The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian / Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Mira Ink, 2015
My Rating: 4/5
Synopsis: In the town of New Temperance, souls are in short supply and Nina should be worrying about protecting hers. Yet she’s too busy trying to keep her sister Mellie safe.
When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their existence, she’ll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal church.
To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a mysterious fugitive who has already saved her life once. Wanted by the church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she needs Finn and his group of rogue friends.
But what do they need from her in return?
This is the second book my boyfriend bought me and, whilst Soundless was a flop, The Stars Never Rise was not. This was a thoroughly enjoyable and fast-paced read. There were some flaws, hence the 4/5 rating instead of 5/5, but it was still a fun, and surprisingly mature, book.
This novel is set in the future, 100 years after a war between humans and demons, and the occurrence of stillbirths due to there not being enough pure ‘souls’ to go around. The vast majority of America was ravaged by the war, but big towns and cities survived, protected by high walls and the authority of the Church. The rules of society are strictly upheld and sins severely punished. Sins include anything from blasphemy to fornication. And as if that wasn’t enough to contend with, ‘degenerates’ also roam the badlands, demons occupying decaying human bodies, searching for human flesh and a new human vessel to occupy.
The world-building was really interesting and unique, and I’m excited to learn even more in the sequel. The author doesn’t info-dump all this information either. It’s given to us in drips and drabs, mainly through clever dialogue.
In addition to this, there was thankfully no preaching. Of course, this novel deals with Christianity, yet it doesn’t force any ideas down your throat. There’s no preaching or mention of Biblical stories and figures, or even God for that matter. There’s nothing wrong with having religion in a book, but I was worried this novel might go on and on about the power of God or something like that. However, it also doesn’t insult religion, so people of any faith, or no faith at all, can read this without feeling offended or preached to.
Also, the novel doesn’t gloss over sex and swearing like some YA does. It’s silly to think teenagers don’t engage in these activities or don’t know anything about them, because they do. Nothing is gratuitous and any mention of sex is referred to vaguely, but it’s at least mentioned.
Our story follows the life of Nina. Neglected by a sinful mother, she’s forced to steal in order to care for her sister Mellie. Nina is headstrong and practical; she knows what she needs to do to survive, until the night she meets Finn. One thing I did enjoy about Nina is that she wasn’t overly trusting. Too often, the female protagonist is swept off to safety by a handsome boy and she falls madly in love within about five seconds. Nina, however, after being helped by Finn, keeps trying to bolt. She doesn’t fall straight into his arms and believe every word that comes out of his mouth, which was really refreshing to read. If I was in some dire situation and a boy saved my life, I’d be very grateful, but I certainly wouldn’t fully trust him. I know a character being trusting, or not trusting enough, can be a personality trait, but too often these girls are more trusting than is normal.
Finn himself is an interesting character. He has a particular ‘quirk’ that makes him stand out from other love interests, but I won’t spoil it. At first, this quirk of his was strange to get my head around and put me off a little, just like it does Nina, yet I eventually got my head around it, especially because he’s a very likable character. Witty, caring and confident, he was a love interest I genuinely liked. Too often the male love interests are just as formulaic as the female protagonists. Finn was certainly his own person. However, the romance itself was a little strange, mostly due to Finn’s quirk, but also because of its progression. Yes, Nina wasn’t entirely trusting at the start, yet I did feel like the romance suddenly progressed quickly over the span of about two days. Still, there was no insta-love, with no “I love you’s” being thrown around.
The plot is fast-paced with twists and turns. Some of the twists I worked out early on, others took me by surprise, and the twists keep coming right until the very end. This was definitely a plus point; the plot is never stagnant and neither is the ending, with action going on right to the very last page. Sometimes, endings can just fizzle out, with the action pretty anti-climactic, but here it was done well.
Lastly, the writing was good, successfully building up the tension. The emotion of it didn’t feel forced and it was poetic at times and, as a result, I enjoyed reading from Nina’s POV.
So, overall, it was a quick read with an abundance of action and a refreshing take on the Dystopian genre. The oppressive government being the church made for an interesting spin and there were also multiple layers to the oppression and deceit. This is a book I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys the Dystopian genre but is perhaps fed up of a lot of the current books feeling too similar, especially because this series has the added element of Urban Fantasy.
Have you read The Stars Never Rise? Or any other of Rachel Vincent’s novels? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments below!