Cover Image: The Secrets of Star Whales

The Secrets of Star Whales

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Member Reviews

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this book!

This was such an amazing read!  Grief, loyalty, and friendship are all important topics for adults but it is especially sweet to see an author introduce these lessons to Middle Grade readers.  Rebecca Thorne takes her readers on an out-of-this world journey with Max as he copes with the loss of his father and deals with with illusive Star Whales.  

Mr. Hames crash-lands into space station Azura and into Max's life.  Max has been coping with the loss of his father as any 12 year old would--with smoke bombs, laughs, and secret music gigs with his bff India.  Yet when red-haired, quirky, lanky Mr. Hames becomes his substitute teacher and offers Max and his class a chance to explore beyond their small space station home, India jumps at the chance--to the disappointment of Max.  Will he join her and the rest of his class to help Mr. Hames protect these beautiful galactic star whales from evil whalers, like Kane, or  will Max stubbornly hold on to the past? For anyone who has lost a parent as a child (or even as an adult), this is the perfect read to remind you of the present and just because you move on does not mean you forget.
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I love middle grade and this one was just great! I always like a book that has a wholesome and sometimes heartbreaking plot. This book gripped my interest the whole time as well as gripped my emotions.
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Once again middle grade stories of wonder and magic are getting me through. This was a wholesome, heart breaking read about a boy who lost his father and the lengths he will go to, to feel close to him again. It was a tale of friendship, grief and self discovery. It had it all.

The Secrets of Star Whales is a beautifully written story that brings our characters to life. Max and India are so well fleshed out and wonderfully written that I couldn't help but love them and feel for them. Max and India have both lost their dad, but the way in which they deal with this is very different. Max has spent the last two years trying to hide his grief and has become a bitter boy who is quite mean and a little selfish, which is wonderfully appropriate given his age. He was a hard character to read, I could completely understand his sorrow, anger and confusion, but damn he was frustrating. I wanted to yell at him and his mother. Max was so well written that I was often cringing at his bad choices.

Mr Hames is an outsider who has the ability to see everything occurring on Azura with fresh eyes and Max finds his insights and outlook threatening to his comfortable existence. He brings a new level of energy to the kids in his class, he brings excitement and wonder, which these kids, already being prepared for their roles as adults, are already losing. He reminds the kids of the wonder of imagination.

 One of my favourite parts of this book was the way music was used to tell a story and express feelings that had otherwise been locked up inside of Max. When he couldn't communicate clearly, he would strum away at his fathers instrument and release the grief and fear he is feeling. 

I enjoyed The Secrets of Star Whales, there was a lot of character growth, all of the characters, even the minor side characters and I really appreciated that. I liked that the story flowed well, it never gets bogged down and although the book deals with some heavy themes and at moments my heart was breaking for the characters, I never wanted to stop reading or needed to take a break. It's a book you can smash through in one sitting. I liked that the story didn't shy away from the hard parts, the angry, spiteful side of Max and the effect his Dad's death had on so many people. It was well balanced by the Star Whales. 

Over all a well written middle grade story. Definitely worth a look.
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Azura was once a famous mining colony for the most revered material in the galaxy, Anemonium. Now a decade later, the supply has practically diminished causing Azura’s highly credited appeal to diminish along with it. Azura is now a calm and quiet space station where 12-year-old Max and his mom live. Max and his best friend India love Azura and couldn’t imagine anything beyond the space station. But one day a unique starship called the Calypso enters Azura and a man named Mr. Hames changes their lives and introduces them to the mystical  creatures called the Star Whales. 

This middle grade book is packed with some wonderful characters, cool sci-fi backdrop, and an adventure beyond the galaxy. I think kids will enjoy this book as their imagination gets taken for a ride. As an adult, I found it a little too predictable in the end but in general kids will love the adventures. 

Thank you NetGalley and North Star Editions for an advanced copy of this book.
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Do you ever look at a book and instantly feel reminded of something else? That's how I felt in the beginning of The Secrets of Star Whales. I instantly thought of Doctor Who but I was pleasantly surprised by how unique this story was. It follows Max and his friends who live on a space station near an asteroid belt. It's the kind of place that no one ever leaves and people rarely come to visit, until a ship clearly in destress reaches Azura and docks. That is the start of a real adventure following a group of twelve year olds and a very reluctant 'teacher' fixing a space ship and heading to the asteroid belt in search of an animal that no one really believes exists. The book is so well written and so fun with it's depictions of space that you're wrapped up in everything happening to the characters. But it doesn't just talk about adventure. The Secrets of Star Whales touches on hard topics as well.

That's the kind of story that Middle Grade readers need. One that can give them everything heart pounding and fun while also teaching them a lesson. Loss affects everyone differently and you see that through Max's eyes with how he deals with his mother being friendly with the Doctor that was unable to save his father, and how Max himself treats a boy that was once his friend. A boy who's only 'crime' (in Max's eyes) is being the son of that doctor. It doesn't gloss over what Max goes through or how he's just seeking a connection to his father in ways that no one else could understand. Rebecca Thorne does a beautiful job weaving all of that into her story while not having it be the main focus.

It's a wonderful book that I would fully recommend and I can't wait for it to come out.
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Cute middle grade science fiction story about a mining colony, way out in the outskirts of space, where Max has lived all his life, and nothing interesting ever happens until the mysterious new teacher shows up, and Max and his friends wonder what he is doing here.

And since the title has already given it away, the new teacher is a whaler, and is searching for star whales, that people think exist, but they can't prove that they do.

The only issue  I have with this book is the title.  Because up until a third of the book we don't know about the Star Whales, we only have hints of them. I almost wish the publisher had chosen a title that didn't give away the mystery.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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