Wednesday, December 26, 2012

And All the Stars, by Andrea K. Höst

Barnes & Noble

Come for the apocalypse.
Stay for cupcakes.
Die for love.

Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.

None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.

Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.

A solid 3.5 stars.   

The first thing I liked about the book was the addition of the description prior to the start of the story.  I am someone who reads the jacket cover at several points while I'm reading a book.  With a Kindle, it's impossible to view metadata, so this was a really nice touch.  

Some of the language ventured into the purple prose and I had to re-read a few passages in order to understand what was going on:
The TV showed a van crammed full of people and personal belongings driving toward a roadblock.  The thin hum of the engine dropped, then picked up again.  Then a tinkle, breaking glass, and the van screeched to a stop.  Little chopped-off noises followed as it hastily reversed, turned, and accelerated away, one headlight punched out.
I appreciate that the author is showing rather than telling what happened, but it's not always necessary.

Madeleine is a very real teenage girl: she skips school; lies to her mother about where she is; crushes over a cute boy; and is outwardly shy, though thankfully not in a Bella Swan there-is-nothing-special-about-me way.  I really related to her and I loved her friendship with Noi, a girl who considers all strangers as friends she just hasn't met yet.  She has her own insecurities, but covers them with a great snarky streak:
[Madeleine to Noi]
"Half the world is dead, we just robbed four stores, and you're worried about liking a guy two years younger than you?

"Priorities, I have them."

Oh, yeah.  I would totally be friends with Noi.  And while temporarily staying in a random apartment -- unoccupied since the arrival of the Spires -- she chooses to sleep in the Wonder Woman room.  Dude!  I want a Wonder Woman room!

The cast of characters is rounded out nicely: differing nationalities and social classes; a mix of GLBT and straight teens; and personalities that work well together.  Personality traits aren't restricted to a single character, so there's enough snark for everyone!  When Madeleine comments that it's not a good idea to drink, Min -- a secondary character and part of the group that sticks together -- takes the opposing view:
"Alien invasions aren't exactly the time to get drunk."
"If there was ever a time to get drunk, alien invasions are it."
A statement I can guarantee I will use sometime in the future:
"I give you fair warning that I am going to fangasm over you at some point when we're not saving the planet."
Totally a group I'd want to hang out with.

The love story part of the book was a great twist on the traditional YA triangle.  I didn't see that one coming AT ALL.

I will definitely be reading more of Andrea Höst's work, which isn't something I say about a lot of Indie authors.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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