Ignite the Stars

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Aug 2018

Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a digital ARC of "Ignite the Stars" by Maura Milan. I have noticed in recent years that YA Science Fiction has started to blend. Most of the characters and plot are the same but not with this book. It feels fresh and exciting. The book does read more for a teen audience rather than a crossover for adult and that is the only reason I didn't personally feel connected but I know teens will. I will be purchasing this book for the library that I work at.
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Not just solid YA sci-fi, but some of the best sci-fi I've read in a while!  Great characters, plot, everything.  Thoroughly enjoyable.
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A wonderful debut that is exciting and intriguing. I mainly requested because of the hype and am so excited that it does not dissapoint.
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The following really be posted on my blog on June 5, 2018.
I can’t give a number on how many stories I have read that involves space, but a criminal mastermind in space was something new. Stories in space in general have always been a weird topic for me because I’ll either like it or I won’t like it. Ignite the Stars fell in the middle.

Although Ignite the Stars is a good debut book, I was constantly feeling that something was missing. I kept wanting something to happen and never received it. In the beginning, it seemed a bit slow for me and I was always waiting for something to happen to set everything off. Perhaps I wanted a secret to be revealed, or a fight to come out to set the tension. Instead, nothing came to set anything. All it left me was time spent waiting.

As I continue to read the story, things finally picked up at a little past halfway, but nothing dramatic still hasn’t happened. I expected there would have been some twist by now to make me want to keep reading. We’re reading about a space criminal mastermind, there has to be a twist somewhere. I couldn’t even predict or produce a single thought on which direction the story was going or how the story was even going to end.

The only twist that happened occurred during right before last quarter of the story. It was shocking, but I thought it could have been better. Did I see it coming? No, not really. Could it been expected? Probably. Along with the story, every piece of detail could have been executed better, but still stands at being a good debut novel. I have hopes that the next book will be better, but I am currently unsure if I would like to continue onto the next book.

At end, if you like space stories, criminal masterminds, military academies, then this could be the story for you. If you’re seeking a thrill ride, with twists left and right, you may still want to read it, but lower you expectations. The story is overall good, but could use some improvements.
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IGNITE THE STARS was a wild book from start to finish. My only complaint is that it felt like too much with the three POVs in the beginning, but later on, they just made the book. The VOICE, guys, oh my gosh, it was so real and so good. I can't wait for book 2!
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While sci-fi is not my go-to genre, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I found this book to be a fantastic read. As previous reviews may have mentioned, fans of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles will certainly find an appreciation for this story in not only the riveting storytelling, but the representation reflected in it as well.
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Fantastic YA sci-fi - great premise with flawed characters (in a good way!) with loads of action and adventure. Highly recommended if you like YA like The Lunar Chronicles.
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I received a copy of Ignite The Stars from Netgalley. I'm not that much of a space fiction fan, but the cover won me over. I love the colours in the galaxy, it's so pretty. And I also liked the fact that the most famous rebel in the universe is presumed to be a man, and not a girl.

This book is #ownvoices for Asian representation (story is set in space).


Maura Milan has created a beautiful sci-fi story. I seriously don't like stories set in space that much, because I often find that the characterisation of the different aliens is lazy and stereotypical. Not with Ignite the Stars! There were also biracial (as in different alien ethnicities for want of a better word) characters, and I thought that the representation was on point. Since there were two biracial characters, the reader is shown that the way they act isn't how all biracial people act.

While there is a romance, I really loved that the Ia's friendship to another character is more important to her. It's refreshing to read a story where friendship is not undermined by romance.

I like how it was made very clear that this takes place in the future. Ia listens to the classics, which she states is heavy metal. It's interesting to realise that in a few hundred years, the music we consider modern will actually be considered classical. It's surreal!

One part that I found very profound was where a character mentioned that once the Olympus Commonwealth passes the law to send refugees back, it's only a matter of time that people who come from the same planet but aren't refugees will be sent back. This is something that's so important to realise, and it applies to our real world as well!

There is a huge emphasis on the refugee crisis in space, and what is being done about it. This is in connection with the slavery plotline. I hope that the next book will focus on some of the characters who are refugees or slaves.

It's mentioned very casually that the rulers of the Olympus Commonwealth are Queens who are married to each other. It was lovely to read this and not have it become a big issue in the story.

I did NOT see the plot twists coming. The plot is one of the best. I enjoyed it so much. I felt for Ia during every loss, betrayal, win, and success. Not everything is black-and-white in this book, there are so many grays and some things are done better by one group and worse by the other, and vice versa.

There were some ableist words.


Ignite the Stars is a story that emphases belonging, knowing, and finding oneself. It discusses current political topics in a fictional space system.

Trigger warnings: violence, murder, slavery.
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This was a book I really wanted to like, but I have rather mixed feelings about. The pacing really bothered me – it felt choppy, character development felt way too long to set in, and I almost DNF’d it around 25% (I didn’t start really getting into it until around 30%). I understand why the author set the story up the way she did, but I think it ultimately took away from validity of the MC. 

     Pros: that aside, I think Milan did a great job setting up the political undercurrents of the world. She also did a great job balancing the various POVs – there weren’t so many that it was overwhelming, and there was just enough to flesh out each character at various points throughout the book.

     Cons: Our MC is supposed to be a ruthless anti-hero with a rarely seen streak of compassion, but the first third of the book felt more “tell” than “show” – the MC says a lot of things, with few examples to prove them. It wasn’t until past the first third of the book that she started to emerge as the character she describes herself as.

     Overall thoughts: I’m not sure if I would pick up the sequel. While there were some great aspects to this book, I don’t know if it was enough to save it as a series (for me, personally). 

Note: This e-ARC sampler was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. But thank you so much Albert Whitman & Company!!!

Rating: 3.5/5
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This is a space adventure packed with action, tension, mystery, intrigue and a main character who packs a huge punch. In other words, this was a thrill to read!

Ia Coche is the most feared name in the galaxy, one everyone knows and fears. When Ia Coche is finally captured, no one can believe the most dangerous rebel is a seventeen-year-old girl. The Commonwealth gives her two options: life-long sentence in a hellish prison or enrollment at the highly elicit Military Academy. When she walks into the academy, no one is ready for her, but then, she isn't there to deal with any of them. Determined to escape, she starts to work on a plan, but as the layers of intrigue behind her capture, and the real reason she's been enrolled into the school unfold, everything she ever believed comes into question. Still, she is Ia Coche, and all who stand against her will learn the real meaning of fear.

This book captures and shoots off with pure adventure into the stars. Ia Coche is a true space rogue and adventurer. She is tough and will not let anyone get in her way. Her past is violent, and she has tons of blood on her hands. But even in the first chapter it's clear, she's fighting a war for those who can't fight on their own. This lone hero against all odds makes her very easy to cheer for and like, although her personality definitely has its fill of rough edges. 

While this story centers around Ia Coche, the other characters have their own personal tales, challenges, desires and obstacles. The books is written from several points of view, allowing each of these subplots to mold and develop as they carefully weave with Ia Coche's. There are characters to love, some to hate, and some who rock back and forth. It gives the story richness and depth, making each character grow on the reader along the way.

Action is key followed closely by intrigue. Ia Coche is a teenager placed in an academy, but this is not the average teenage drama tale. There are friendships, a very light dusting of something which might be considered romance, and rivalries, but this only helps to make the academy scene more realistic. Ia Coche's battle to discover her true enemies and uncover a web of intrigue, while fighting for her freedom remain at the center of the tale—bright and clear. There are emotional moments, ones which get under the skin and make Ia Coche and the others more realistic, but they perfectly balance with high tension and exciting scenes. There is never a boring or slow moment in these pages.

Summed up, this is a fantastic science fiction read with a heroine to root for. Friends of space adventure, tension, political intrigue, evil plots and a heroine to take on all of them, are going to enjoy this one from beginning to end.
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Can we please appreciate the cover first? Because not only do I really like it colour-wise, but there is a POC on the cover. All the thumbs up for that.
But now, let’s get to the story. Even though I needed quite a long time to get into it, I just read 3/4 of the book in one sitting because… wow. What took me so long in the beginning was that the story is told in three POVs and that each chapter is another character. That made it hard for me to get really into that character in the beginning. But the more the plot developed, the more I got to know the characters and because they all interacted with each other, it was then easy to follow their stories.

Ia certainly is one fierce character. Even though she is never described as being of Asian heritage (at least I think so?), I always imagined her that way, thanks to the cover. In the beginning we already get to know her as a killer with a good heart, even though most people only see the killer and not the good heart. When she is captured and brought to Aphelion, her enemies’ military academy, she tries everything to escape at first. But her brother convinces her to stay and get informations. So she stays but things do not go as planned: she finds friendship and also something more.
What I liked about Ia’s chapters was her development and how she herself felt it and described it. How she went from not-caring to caring-very-much. But she stays herself through it all: sassy and brave, smart and quick.

The second POV is from Brinn, Ia’s roommate in Aphelion. She is not exactly happy about this, but she soon finds, that it isn’t all that bad, especially when Ia discovers Brinn’s secret. Slowly trust and friendship blossom between the two girls and even though this friendship has its ups and downs, it is a wonderful one. Brinn is extremely clever and so the two make a great team: Brinn the mind, Ia the fighter. Where Ia is hotheaded and talks with fists rather than her mouth, Brinn is more calm and analytical.
Brinn also gets a great character development: from being insecure, she learns and accepts who she is.

The third protagonist is knives, the Flight Master of the academy and son to a powerful General. Who is also the general who captured Ia. He does not take any shit from Ia and knows just as well where to put a fist, if necessary. Even though the two of them are constantly at each other’s throats, they too, slowly grow together. I liked his character instantly because I liked the way he thinks and the motives that get him going.

But not only the characters were amazing, the plot was as well. Even though I still have not completely understood why Ia has to attend Aphelion, I am glad she did. Because so many components come together to form their story around Ia and her associates. And those plot twists? Damn. They really got to me.
The whole book was fast paced, but especially the last 100 pages were intense and I could not get my eyes away from the pages. So much happened. I just wish I could read how the story goes on right now.

The only thing I would have liked to see more of is the general world building. The essentials were there, but I would really like to know more about how the Commonwealth works, how they treat their colonies, who and what the slaver nations are and who exactly are the criminal associates of Ia’s? And how Dark Space and normal space are interwined and work together or not?

Apart from this, I just loved everything. Even though this is a debut, it did not feel like it. The writing was great and easy to read and understand. The characters were wonderful and so was the plot. What a furious debut. Just… give me more of this.
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Sigh. This book...my feelings are still sort of mixed on it. I think the reason for that is the whole time I was reading it felt more like I was reading a middle novel, not a starter book. So I wanted to know and love these characters and this world but I kept getting the sense like I was already supposed to know them, as if I was missing something. This book had so much potential, I just feel it didn't quite live up to it.

The world the author was trying to create is an intriguing one, and I wish that I would've been able to imagine it, but honestly the descriptions were sorely lacking. I felt lost a lot of the time, trying to grasp a hold of time, place and setting not really getting where or what all was going on. Again, I think it's because the whole book read like a middle piece and not like a beginning. There was no exposition. No setting up of the initial story or how this world came to be. You get the impression this is a future version of our current world but no real idea of how it got that way, how the new politics work, the new culture, the language idioms. Things are mixed together in a way that just don't quite fit. I did enjoy the futuristic space/greco-roman vibe everything had going, but would've loved more depth to it all so I could understand it.

The characters had the same problem, not enough depth. There were glimpses but not enough exploration. No true delving into backstories at all. Again, it seemed like you were already supposed to know them from the get-go. And I can officially say that Ia is the first heroine I've read who I've hated and rooted for at the same time. While I wanted her to succeed at certain points because I admired her tenacity and unwilingness to give up, I also disliked her mean-sprited, self-absorbed personality that near the end was bordering on psychotic with her willingness to harm others. Plus, the idea that as 17-year-old girl she could battle and kill so many people almost singlehandedly seemed beyond even fantastical stretching. She is not an easy to like heroine to say the least. Honestly I would call Brinn more of the heroine for this book than Ia. She had more of a transformation and growth process, along with a defined personality change that was meaningful. And her romantic plot-line was very sweet and understated.

The romance in this book isn't the main focus, but I liked it that way. This book seemed to focus more on the bonds of genuine relationship and trust, which Ia had never experienced and so her relationship with Brinn as a friend took more focus than her romantic relationship. But the chemistry between Ia and Knives develops slowly in the moments they do share together, leading to a romance that could be a really good one if it gets even more development. Knives (despite his unfortunate name) was a good character on his own, although sometimes the way he talked about his sister made me cringe a little. If there's one character I would've liked to have seen more of, it's him. His and Ia's interactions were usually funny and interesting and were the only times when most of the interesting or meaningful things would happen out so I really did enjoy those moments in the book.

I was surprised that this book also contained a fair bit of unnecessary cursing. Of course it was "veiled" using the books different language so the word "mif" comes up a lot. Which is just a blanket for multiple versions of our cuss words. To be honest I just don't think that cursing adds a lot, or anything, to the text. There are so many ways for characters to express frustration, disappointment, surprise, anger, so it doesn't need to be used.

Overall I still think this book has a lot of potential and I'm hoping that maybe the next book in the series will improve upon this first one. With some extra character development and greater world building I could really see this being a great series. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
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Great read, fun protagonist, and wonderful setting. Would recommend.
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I was only a few pages into Ignite the Stars when I got the sinking feeling that I knew this story. Ignite the Starsis a very average young adult science-fiction story with a lot of familiar elements. And I mean ‘a lot.’

Do you recognise any of these tropes and traits: a prickly, mercenary female character, caught and imprisoned and given a chance to redeem herself? A school-like environment built upon competition? An inappropriate love-interest that becomes an insta-love situation when said female character shows amazing skills that others don’t have? Roommates who can’t stand each other?

They’re all in here, plus more. And they’re not bad things to include in a story - it just felt like it has all been done before and there wasn’t sufficient depth or exploration of any of them to make me feel like I was invested in the story, or the characters.

If we want to get technical, there’s nothing wrong with the story or the writing style - it’s alright. It’s easy to read and I’m sure there will people out there who really enjoy this story, especially if you're fans of Throne of Glass or Zenith. It just wasn’t what I was after in a science-fiction story and so I was left disappointed.

Ignite the Stars is due to be released early September, 2018.
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An exciting ya sci-fi novel that fans of Marissa Meyer and Lauren James will like.
It’s very fast paced and full of action, and la is a cool character. 
I’m not really a huge sci-fi fan but this has enough other story elements to keep me hooked.
Thank you to Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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" She was a dark star, a black hole in the endless sky, and if he got too close, he would surely disappear" 

I could think for hours and write a 10 pages review, I think it would not be enough to say how much I loved this book. I am not a sci-fi girl, or more, I didn't use to be. Then, the Illuminae files happened and I gave the genre a chance. It is books like Ignite the stars that make it worth it. 
After only a few pages, I was hooked. There is no break or slow time in this book, something is always happening. You can't get bored reading it, you will just want more and more til the last page is turned!
The world building itself is pretty good too, even if I would have loved even more space description: there is a rich vocabulary, technological tools we can only dream ( or be afraid) of, spaceships, darkness...well everything you want to read in sci fi!
Now for the characters! Ia Cocha is a great main character and her sidekicks are just as interesting! They are all a bit infuriating time to time, but it is with that you recognize good characters! Because they will make you feel with them! They just grow in depth with every page, becoming more and more complex with time.
Speaking of complexity, can we talk about how this book will turn your mind? There is no good or bad side here, only shades of grey. You think you have it right, you think you know who to trust and then... you discover that it is not as simple as just having the good ones fighting the bad guys. So in the end, who can you trust? 
I will finally speak of another aspect I loved about this book: how relevant it is to what we are living right now with immigration issues and the way immigrants are treated. Diversity is there, and people can be racist, even in space!
So yes, this book will bring you thrills, emotions and much more! GO READ IT !

Review coming on my blog on March 23rd!
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Sci fi books its always a surprise for me, I never know what kind of book I´ll read when I start a sci fi one.

I love the genre, but not everyone knows how to write a sci fi story. Its a chalenge in itself.

But Maura was up to the chalenge and this one was a good book.

I think the beginning was a little slow, but it gets better, and its really fast paced.
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Think Throne of Glass in space, with a hint of Divergent mixed in. I adored this book,it has everything i could have wanted: a kick ass heroin, explosive action and great character development. This is one to add to your must read lists.
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Ignite the Stars is an interesting read, but you really have to stick with it to the end to feel satisfied, and even then, I had a million questions. I was actually close to DNF-ing it early into the book because of how many I had. But after I got through certain parts and the action picked up, I found myself more engaged than when I started. It's not a bad story, nor is the writing terrible. Just left me with a lot of questions and needing more to really help me in understanding what was happening. 

The story is told in three points of view: Ia, Brinn, and Knives. The characters overall are pretty developed and are compelling in their own ways. Ia is very interesting, but I needed the author to flush out details and explain a whole heck of a lot more with her. She just wasn't relatable nor could I understand how she became the way she was. I definitely started to care later and in random points throughout the story. But I needed so much more to understand how this girl got so many stories under her belt. Or how she learnt all of those impossible things she did in the book.

I actually really liked Brinn. I didn't think I would when we first meet her. She just didn't seem remarkable or very original. In the academy, as she learns more about herself and her heritage, I enjoyed her chapters and seeing her character develop. Brinn hids her Tawny genes by dying her normally blue hair brown. She doesn't find pride in that side of her family, only shame, especially when those around her blame the Tawny for their struggles or see the refugees as criminals. I found her unique and interesting by the end of the story and definitely appreciated her all the more for her relationship with Ia.

Knives... of the three, I think he's the one I like the least. He just didn't stand out to me. Nothing about him was particularly interesting. I think the one thing I enjoyed the most that had him involved was Knives's banter with Ia. They're definitely brilliant together. Other than that, I don't know how much the story would have suffered without him. Maybe that's a harsh assessment, and I don't want to leave out that I did start to like him more by the end. But if I had to wait to the end to really appreciate his presence, I don't know how much I cared for his part for the rest of the story. I do hope I like him more in any future stories.

You really jump into the action. The author really didn't explain enough in the beginning for me to understand what was really happening. I got the gist as I read more but I really wanted more explained. Like how Ia became the way she is in more detail, or her crew, or who her allegiances were to specifically. I wanted to know so much more than I was told. I really think more should have been detailed in the beginning for things to make sense later.

And then you have the random things that kind of stay with you. Why is there a Moon prison specifically for rapists and sexual deviants? Why would they threaten to sentence someone who didn't commit those crimes to that prison for 120 years? Why... Why did Knives call the headmaster by his first name, despite not being at remotely close to his rank?

In the summary, it says that this is perfect for fans of The Lunar Chronicles. I didn't see a lot in common other than it being in space, to be honest. I mean, if you take the complex characters in space and a larger enemy, then yeah, they're similar. But beyond that, I didn't see the connection. I did, however, see similarities between Ignite the Stars and Throne of Glass. Ia is very similar to Celaena, personality- and story-wise. They both were thrusted into the life they're living, they both have to work with the "enemy", and they end up caring more than they'd like to admit. Plus, there's an evil force working to subject others to harsh conditions. If you like Throne of Glass, you might enjoy this book more. I definitely found myself comparing Ignite the Stars more to that series than The Lunar Chronicles.

At the end of it, I think what bothered me the most was how much potential this book had. It wasn't bad and the characters were pretty cool. But I had too many questions, or something would bother me enough that I kept on remembering it. By the end, there's a new enemy, but the relationships that develop because of it just confused me. I thought I understood the reasoning of certain characters, but then I was second guessing everything when I finished the book.

I would recommend Ignite the Stars, but I would take it with a grain of salt. Like I said, there's a lot of potential, and I hope future stories utilize it, but with this book, it just wasn't there for me. I will be reading any sequels, in hopes that the author explains things further. Ia is an interesting character and I want a whole heck of a lot more of Brinn.
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In many ways, Ignite the Stars is like a mashup of many different YA novels. I found so many similarities with other books: a strong female lead who is put into an environment where everyone despises her, like in Throne of Glass; said strong female and a love interest (who also comes in the form of her instructor) is accompanied by other compatriots to fight evil, like in Divergent; a classist and racist futuristic universe where superpowers are battling for control over planets, like in Illuminae; very similar characters with the same personality and talents to the characters in Cinder. The similarities go on and on. It almost makes me wonder whether YA novels are slowly losing creative material.

Ia Cocha is a 17-year-old girl from a planet that the Olympus Commonwealth tore apart. Since then, as an outlaw, she has masterminded numerous plots to take down the Commonwealth. When she is finally captured, the Commonwealth forces her to attend the most prestigious military academy in hopes of utilizing her piloting talents for military service. She meets her roommate Brinn and her Flight Master Knives (what kind of a name is Knives), and pretends to comply with the academy's rules, slowly plotting her escape. Friendships are formed, alliances are questioned, and true enemies.

Maura Milan effortlessly creates a world of injustice and strife. Ignite the Stars features characters from all different planets who are divided in the aftermath of a war. The Commonwealth greedily seizes new planets that they discover, forcefully taking in the residents, exactly like colonialism. The foreigners are safe under a refugee policy that the citizens want to remove. Blatant racism transpires against refugees from other planetary regions.

The cast of characters is well-written, but not my favourite. Ia is strong and battle-hardened, with a soft side that cannot help but fight against injustice, which I like. Ia is also suppose to be sarcastic and rebellious, but she just fell flat. Knives (still cannot get over the ridiculous name) is also strong and military-wise, and supposedly a love-interest, but nothing made me click with him.

The only character I really like is Brinn. Her background is complicated, she is intelligent and unique and she brings Ia out of her shell. She is constantly battling an internal war, but is determined to prove her worth. She endures character growth. She is realistic and relatable. The progression of her friendship with Ia is the only authentic character relationship.

All the other of character relationships developed in a rushed and unnatural way. Although it isn't insta-love, Ia and Knives (I cackled at the name) get together very quickly, even though they are supposed to be enemies. Interactions with secondary characters, like Angie and Nero, are unrealistic and very easy to overlook. 

Without genuine characters, of course the dialogue is going to be stilted at times. There isn't enough depth, and the most of the characters aren't developed well enough. 

I feel like the book could've been slightly longer. Action scenes could do with more description, so that I know what exactly is going on. There are some scenes where I didn't understand the mental picture in my head, and there are some holes in the climax of the plot that confused me. The fast-moving plot does make the novel entertaining, and I really did enjoy that massive, unpredictable twist. However, there isn't enough happening in the novel to be absolutely convincing.

The plot may not be unique, and there may be flaws in the writing, but the story-line is still compelling and interested me. Maybe it's because its a blend of a lot of my favourite YA novels, or maybe because of the surprising twist, but I did enjoy Ignite the Stars. Enough to want to pick up a sequel and hope for some improvements.
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