Cover Image: Stars and Smoke

Stars and Smoke

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Member Reviews

I love Marie Lu and this book did not disappoint! A great spy novel with plenty of room for more books to come!
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I love Marie Lu’s writing. Let me start by saying that. I’ve read every Marie Lu book there is. I was super excited to see that she was going to write a spy romance. 

I loved the characters and the story in this one. I’m super excited to continue the series because there were so many hints at more stories to come and secrets left unrevealed. I think the world is really interesting as well and I always love Marie’s nods to her other works. 

The plot got a little far fetched for me at points where I felt like these highly intelligent characters would have put some of these elements together faster than they did so that’s where it lost a star but overall, it was a really enjoyable read. 

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Thank you net galley for the advance reader copy of this novel.   This was a FANTASTIC YA read from one of my favorite YA authors, Marie Lu.   Winter and Sidney make a great team fighting against the evil.   Just enough romance to keep things interesting.   I loved everything about this book except when it ended.  5 stars
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I received a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. I have to say this was just a fun book to read all around. I really like Sydney and how she handles things. She does her best to do her job and not fall for the charms of Winter. Winter is a popstar with some very over the top fans. This is when a secret spy group wants to recruit him to help with a mission to get Eli. That is how Sydney and Winter's path cross. Sydney is assigned to be Winter's bodyguard. It had me laughing at so many points.
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Loved this book from Marie Lu! Fast-paced and fun. Plus we love to see a female heroine kicking butt.
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great book and I enjoyed the characters growth. Loved the friends and how this all worked out. I enjoyed the characters journey to finding oneself and others. I hope to read more by this author again.
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This is a story about stealthy stardom 

If your a fan of the author- this is a much different reading experience! That being said, if you’re in the mood for a blend of espionage and high school drama, “Stars and Smoke” is the perfect choice. Think of it as “Mission Impossible: The High School Edition.”  

Thank you so much Netgalley & Roaring Book Press!
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Everything Marie Lu writes is perfection. The story is so engaging that I cancelled movie plans to finish it in one sitting. The characters were all multi-dimensional and interesting, and I didn't see the ending twist coming. Definitely will be on the lookout for a sequel!
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From the bestselling author of the Legend Series comes a new book about international crime, fame, and two unlikely accomplices. Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu has everything you could want in a YA action book that will have fans wanting more when it comes out on March 28th.

I really enjoyed this story! This book was a combination of action-packed with a touch of romance and it was everything you could want in a YA novel. While those used to adult suspense novels might find this book a bit basic, YA readers will probably devour this book as fast as I did! Both Winter and Sydney were such fun characters to read about and learning more about their pasts was super interesting and made them such well-developed characters.

I sincerely hope that a whole series develops about these two because I want to see Winter and Sydney tackle more adventures together and fall in love!! (That’s not too big of an ask, right Marie Lu lol?)

*I received an ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group (Fierce Reads) in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Thanks so much to NetGalley and Roaring Brook Press for access to an eARC in exchange for my honest review!

Winter Young is an international superstar known around the world for his amazing music, his exciting performances, and his impeccable sense of style. Sydney Cossette is an agent for the Panacea Group who makes it a priority not to be known at all. But when the Panacea Group's next big mission means they'll need to enlist the help of a worldwide sensation like Winter as he's invited to perform for the daughter of their target, pairing him off with the jaded young agent who lacks faith in his ability to carry out the mission without either losing his cool or blowing their cover, things are bound to be interesting. Winter and Sydney, along with his manager and two of his backup dancers and closest friends travel to London for the birthday party of the century, and between rehearsals and party events, they have to piece together clues and search desperately for evidence to stop their target before it's too late.

The way both of these leading characters were written was incredible. They had so much depth and so much heart and so much *trauma* that fed so deeply into who they were as people and how they handled each struggle that came their way, and their slow burn somewhat forbidden romance had my heart racing from the moment their eyes met across the conference room in Panacea's headquarters. The humor between them and the rest of the cast was well timed, the pacing of the story was amazing, and the action sequences were tense and stressful and really delivered. Plus, while I saw the twist coming a few times throughout the story, Marie Lu did a great job of convincing me that I was wrong to think so multiple times, so it was actually a really fun reveal in the end. I'm going to be holding my breath until I can get my hands on the sequel and read more about what Winter, Sydney, and the rest of the gang are getting up to.
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Winter Young is a superstar. Sydney Cossette is a spy for a secret agency. Together, they aim to take down a weapons smuggler. When the Panacea Group finds out that the smuggler’s daughter is a big Winter Young fan, they send him in as a distraction while Sydney gets some evidence. Winter is also a distraction for Sydney though as they soon find themselves drawn together in this dangerous mission. Marie Lu has created another unique and encompassing story. Told through the dual viewpoints of Winter and Sydney, this action packed novel with surprising cliffhangers ending every chapter will keep readers engaged until the very last page.
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Leave it to Marie Lu to get me out of my reading slump!! I love a good spy/heist story, so this was so much fun to read. And a fun new kind of vibe for Marie's books. Loved it!!
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Marie Lu doesn't disappoint! I was gripped by this story pretty much right away, and it kept me hooked up until the end! I loved the two main characters, and I hope we get more of their adventures!
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“‘You may presume that you belong in the spotlight and I operate in a secret world, but perhaps we exist in the same place.’”

A pop star and a spy. Winter and Sydney. On a secret mission to stop a biochemical weapon from getting into terrorist hands. That’s the premise of this book. 

Stars and Smoke. 

A pretty good title! 

This is a YA novel so both characters are 19 years old and good-looking. Another reviewer commented that they got tired of hearing how beautiful Winter was and I would have to agree. It got to be a bit much. And what’s weird is that I still can’t really picture what he looks like. 

Let’s see… 
”he was so beautiful it was hard to believe he was real.”
”she was surprised he wasn’t covered in moths all drawn to his light.”
”There was no one else here, and yet, even now, he looked like a star, like he couldn’t help but burn so bright that even the air was drawn to him, that the moon yearned to illuminate him.”

Marie Lu took pop star quite literally. 

So as with most YA novels, the characters are young and beautiful, have amazing wisdom and skills, and obviously fall in love with each other. 

Having read Lu’s Legend series and The Kingdom of Back, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. Stars and Smoke was different because it wasn’t really a world-building book. It took place in modern day London. There was some high-tech gadgetry but otherwise a normal world. 

I still liked it. 

I think what I enjoyed most was the action. I could see this being a rom-com-action-type movie. For some reason I just picture Simu Liu and Scarlett Johansson as Winter and Sydney so they would be older than teenagers but Simu can dance and Sydney is basically Black Widow.

I am a fan of the Mission Impossible movies, however ridiculous they end up being, so I didn’t really care of the aspects of the mission were realistic or not. It also almost felt like the action and the mission superseded the romance which I prefer. 

For a YA novel, the characters weren’t too annoying, the dialogue was mostly realistic, and the action and suspense was really good. Plus it was a clean novel, virtually no swearing and no sex scenes (just one almost one…) so a book that would be appropriate for a teenage audience. 

A slightly more detailed summary is this: Panacea, a secret organization often ‘employed’ by the CIA, recruits Winter, a pop star, to be an undercover spy for their mission because Winter has been invited as the special guest to the birthday party of an evil billionaire’s daughter. Winter is paired with the agent, Sydney, who will be his bodyguard. 

Together they must use Winter’s access to the daughter to get evidence of the billionaire’s illicit activities so that the CIA can finally take him down before the chemical weapon, Paramecium, is in terrorist control. 

The side plot lines are: of course, the romance between Winter and Sydney— forbidden because they live in two very different worlds; and Winter’s early-life-crisis where we feels like his existence is meaningless compared to his deceased brother who worked for the Peace Corp. 

Winter finds out his brother was actually an agent with Panacea, not the Peace Corp, and so we see his grief journey with processing that and trying to follow in his footsteps and get the love of his mother back. 

I didn’t realize this book was in a series. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It seems like a good standalone story and I’m not sure if the characters have what it takes to go the distance, but Marie Lu is a great author so maybe she’ll come up with something good. 

Stars and Smoke doesn’t really end on a cliffhanger so you don’t have to read this one with a commitment to the entire future series which I also like. I have too many series I’m in the middle of… 

I liked the name of the secret organization: Panacea. The word Panacea means ‘solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases’ and is the name of the Greek goddess of universal remedy. I thought this was interesting to think about as both Winter and Sydney have difficulties— Winter, his grief over his brother and his estrangement with his mother; Sydney with a lung condition and the loss of her mom to the same disease— and especially considering this is a series, the role of Panacea in both of their lives may become a remedy for them in different ways. 

One thing that was a little weird to me was that Winter was a male. In Tosca Lee’s book The Line Between—a really good book— the main character is Wynter and is a female. I’m not sure I felt like Winter fit his character, I think he should have had a different name. 

 Overall, for a YA book I really liked it! I think if it was marketed as a an adult book I would have wanted it to be a little different, but I think for what it was supposed to be Marie Lu did a really great job writing this. 

And for this reason… I would recommend this book.

[Content Advisory: 0 f-words, 7 s-words; a couple characters are gay; heavy flirting but no sex scenes]

**Received an ARC via NetGalley**
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What a cute book! I really enjoyed reading this one! This was so many genres packed into one and it worked out so well! A fun little thriller spy romance fantasy (that’s a mouth full) will immediately grab your attention and immerse you in this addictive adventure. A lot of people were comparing it to a YA version of Mission Impossible with some fantasy twists and I’d have to agree! It even has my favorite trope: enemies to lovers! Who doesn’t love that!
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Meet Winter Young – International pop sensation, with a voice like velvet and looks that could kill. His star power has smashed records, selling out stadiums from LA to London. His rabid fans would move heaven and earth for even a glimpse of him – just imagine what they’d do to become his latest fling.

Meet Sydney Cossette – Part of an elite covert ops group, Sydney joined their ranks as their youngest spy with plans to become the best agent they’ve ever had. An ice queen with moves as dangerous as her comebacks, Sydney picks up languages just as quickly as she breaks hearts. She's fiery, no-nonsense, and has zero time for romance – especially with a shameless flirt more used to serving sass than taking orders.
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Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a review copy! In classic Marie Lu style, this YA novel was an escapist romp through a world of performing superstars and spycraft. I loved the backstories of the main characters and the angst they felt even while being at the top of their fields. It was fun to imagine being in one of their shoes while safely ensconced in the comforts of a novel. The romance and obsession with looks was a bit over the top. It was almost as though fandom permeated Lu’s own writing. That said, I enjoyed the quick pacing and the rich extravagances detailed within the story. I think this light novel is great for those who enjoy a little intrigue but want something that doesn’t require a huge investment of time. Enjoy, my friends!
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I did not like this, which is such a shame because I love warcross to a million pieces. Lu was my ride or die. Her books are ridiculously addictive and so fun to read. I understand you have to be in a certain mood for this type of book, and never once was I in it. Plot wise it was exhilarating. So much to work with—spies, mafia, secret organizations. I loved that. If more of the focus was on it than the ill-fated romance, this book might have been saved.
The romance ruined it. Both leads made absolutely no sense and it was so obvious how they were shoved together—both literally and figuratively. They had no chemistry but were ready to die for each other after three chapters. No connection whatsoever. It ruined the book's potential so much. 
Overall, I was not a fan.
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I got this originally as an ARC form NetGalley, but did not finish reading it before it was snatched back, so I bought a copy on Independent Book Store Day and have no regrets!
Lu is a solid YA author who is really good at giving good, action based plots that are perfectly married with rich interior lives for her characters. I love the combination of spy and superstar, and I’m excited this will be a series! It’s also a solid (leaning towards shorter) length, which makes it a great vacation choice too!
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Gallagher Girls who?? Stars and Smoke is a new adult Spy meets rockstar romance with a knife to the throat scene I know everyone will love!!
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