Published: 30th September 2012 by Self Published
Format: Ebook, 204 pages
Genres: Science Fiction
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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.
Madeline Cost wakes up buried under concrete after the collapse of a train station (St. James for those who know). Mysterious spires have risen up out of the earth in 150 of the world’s largest cities, spewing out a purplish-white dust that changes those who come into contact with it. It doesn’t take long for the news to become global: Earth is the victim of an alien attack.
Part ode to Sydney, part postapocalyptic novel (with aliens), And All the Stars gripped me from the first page, the first paragraph, and didn’t let go until the wee hours of the morning after I had raced through it. Combining exquisite story-telling, vivid characters and an alien race I am unlikely to forget in a hurry, it’s a shining example of what YA novels should aspire to be, and I loved it! Told in third person but largely following the thoughts and actions of Maddie, this is a powerful novel that explores the life changing relationships that are forged through surviving together in a disaster.
One of the best things about the book is that it follows an ensemble cast, and no one member of the team shines over the others. Maddie didn’t become a brilliant tactician, fighter and three-step thinker over night, which was refreshing, and heavily relied on her other friends for guidance – especially the natural scientist, Fisher, who came up with plans, the pragmatic Min, who acted as a strategist. The novel delves into all types of friendships and I was gratified that it showed strong female relationships as well as a few burgeoning romances and glimpses into male bonding. It also, realistically, showed characters from varied backgrounds and walks of life. Each member of the team brought their own strengths to the group and it was really great to see them all working together.
With so much time devoted in the beginning to Maddie’s escape from the train station, I was afraid that the story would either be incredibly rushed, or split up over multiple books, but for relatively short novel, And All the Stars covers a lot of ground and is not disappointing in the least. It’s a great stand alone novel (refreshingly), and while I was there was more because I enjoyed it so much, I was really happy with how it played out and ended. And I loved the epilogue (I’m a sucker for a good epilogue). The writing style is incredible, and Höst is obviously talented: there isn’t a wasted word, look or emotion in the whole book.
The world building is also amazing – although the aliens and their motivations are complex, the author does a great job of clearly expressing herself to readers. The aliens aren’t typical movie aliens either, but truly alien in every sense and simultaneously fascinating and fearsome until their motivations are made clear (at which point they become repulsive). Another thing I really enjoyed is that the author wasn’t just preoccupied with how different the aliens looked, but also how they felt, how they sounded. Their otherness was a lot more tangible for it, I think. Théoden was awesome. So. Awesome.
Well, I think it’s clear that I really loved this book! And All the Stars deserves a lot more praise, and gushing, but I think a reader must experience it for themselves to understand. I don’t usually read self-published books, but I’m glad I requested this one and I will be on the lookout for anything else that Höst writes!