The first thing that attracted me to And All The Stars was the cover. Isn't it pretty? Reading the book made me appreciate it even more, because it actually depicts a character exactly as she's described, which is refreshing. The character in question is Madeleine, a budding artist who is caught in St James train station in the Sydney CBD when a massive spire erupts from the ground and spurts purple dust over the city. A purple dust that kills some, turns some green and others blue. Madeleine herself becomes a Blue and soon discovers she has more power than she's ever had before.
And All The Stars is a unique take on a familiar story. There was so much I loved about it. I loved the plot, and the way certain things were revealed that I never saw coming. I loved the setting – it's not often you come across these kinds of stories set anywhere other than America. It was brilliant and refreshing to know exactly where the characters were and what they were talking about. But most of all I loved the characters. Madeleine took awhile to warm to for me but I liked her in the end, and the secondary characters were all richly developed and likeable. I loved the group dynamics as the random collection of kids banded together to survive.
Often dystopian/sci-fi books are set far into the future, and this is the first one I've come across that is about the immediate aftermath of a disaster. A big chunk of it is about basic survival, the discovery of changes to the landscape and people's bodies, and figuring out what the hell has happened. Some might find this aspect of it a bit slow, but I actually really enjoyed it. It's not something you come across in every book, plus I think the slow build is totally worth it because when THINGS start happening, well, they really start happening.
The action was entertaining and there was a lot of humour, but what surprised me was how emotional And All The Stars made me feel. It was quite heart-wrenching at times – those who have read it will know exactly which times I'm talking about! Still, there were a few scenes that I felt were a bit too rushed or glossed over; the ending in particular happened a bit too quickly for me. But overall it was quite satisfying and left me with a smile on my face, and I can't complain about that.
Spoilery Talking Points
- Theoden! OMG, Theoden broke my heart. I did not see that twist coming, and it makes me want to reread the book again soon to see if I can pick up any clues. However, I felt the big reveal and Theoden's death was one of the parts that was too rushed. I would have liked a bit more emotion in there, and a better farewell between Madeleine and Theoden. I can understand why this didn't happen, as she'd only just found out the truth, but still, it felt kind of anti-climactic. I did like how Madeleine struggled with her feelings for Fisher afterwards, and that he too had difficulty coming to terms with the situation. It was nice that the happy ending in the epilogue was well down the track, allowing them both time to figure things out and properly mourn Theoden. Of course, it was completely cheesy, but I liked it.
- I couldn't quite wrap my head around the whole alien cycle thing. Maybe I'm dense or maybe the information was crammed into too small a space – I actually had to reread the explanation a few times – but I just didn't get why they invaded planets, fought, then left only to come back again eight years later and do it all over again. Where did they go in the meantime? I was confused.
I embraced my inner tourist and snapped some pics of some of the locations featured in And All The Stars while I was in the city one day.
This is the entrance to St. James station in Hyde Park, you can see the Archibald Fountain in the background.
Side view of the entrance to St. James station.
The Archibald Fountain with St. Mary's Cathedral in the background.
Published: September 2012
Get It: Angus & Robertson