Title: And All The Stars
Author: Andrea K Höst
Genre: Future Dystopia/Science Fiction
Received for review from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads)
Come for the apocalypse.
Stay for cupcakes.
Die for love.
Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.
None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.
Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.
Future Dystopia is still enjoying the boost of success given to the genre by The Hunger Games, and what a good thing too. Unlike the wave of copy-cats that usually follows a super seller (Fifty Shades of subtle porn book covers in Tescos right now, anyone?) the whole Dystopia thing has been so very different in every novel in the genre I’ve read.
Höst’s take is aliens.
However, the story is focused on the relationships forged between survivors trying to hide out in Sydney hotels. In fact, the whole alien thing isn’t really a prominent feature until more than halfway through the book, and we don’t really get inside their motivations until the final act. So, instead of Independence Day style action, there is a claustrophobic waiting game, while atrocities are committed in the background.
It’s a bit slow to get going – ironically, despite starting with the heroine surviving at ground zero of the alien attack. Things just take a while to slot into place, and I know there’s merit in discovering things with the characters, but at times I wanted things a bit quicker. And the sense of time was a bit wonky in places too. Occasionally I felt like weeks had passed, only to discover it had been a couple of days.
But, aside from these minor quibbles, this was a great book – a slow burner that might have taken a while to warm up, but soon became intense and gripping, especially in the final act.
And I LOVED that it was standalone. No ‘to be continued’ here. With all the series and trilogies that have been popular lately, I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the old standalone book. I’ve read a couple recently, and it’s been a real breath of fresh air.