Oh, where do I begin with this book? Such promise! Les Misérables meets The Lunar Chronicles! Did I read the former? No! Do I plan to? Definitely not. (There’s a musical for that, right?) But did I read the latter? You bet I did and I loved it! So what could go wrong? There’s a 50/50 chance this could be great or horrible.
Thanks to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for providing a free, digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Sky Without Stars (System Divine #1)
Author(s): Jessica Brody & Joanna Rendell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: March 26, 2019
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, fantasy
Length: 592 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.
Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…
Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.
Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.
Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.
All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.”
For the record I read the SparkNotes version of Les Mis, thinking it would help me with this book since it’s a “reimagining.” Alas, it did not, lol. For the most part, the plot was well-written, the pacing was fine, too. I’m not saying the premise as a whole was bad; I thought it was engaging. The story revolves around three characters who come from three very different backgrounds. As the story progresses, they come to realize not everything they thought they knew is true. I was intrigued most by Alouette and her story, but I was left feeling a bit empty when the book finished as we don’t get all the answers. I mean, of course we don’t since this book is a series but it felt…unfinished. There was definitely a lot of mystery, and if anything, the only reason I would continue the series is to find out more about Alouette.
Despite my interest in Alouette, I really didn’t care for the other two characters. I found Chatine to be unlikable. She called Alouette a “bimbo” multiple times, basing her dislike of her due to a “gut feeling” and the way Alouette looked. It made me uncomfortable. In a sense, I can see why Chatine is the way she is: her family is horrible, for one, and she’s desperate to leave Laterre. Fine. Whatever. The authors tried to show her in a semi-redeeming light when she helped Marcellus while also spying on him. She isn’t loyal to anyone but herself.
Marcellus was fine, and at times I felt bad for him, for the way he’s treated by his grandfather to the lie he’s been told about his family. I’ll always wonder what it takes to have the guts to go against everything you’ve ever known, and Marcellus is really torn. He wants to hold on to parts of his past even though he’s not sure he believes everything in it, and he doesn’t, in a sense, want to continue with the ways things are going presently.
Alouette was my favorite. She’s smart despite her somewhat sheltered upbringing, and she’s able to make connections to things as the story progresses. She’s known the safe haven of her life and her father for so long, she feels guilty for some of her actions. But she’s soft at heart and as a person, which really makes you root for her in the ending chapters. We don’t get all of her story, and like I said, I would only read the next book just to find out what happens to her.
This book was written by two people. In the middle of reading it, I wondered which author wrote for which character and if they switched back and forth between one. Overall, I liked the writing style. The world-building was good, too, but left me wondering if this was a dystopian, post-apocalyptic society. The world reminded me a tiny bit of Red Rising by Pierce Brown, with its different Estates dictating how the society is run. But I wasn’t blown away by all of it.
Check out these other reviews:
- Rachel at Picture This Literature rated this book the same as me.
- Gemma of Book Beach Bunny thought this book had a lot of potential as a series.
- Shaela (Shaegeeksout on BookTube) filmed a book review, giving the book 4 stars, but wouldn’t necessarily say this book is a Les Mis retelling.