Book Review

Review: The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

If Mark Lawrence writes, then I will read. He has a fantastic writing style, creates interesting and flawed characters and has an expansive imagination that holds together the threads of complex world-building. But … and I hate that I’m writing this, something in this book felt hollow, like going through the motions of writing. The complexity was there (and perhaps too much of it) but I didn’t quite get the characters I was hoping for. In fact, they began to feel like any other writer’s sci fi fantasy creations and a lot more YA than I was expecting …

Girl Stars

Title: The Girl and the Stars
Mark Lawrence
Pages: 480
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Publication Date: 30th April 2020 (ebook 21st April)

In the endless ice, there is the pit of The Missing, where broken children are thrown. These children cannot survive on the ice – they live to fast, or take up too many resources, or slow the ice tribes down. For the survival of the tribes, where individuality cannot live, these children must die.

Yaz has known this for years, she has felt the the change beneath her skin. She knows that when it comes to her turn, she will be thrown down the pit by the Regulator, and her life among the ice tribes will end.

But she find more in the hole in the ice than she ever anticipated. A whole community of The Broken, struggling to survive under the ice, each with their own unique set of gifts and abilities that would see them shunned in the world above. Is Yaz their instrument of change, or of destruction?

The good:

Deep, complex world building. You don’t need to have read the previous Book of the Ancestor trilogy, but it definitely helps. It gives a little more context to what’s going on but you can manage without it. There’s an awful lot going on below the ice and, in true Mark Lawrence form, you gather as much information as you can, knowing and trusting that all of these threads will tie together eventually. You’re there for the journey and it will be EPIC.

Lots of interesting characters, from different ice tribes, with different abilities. There’s a wide and varied cast.

Excellent twists – didn’t see them coming, particularly at the end. I love it when writers can manage that – it makes me point, shout and beg for the next book.

The bad:

Disclaimer: this is my own opinion – I’m sure people will have strong positive opinions, as they should – Mark Lawrence is a great writer! – but here are my issues …

Yaz has too much spinach. She can do EVERYTHING. She is also an agent of change to an unbelievable extent. No one thought about going into the pit before Yaz. No one has gone against the ice tribes’ or the priests’ ruling before. If she wants something, everyone goes along with it. She also has too much power. The whole point of different bloodlines with different powers, and The Path (or the river that flows through things) is that you can’t repeatedly access it. But apparently she can. OFTEN.  Within days. Despite barely anyone EATING. And the power that she produces is TOO MUCH.

TOO MUCH HAPPENS. It’s something that frustrates me in novels by less-established authors, so I really can’t forgive it happening here either. But too much happens in the space of just a few days for there to be any realistic character development or relationships. To rush the plot and action along (although something that I love about Mark Lawrence’s writing – there’s something to always pull you into the next chapter), characters were taking people to places that they wouldn’t normally go for the sake of author-led urgency. And then when the MC reflects that this has taken place in just a few days, that’s jarring too …

It also gets a bit YA love triangle, or is it a square?? There’s too much going on for that kind of distraction and I just can’t be dealing with it. There are too many boys of an age with Yaz that instantly have some kind of connection with her – surely there must be other people of the same age? Where’s the conflict?

There’s also a part near the end involving a cage, some supplies and some climbing that I had to close my eyes and power through as there was a lot of disbelief to suspend.

I think, overall, the world swamped the characters – there was so much backstory and detail to share that the characters became tropes rather than individuals.

I’m really sorry, but it’s a 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. And that’s only because I trust Mark Lawrence to deliver next time. (Please don’t break my trust).

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


One thought on “Review: The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

  1. I haven’t read a book by Lawrence yet, despite having two on my shelf at home, but I’ve read some good things about his writing. It’s a shame this one wasn’t as good as expected. I tend to not enjoy story’s with breakneck pace and action. I’m more for character development and interaction. Fab review Hannah!

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