books that have been published so far and none of them disappoint! I’m really hoping that there is another released soon because I can’t imagine Kricket’s journey ending where it did…)
I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.