Cover Image: Stars and Smoke

Stars and Smoke

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Member Reviews

This was such an interesting concept, but I found the execution to be rather “meh”. The story DRAGGED and took a while to get through, but as I reflect on it at the end, it doesn’t seem as though much happened.  I generally just wanted MORE.

I was given a ARC from NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. All opinions are my own.
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Stars and Smoke is a young adult spy/thriller/romance by best selling author Marie Lu.  This book is a departure from her usual storylines, and I wish she'd done it sooner!  The story follows superstar Winter Young and covert spy Sydney Cossette as they take on one of the world's biggest international criime bosses, Eli Morrison.  Morrison's daughter is one of Winter's biggest fans and when he invites Winter to perform at her birthday party, it gives Winter and Sydney a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gather the evidence needed to take Morrison and his operations down.
Stars and Smoke delivers on so many fronts.  The plot is character-driven with Lu giving dimension to even the side characters.  Most enjoyable is the development of Winter and Sydney's relationship which does not begin well.  The romantic sub-plot pulls the reader more fully into the plot and adds depth to the storyline.  I would be loathe not to mention that Lu also includes one of the best action scenes I've read in a long time.  My only criticism is that it felt like the beginning of the story dragged; however, once it got going, I couldn't put it down.
I give Stars and Smoke a solid 4.5 stars, and I can't wait for the sequel!
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
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Marie Lu has done it again! I could not put this book down. The pacing was perfect and I loved all the twists and turns the story took. The characters are also lovely but what really shines is their chemistry. Sydney and Winter have such incredible banter and I loved following their adventure. It wouldn't be a Marie Lu book without some emotional turmoil so be prepared for that. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fast-paced, high-stakes story with characters you can't help but root for.
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After loving Marie Lu's Skyhunter duology, I was very excited to read her latest novel. Though I knew Stars and Smoke was out of my usual reading taste, I was optimistic. Unfortunately, this was not for me.

It as very, very young YA which—in a contemporary setting—made it kind of painful to read. Obviously Skyhunter and Legend were also YA so I was shocked by how much younger the writing was in Stars and Smoke. The characters were old enough to be more in the New Adult genre but they acted like children. The character descriptions were over-long and a bit tacky. Winter's angsty attitude and random serious lines were cringe and a bit painful to read. 

Stars and Smoke is a fast and fun read but I struggled to take any part of it seriously. The story was predictable and simple which left me wanting a bit more. That being said, I am definitely not the target demographic for this book so I think younger readers will enjoy this a lot!
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I thoroughly enjoyed Stars and Smoke! This is exactly what I had hoped for. This is such a fun read and with the added mystery, I literally didn't want to put it down. When I read the synopsis, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Pop Star, Secret Agents, Romance, Enemy to Friends, mystery, the list goes on. But what isn't listed are the deeper issues the characters have and face throughout the story, and I liked seeing their growth along the way.

Sydney Cossette works for Panacea Group (they do special missions that perhaps the CIA would have too much red tape to work around, so the PG takes on cases) and she isn't thrilled when she's told she will be working alongside the superstar, Winter Young. The banter between the two had me laughing at times. This mission packs a whole lot of action and suspense, a few swoon worthy moments, and some twists you won't see coming.

I can easily see myself buying a copy for my bookshelf, as I would read this again.
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I enjoyed reading this novel by Marie Lu. The main characters are well rounded; and the dialogue between them is so energetic, it flows. The tension between Winter and Sydney make you feel it thrum through your body. Winter goes undercover for the group Panacea to stop a criminal, with Sydney as the experienced undercover agent. Sydney and Winter have to work hard to fix their differences, so they can solve the case.
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Romance! Romance! Romance! A great romcom. It made me happy, and it made me sad. Mostly made me sad when I finished it because I didn’t want it to end
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3.5/5 stars!

I will read absolutely anything by Marie Lu and as soon as I heard she was coming out with a new book I instantly had to get my hands on it!! Although this wasn't my favorite book by her I had so much fun reading it. A global teenage pop star and spy team up to save the world?? Count me in. This book was incredibly easy to read and super fast paced. I devoured the book in one sitting. I really liked the idea of the plot and the mission, although I felt the execution in certain parts fell a little flat. I also did enjoy the characters and think they hold a lot of potential for growth in the next book, however wished I got to see a little more chemistry and banter between the two. Having more of a connection with these characters would have made me feel more connected to the story and allowed the stakes to feel higher. All in all though I had a very fun time reading this book and I definitely have high hopes for the next one!
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I was excited about this book the moment I heard about it. I have read most of Marie Lu's novels, and have enjoyed them all, so I had very high expectations of this one. It did not disappoint. Lu has a way of weaving romantic tropes into the story without them being too sweet and overpowering, and I loved that about this book. The secret agent/spy recruits a superstar to help with a mission aspect was super fun, and I enjoyed every second of this story. Forever waiting for the next Marie Lu book to add to my collection of favorites.
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3.5 ⭐️

This was a fun concept a famous pop star Winter being thrown into a spy situation with a true spy Sidney. 

It was a fast easy read and for YA I think it was perfect. This will be a fun one for younger audiences. The plot itself and how it was executed fell a bit flat for me. I found it to be repetitive at times. However there were definitely other points where it was edge of my seat. 

I struggled with the characters and the matching in this book, I appreciate that the intended audience will enjoy the romance aspect of this book and I was looking forward to it as well. But for some reason I just couldn't get into this one. There were points of chemistry but then lost steam here and there,

I would recommend this book for highschool age and up. I think teens will love this book, it's fun spy undercover with low stakes. 

Thank you to NetGalley and MacMillan Children's Publishing for this advanced reader copy. My review is voluntarily my own.

I will be posting my review to my Instagram page the.floofs.booknook and retail sites closer to Publishing date.
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I adored this book! I loved Marie Lu's Legend series (and this is a great reminder to me to read her other series). I'm obsessed with Sydney & Winter and can't wait for book 2!

This was such a fun sci-fi novel. Often these dystopian novels can be great yet heavy and this was delightfully light while being action-packed.
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Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Press for letting me read this early. 

You know when you consistently read an authors book and you’ve read everything that they have out. But the writing doesn’t change, the tropes are the same. This book was so frustrating, granted I know I’m not in the age demographic for this book and I know people will enjoy this but the writing was so cheesy and the main character was so flat and boring. I’m sorry an angsty teenage pop star? No thank you.
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Fun, action-packed and romantic. A totally enjoyable spy/celebrity book. It will have your heart pumping, swooning and stressed. Winter Young is the type of tortured celebrity that I melt over and Sydney is resilient as the come. Together these two make a great duo and I am excited to see what missions they will go on next. If you are looking for a fast paced YA romantic thriller with a main character that will remind you of a cast member from BTS then strap in for a great ride. A fun-tastic book!
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The plot of this book was actually really great and I was invested in it but I didn’t really feel for the characters. Them separately I think they were pretty good, Winter being my favorite. But them together I just thought “meh”. The writing is simple yet beautiful as always, that’s one thing I love about Marie Lu. Whenever I read one of her books I know I’ll enjoy that aspect of it.
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3.5-4 stars.  It took me a little bit to get into to the story,  but then I was hooked. This was a good solid read with a little of everything--action, betrayel, romance. The plot was intriguing and played out well.  I enjoyed the main characters and the depth, and even growth we see in them. I was wishing for a little more "together time" for Winter and Sydney. The story wrapped up nicely and left me happily anticipating book 2.
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Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu, the first novel in a new series, is a thrilling, action-packed, young adult novel. It’s a Mission: Impossible meets Hannah Montana story in all the best ways possible.

Superstar Winter Young has been recruited by The Panacea Group to help collect evidence to put away a notorious and brutal smuggler. He’s been paired with the bristly Agent Sydney Cossette in accomplishing the covert ruse. What danger will they encounter along the way? Was it a terrible idea to enlist a superstar rookie?

This novel was a thrill of a ride that I couldn’t put down. It’s quick paced and intriguing that will keep you guessing. The characters are complex and I think it will be very interesting to see it unfold in future books. Lu writes from both Sydney and Winter’s point of views. She also utilizes flashbacks to slowly unwind their pasts, which I thought paired well with the plot. The seemingly inevitable romance storyline in the novel was a delightful slow-burn. 

Overall, I give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Roaring Book Press (Macmillan) for providing this arc.
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Winter and Sydney 🤩
Honestly, I loved the concept for this book - the premise of a spyXpopstar was intriguing and I loved both of the main characters interactions with one another 
The plot was great - the twists throughout the story shocked me!
However, I do feel as though the blurb was slightly misleading as Winter and Sydney clearly had tension with each other from the start 🤐
Overall an entertaining story, would recommend it to those that enjoy a fast-paced read
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Fun and quick YA read about celebrities and spies. Nothing about this book was surprising, but the ride was still entertaining. It's perfect for a low-stakes action read where you're fairly certain nothing too bad is going to happen -- that's the magic of YA, right?

The premise, pairing up a young spy with a teen idol, piqued my interest. I didn't see how that was really going to work with the story, but eventually it made sense. I loved the action sequences in this, especially toward the end, but the relationship between the two leads and all the band members were sorta so-so. I dunno, something about the interaction between all the characters felt off. Even the initial animosity between Sydney and Winter was both too cliched and resolved too easily. When their relationship started picking up steam, I wanted to shake them and yell, "Think about the mission!"

I don't want to spoil the ending, but I really like how it ended. The author could have gone the easy way with the ending, but I'm glad she didn't and that she ended it how she did. It felt more respectful to the characters.
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This was my first Marie Lu and I was not disappointed! The vibe of this book was definitely The Bodyguard by Katherine Center with spies, and I absolutely ate every second of it up. I enjoyed that the majority of the book was from Winter's pov and that Winter was the stereotypical annoying celebrities that I feel like a lot of books do at first, and Sydney was so funny. BUT THE PINNING FOR EACH OTHER OMG. What truly kills me is that I'm going to have to wait over a year for the sequel. Thank you so much Netgalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for an ARC copy in exchange of an honest review.
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Marie Lu took a new change of pace with this new novel, and I enjoyed it!  

This is a spy novel with a romance mixed into the mix.  Winter is a dynamic character.  He is a pop star known and loved across the world.  He is intelligent, gorgeous, and a perfect spy.  I wish there had been more development about him learning his spy skills, but alas, the plot had to keep moving.  

Speaking of the plot, it was okay.  This is why I gave it a 3 star review.  I enjoyed the thoughts and ideas of this book more than the actual book itself.  The characters were great!  The idea and concept is great!  It will be a fun and effective series for young adult readers as well as adults, but the plot was just okay.  I think Lu incorporated too many background pieces into the novel.  I see these playing out over a series of books, but the reveal and plot of this one had a lot to be desired. 

The romance was also a little meh.  It wasn't really a will they, won't they, but more of when will they?  It was a little spicier most young adult novels, but it was also not very spicy in the romance genre sense of the term. 

Ultimately, it was a great premise, but had a lot to be desired.
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