Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.
Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.
Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home–a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I love fairytale retellings so when I saw this new spin (Sorry, I couldn’t resist) on the classic The Wild Swans, by Hans Christian Anderson, I was quite excited. Sadly for me, despite a fascinating plot, and compelling characters, the story got bogged down by a myriad of technical details and convoluted world-building which had me having to re-read passages in order to make sense of things, and let me tell you that’s not easy to do on a Kindle.
Given that this is a science-fiction adaptation of a fairytale, there’s lots of world building. When Spinning Starlight begins, there are eight planets (although other worlds are added later). Travel between them is done through “conduits” which are like transportation portals. The problem is they’re starting to break down. The villain of the piece thinks that by trapping the Jantzen brothers inside them, they can be used as some sort of stabilizing anchor. At least I think that’s the method behind the madness. Even now after I’ve finished the book though, I’m still not sure. This is just one of the many, many things I found confusing. Honestly, I felt like a dunderhead throughout much of the book.
What worked for me though were the characters. I loved Liddi and Tiav. Liddi is this wonderful mix of sass and vulnerability. Great things have always been expected from her, yet so far she hasn’t been able to display any of the technical genius that her older brothers have shown. The story is told from her perspective so the reader is let into all her personal thoughts and feelings. You can completely understand her frustration and insecurity. By the end of the book, she finally comes into her own, and it’s a pleasure to see. Tiav is also a likeable character and even though you don’t get to know him as intimately as Liddi, there’s no doubt he’s courageous and loyal despite battling his own insecurities and responsibilities. The romance takes a backseat through most of the book, which is a good thing because there’s so much going on this would have just been one more unnecessary complication.
I think what I really loved about this book was the relationship between Liddi and her eight older brothers. Because their parents died when Liddi was only six the brothers are extremely protective and caring toward her. Liddi completely adores them yet because of her lack of technical prowess, doesn’t feel like she truly belongs. You can literally feel how much they all love each other, especially when during the passages when Liddi is remembering certain events in her childhood. It not only gives you more insight into her, but also into this rather unique family of geniuses.
I’m giving Spinning Starlight 3.0 stars because due to my own weaknesses concerning technology, I’m just not sure if I’m being completely fair. I think for those of you who are more left brain thinkers, this might be a decent read for you, especially if you like science fiction. I also want to say that this book is supposed to be a companion to the author’s first YA novel Stitching Snow. It’s set in the same universe, but with different characters. Unfortunately I’m left feeling extremely conflicted and frustrated, although because I loved the characters and the premise so much, I probably will try going back and read the first book. Hmph. I hate feeling this way after finishing a book. It makes me quite cranky.