Last Star Burning

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Oct 2017

Member Reviews

I started this and just... I just can't get into it. it's really boring and just not what I expected at all, and quite frankly I just didn't care for the character at all.

I won't be doing a review for this at all.
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LAST STAR BURNING by Caitlin Sangster (Oct. 2017; Simon Pulse; SLJ: Grade 6 up) received a starred review from Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.  This dystopian fantasy novel tells the story of Sevvy, a young girl who has been demoted from the Firsts to the lower caste Fourths and must undergo re-education because of her mother's treasonous actions.  Sevvy eventually joins forces with Howl (surprisingly, the powerful Chairman's son) in an exciting, action-packed survival story.  Interestingly, Sangster bases her story in part on her time in China and alludes to the Cultural Revolution. Readers will eagerly anticipate Shatter the Suns, book two in this trilogy, which is projected to be available later this year.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this title. Unfortunately, I have lost interest in the title, partly due to trusted reviews, and will not be reviewing the title. I have, however, promoed the title through my weekly recap with links to Amazon. Thank you again, and I apologize for the inconvenience this may cause.
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DNF @ 78%

I know, I know, at 78% why couldn't I just finish it? I feel a bit guilty about this too, but I stopped reading to shower, do some chores, and spent pretty much all that time steaming over how I hated the direction this book was going. The scene I had left on had me rolling my eyes when I put the book down, but by the time I could read it again I wanted to throw my iPad across the room.

I can't say much of what bothered me about this book because I don't want to spoil the book for people who still want to read it, but there are a few things I can say. 
Please take this all with a grain of salt. If you haven't read much YA or are new to reading, you actually might enjoy this. If you read a ton of YA--especially YA dystopia this might not be the thing for you. 

To start, let me say that I was actually really enjoying this book in the beginning, wondering why my GR friends didn't have a good time with it. "What gives?" I thought. Then Sev runs off with Howl. Immediately, my like for the book started slipping. Why? Because I dislike when secrets are continuously used as a plot device. I get it adds suspense, I understand explaining secrets all at once can be considered info dumping, but... UGH!!! 
Every time, Sev asks a pretty darn good question she is put off and, I mean, she's trusting her life to this guy, are you telling me that even explaining the destination is going to kill him? And all the other secrets-- Literally the secrets and lack of trust DOES NOT STOP. 78% in, another "huge" reveal that can change everything *rolls eyes*, I'm just done. 

Another thing is how some scenes or reactions don't make sense -- I feel like I miss something. This whole part since they've made it to the mountain has just felt sloppy. A new recruit who has no formal training is taken out into the field to patrol --where is the armory? Did they go there first or did the dude just take her outside? Also, no one can get away from required testing THAT easily. Just... I've got to let it go. Honestly, the longer I spend on this review, the more frustrated I get that I've spent my morning & afternoon reading this. I feel so let down. 

As annoyed as I am, people who aren't tired of secrets being held back from the MC, might like this book. The characters are pretty charming, the world is interesting and explored--with hopefully more to come, and the romance isn't front and center. Truly, the romance almost seems refreshing, yes most of it relying on looks and the fact they've been through dangerous situations together, but I feel there was time and situations for it to grow. 
In fact, the possibilities of others liking it, and the romance part are what give this book the additional second star. 

This is not a down and out horrible book. There is something here that people may like, unfortunately, it just rubbed me the wrong way.
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I am not sure what I was expecting when I started this book, but it certainly wasn’t this little gem of a book.  This is a well crafted post-apocalyptic world where you really can’t tell what is the truth and what is lies.  Even when we think we are getting the truth, I think it is more that person’s perception of the truth.

Sev is an interesting character.  She has had a pretty hard life, being punished for her mother’s crimes, but she is resilient and self-reliant as well as loyal to the ones who are punishing her.   She is totally the victim and acts like one most of the time.  She should questions the people around her more, especially those who are supposedly trying to help her, but if you think about all of the misinformation she has been given and the absolute control over her life that those in power have had, you can understand why she doesn’t.  Does she trust too easily? Yes.  Is she gullible and naive? Yes.  But consider that almost everyone she knows and meets lies to her for their own gains, and it starts to make sense.

Howl is the love interest, and the guy who saves her from the city and keeps her alive in the Outside is a very contrary character.  I too wanted to see the good in him, but he also pretty much lies to Sev from the start and I am not really sure that when he starts telling her the truth if it is the real truth or just what he perceives is the truth based on what he has been told.  I want to like Howl, but I am still wondering about his motives and who he really is.

Tai-ge is not in the story that much, just at the beginning and the end, but he is an important character in that I think he is the only one who has tried to be honest with Sev.  It will be interesting to see where his character goes in the next book, and if he proves to be as good of friend as I think he is. 

The plot is a little hard to get into and the world building is somewhat confusing at first, but once you get used to the idea that no one is trustworthy and that there are many plots and side plots to rule the world then things start to get a bit better.  I liked that the illness that destroyed the world is based on a really disease, encephalistis lethargica, just enhanced a little for the story.  The world the author created was influenced by China during the Cultural Revolution.  

Although this book is a bit slow moving, there are so many twists to it that it keeps you interested.  The writing style and the world building also make you want to stick around and enjoy the story.  I enjoyed going on this journey with Sev trying to figure out who to trust and which information that you are given to trust, that it makes for a very interesting read.
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I might give this one another try at a later date (and if I do, I will update this review), but right now this just isn't for me. I went in expecting fantasy because the cover and the description kinda lean that way, but it is dystopian and I just wasn't feeling it. The first little bit was too much info dump for my tastes, but like I said, I might come back to this and try again later. If you like dystopian, this one might be up your alley so I definitely don't want to discourage anyone from trying this out - it just wasn't for me at this time.
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Sev’s mother was a traitor to her people and also to her daughter. After her father and sister were killed, Sev alone suffers the ignominy of her mother’s betrayal. Born into the First Class, Sev has now dropped down to Fourth, is forced to live in an orphanage and must work in a canning factory. To remind everyone of the treachery, her mother’s body is held in suspended animation, encased in glass above the gate to the city. 

When an explosion is blamed on Sev, she finds herself on the run with a boy who is willing to help her escape. As they leave the city, they must survive attacks from horrible creatures and monstrous people infected with a virus. Another threat is from the Reds, soldiers from the city, who are patrolling the Outside territory searching for the girl, whom the city has declared to be a traitor just like her mother. 

Similar to other dystopian books, the girl is special and wanted by both the authorities and the rebels. She gets help from a handsome male and yet isn’t sure if he can be trusted. Her loyalties are strong and she refuses to just accept the facts as those in authority present them.  There isn’t much new in this tale.

It would have helped if the world-building had been established more completely at the very outset, although things do fall into place later on. The characters are too shallow, and they seem to lack passion and commitment. Instead, there’s little emotion, even in family relationships. The romantic entanglements are subtle, almost tepid. This lack of feeling fails to fully engage readers. If people are a little confused at the beginning, the plague situation contributes even more to any consternation. This is a less than outstanding first book in a series. Hopefully Sangster will have enough momentum in her next book to satisfy her readers.
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I liked the initial set up. This world is set up with clear rules, structure and hings of manipulation and societal secrets from the very beginning. Characterization is decent, strong for a few characters, adequate for most. Initially I was very engaged with the plot, but as the novel progressed I found it a little wearying, perhaps a bit bloated.
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Reading this book, I could imagine the author, who is a white American woman with a background in East Asian Studies, reading a bunch of popular YA dystopian novels (The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.), and thinking, "Hey, I can do that!". And for the most part, she was right: She CAN do that. Overall, Last Star Burning is an enjoyable entry in the YA dystopian genre. I was impressed by Sangster's writing and world-building, and I appreciated the Asian influences -- especially the fact that nearly all the characters are Asian, or at least of Asian descent in what appears to be a far-future Earth.

What brought this book down for me were some problems with the pacing and plotting in the back half. Things started to feel very rushed, while losing steam at the same time. The first half concentrates on Sev's life in the city and subsequent journey through the wilderness outside, en route to "The Mountain", where answers and rebel forces lie. These sections are evocative, original, well-paced, and propulsive. The second half, covering What Happens After That, has markedly less of those four qualities. It's hard to explain why, without giving too much away! But where I was glued to the pages earlier, I found these latter sections tedious, and the various twists rather predictable. And, again, rushed.

I will definitely read the next installment when it comes out. Sangster is a very promising writer, and will surely get over some of her "First Book Problems."
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This book was a fantastic debut! At first, I wasn't sure what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised. I would probably categorize the story as dystopian rather than fantasy. Although some elements may seem similar to other series like Divergent or The Hunger Games, Last Star Burning was also able to stand out on its own as unique. 

I was drawn in right from the beginning: "They say war is no dinner party. Not refined, graceful, courteous, or magnanimous. It's complete devastation." What an opening. It effectively sets the tone for most of the story while incorporating an allusion to Chinese culture - as the author notes at the end of the book. 

Sev's voice was strong, and I was rooting for her through the entire book. The details woven in about her past kept me intrigued. There was not a dull moment in this book; Sangster did a wonderful job with the pacing, finding a balance between action and world-building. The Sleeping Beauty parallels added to the uniqueness of the tale. 

The romance was not overwhelming, but it was there. The characters were given time to develop feelings for each other, and it didn't seem too much like insta-love. I think it was a good balance.

The only thing I really had a difficult time with was perhaps Sev's mother at the end. I didn't fully understand what the tubes did to her - why, scientifically, did that have to be her outcome? But this is a very small thing compared to how rich the book is as a whole.

I could tell that a lot of thought and creativity was put into this book. The fact that Sangster built up her idea around a real disease, encephalitis lethargica, enriches the entire story. It would be truly terrifying if something like this were weaponized as imagined in this book. The end left me eager for the next installment!

*Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. (This review is also posted on my Goodreads account.)
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Unfortunately, I was not able to finish this book. I was under the impression that it was a fantasy novel but reads more like SCi-Fi. Thank you for the opportunity!
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Such an interesting concept. Totally something I'd recommend to my students.
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Last Star Burning is a Young Adult/Post Apocalyptic novel much like the Fifth Wave but with a different storyline. This world is divided by class, ruled by the corrupted leaders who very well divided the people in the first place. The city is plagued with an incurable disease that can cause madness, which can be only be controlled by a drug called Mantis. Unfortunately, that drag is also controlled by the government.

It is believed that Sev’s mother is responsible for spreading this disease. Charged as a traitor and now imprisoned and displayed for the world to see. A reminder of what can happen if you break the law. Sev is also branded as a “low starred civilian” but also known as the daughter of a traitor. This has been her life, but there’s more to the story. Things are not what they seem. Secrets, government conspiracy, uprising rebels, and possible love interest.

The world building was slow to start but well detailed in which I was able to immerse myself into. The twists and turns at 70% were unexpected and the pace from there was go, go, go! I found that the main characters also had good build ups. Sev is an amazing character; a child who survives an ordeal and is a survivor down to her bone. You get to see her get stronger as you read on with the book. However, I would’ve like to get to know the secondary character a little more. I kept looking for more information about them, perhaps more background, but it felt a little short. Perhaps, I just wanted more of the story in all.

Last Star Burning is a debut novel worth checking out. I”m very excited about this series. This book has a good start and a promise of an even better follow up. I wish this author much luck in her new adventure.
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When we were given the chance to participate in this Last Star Burning book tour I was intrigued. The synopsis was great and I was looking forward to some kind of epic fantasy adventure. Like a lot of early reviewers I looked at the cover and took the book as some sort of fantasy novel. What I got in the end, though, was even better than that.

Last Star Burning isn’t really fantasy adventure but instead a dystopian, science fiction thriller — which is great because I love science fiction. The book rehashes a few of the usual dystopian tropes and then flips them on their heads to create a unique, captivating story. I enjoyed that angle a lot in part because the trend in young adult fiction has actually been moving away from ‘traditional’ dystopias recently.

Author Caitlin Sangster creates her own unique society with it’s own complex problems. There’s a very structured, almost tyrannical society that pits itself against not just the rest of the world but a devastating illness that’s ravaged the entire world. On the outside, there’s a group of rebels whose own motivations waver between survival and retribution. And as the story progresses you really have to sit back and wonder who the good guys are.

One of the great things about Last Star Burning is how much the story keeps you guessing.

People’s motivations are never entirely clear. Much like the main character, Sev, we’re never sure who to trust and as the book progresses we become less and less certain. And the truth about things – especially the devastating sleeping sickness at the center of this entire society –  can take a long time to reach the surface. While the story sometimes drags on in the first third of the book, that sense of almost mystery keeps you wanting more.

Another thing that keeps you reading is Sev herself. She’s a great main character – especially for a dystopian story like this. So often we see our heroines as strong-willed characters who are already secretly looking to rebel against society. Sev, however, is not that kind of person. She has been raised most of her life thinking that she is an abomination – the daughter of a terrorist who literally destroyed the world by releasing this sleeping sickness that drives people mad and sends them to their grave.

She buys into that story and she accepts the status quo.

Sev wants to be a loyal comrade, loyal to the city and society that completely shuns her. Her rebellion doesn’t start out as her own choice. Instead when she’s blamed by the city for a bombing she never could have orchestrated she has to go on the run with a series of new allies – none of whom we know whether or not can be trusted. And when it comes down to it she hardly just buys into the rebel cause which is a nice change from a lot of stories where our heroines jump right into things, championing a noble cause to fight back and liberate the oppressed masses.

In the end, there are dark truths to almost everything in Sev’s world and the journey towards her discovery is wrought with devastating revelations. It makes a for a really great story and it makes Sev’s ultimate development into a real, strong heroine even more compelling.

The sleeping sickness angle was interesting and the truth about it even more so as it’s revealed slowly throughout the book. There’s a lot of fairy tale allusions that come along with it which I think played into the misdirect that kept me thinking this could still be a vaguely fantasy-related story for at least the first like fifth of the story. 

But one of the coolest things about Last Star Burning is it’s obvious Eastern influence. The author drew upon her own experiences living abroad in China and Taiwan to help flesh out her unique world. The names, characters, and a fair bit of the world building lend themselves to some great East Asian-influenced imagery. It’s a welcome change to the usual dystopian stories which tend to emulate Western societies. And the author’s obvious reverence toward the cultures that inspired her help really bring the world to life.

Last Star Burning keeps you wondering until the end — and it’s quite the ending. As always with series you need to keep in mind that the story will continue. If you’re looking for a satisfying resolution at the end this book isn’t necessarily going to give that to you. Yes, the conflicts and mysteries all come to a head and many of the burning questions you have about who can be trusted and who is really telling the truth may be unveiled. But all that does is beg more questions and lead Sev and her friends (and the reader) down a whole new path with a whole new line of questioning.

Thrilling and full of twists, Last Star Burning is an adventure dystopian young adult fans won’t want to miss!

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Last Star Burning, by debut author Caitlin Sangster, is the first installment in the authors Last Star Burning series. For the past 8 years, Sevvy Jiang has been labeled as a Fourth Class citizen all because the City Proletariat claims that her own mother betrayed the city by infecting her own daughter with the so called encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness. A sickness that can only be settled with a drug called Mantis. Sevvy has been branded with a star seared into her flesh as a way to indicate that she is the daughter of a traitor, and has been forced to undergo indoctrination. 

Sevvy is the last remaining member of her family since her mother currently hangs in stasis in a place called Traitor's Arch. Sevvy's only real friend, Tai-ge, is the second son of the family who is supposed to re-educate her back into society. Yet, he is still a second class citizen, or a Red as they are called. But, after a bomb is dropped by what the city claims is an enemy plane nearly killing her and Tai-ge, Sevvy finds that she has become the enemy of the city. Only one person actually believes that she is innocent. That is the son of the Chairman. 

Howl and Sevvy set out for a destination called the Mountain, where Howl claims that answers can be found. The road to the mountain is fraught with danger, and the promise of safety in the mountain may in fact be an illusion after Sevvy discovers some shocking and eye opening secrets. Sevvy's only real true ally might in fact be an outsider named June, and a medic named Sole who helps her when things looked their most darkest. 

Sevvy is a genuinely decent character who remains strong willed despite all of the issues that have been laid at her feet. One could state that Last Star Burning is influenced by the author’s experiences in China. The story is set against the back drop of a post-apocalyptic world where deception, lies, and propaganda rule the day. Where the First class actually drops bombs on its own citizens while blaming an unseen enemy. The stigma behind the sleeping sickness really does lay heavily over this story. It gives it a bit of a darker feel to it since nobody is immune. 

The author gets an A for her world building, an A for a very well thought out plot line, and an A for writing such a fantastic character in Sevvy. It is Sevvy's struggle to understand a whole new reality that is vastly different from what she was told by those who pretended to know better than she did. Her voice doesn't waiver, but gets strong as the story rushes towards a somewhat cliffhanger ending. Shatter the Suns, which is apparently the sequel, releases fall of 2018.
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This book is more post apocalyptic than fantasy, regardless, this story was stunning! This book is fast paced and it's non stop action till the end. We follow Sev's journey in discovering the truth about her mother, the government, and why she was branded a traitor. It's hard to trust anyone in this story. The government wants to pin Sev as the prime suspect of a major event just for being the daughter of a traitor.

Sev is very clever and sharp. I really enjoyed reading from her point of view as she navigates through the truth and lies of her society. I loved the setting as well. It was so well thought out. This book kept me up late at night because I wanted answers to the many questions I had. I can't wait for book 2!
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This novel was pure young adult perfection! While it's being marketed as a fantasy, I (like many other reviewers) felt this fell more under the realm of a science fiction/dystopian world with fairy tale elements, and it was absolutely brilliant. I had a hard time putting this book down; it had non-stop action, bigger than life characters, and a setting that was so unique and exquisite it was to die for. As the first in a new series, there was a good bit of world building, but it wasn't the typical info dump that causes most debuts to slow down and lose readers along the way. I'm not sure what else to say other than I loved, loved, LOVED IT! Between the gorgeous cover and the perfect balance of all the elements I look for in an epic saga, this one was an excellent introduction to the new series and my greedy little hands are already doing the gimmie shimmie. Please do yourself the favor of picking Last Star Burning up if it's your type of story; you'll be wowed and thrilled to bits.
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Last Star Burning was such a delight to read! This book was a nonstop adventure that I couldn't stop reading! Sangster created a gripping and addictive novel full of action and mystery. There wasn't a single moment in this book that bored me. I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN!!!! I seriously stayed up so late finishing this book AND I HAVE ZERO REGRETS!!!

The dystopian world the author created in this novel was so immersive and unique. There were so many interesting elements to the world that kept presenting impossible obstacles for the characters and gripping mysteries. I loved the political intrigue and web of lies that the characters got tangled in. I never knew who to trust and I constantly was on the edge of my seat. THERE ALSO WAS SO MUCH ACTION THAT I LITERALLY WAS BITING MY NAILS OUT OF FEAR. This book made my heart race and constantly fear for the lives of the characters. IT WAS BRILLIANT. I was fascinated by the world and the plot of this story.

The main character, Sev, was a brilliant main character. Sev was hilarious, clever, resourceful, fierce, and loyal. I LOVED HER SO MUCH. She grew so much throughout the book and learned so much about herself. I loved watching her go on her personal journey. I also loved all the interactions she had with other characters in this story. Sev was such a dynamic characters that any conversation she had was brilliant. I NEED MORE SEV IN MY LIFE. 

There was some slight romance in this book, but it never was a huge plot point. The romance was a slow burn that was full of sassy banter that created some great tension. I loved that the romance was presented throughout the story in little moments that never overshadowed the dangers and mystery that the characters should have been worried about. I SHIPPED THE ROMANCE SO MUCH, BUT I HAVE SOME CONFLICTING FEELINGS. THERE WAS A LOT OF TENSION AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. I NEED THOSE ANSWERS ASAP!!!!

Overall, this book was an utterly captivating and mesmerizing novel. This definitely is one of my favorite dystopian novels out there! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a high-stakes dystopian novel with plenty of mystery and brilliant characters!


5 / 5 Fangs

*This ebook was given to me in exchange for an honest review. *
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Branded as a traitor for her mother’s actions, Sev’s life is spent paying for sins that are not her own. The complex society with roots in China’s Cultural Revolution is defined by a world where you are your class. Part Sleeping Beauty, part dystopian; the strength of the world building is matched by the complex and fierce characters. A must read! 

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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Sev was branded as a traitor and criminal when she was only eight years old, her only crime being her mother’s daughter. Sev’s mother had betrayed their entire nation and now her body is displayed in a paralyzed half-sleep above Traitor’s Arch for all to see what happens when going against the city. Sev’s mother had brought the same plague into their safe zone that now keeps her on display reminding all those of her crimes.

When Sev is out with her only friend who still treats her as if she is still the same girl before being branded a bomb explodes injuring them both. When Sev awakens she finds that the government is putting the blame for the bomb directly upon her so she must either run or stay and possibly be killed for being a traitor.

Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster is the first book in the new Last Star Burning young adult fantasy series. Wonderfully written this series starts off a quick pace building the world and introducing the characters then jumps right into the action that is non-stop from beginning to end. There was never a dull moment following Sev along on her journey and the whole story grabbed me right from the beginning and didn’t let go.

Sev is a rather strong character having grown up being told her mother was a traitor and that she must continue to pay for those sins. She’s one to skirt the rules and make her own way and when things got tough she got even tougher to be able to handle them. The other characters in the story were also well done all throughout. And the overall story is one to keep you on the edge of your seat so that as soon as you think you have it figured out there is another twist to the story and more action to follow.

In the end I’d definitely recommend checking out this new action packed adventure of a fantasy read and will be impatiently waiting to learn more of these characters and this world in the next installment myself.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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