BOOK REVIEW: ‘Chasing the Stars’ by Malorie Blackman

Chasing the Stars cover

Chasing the Stars cover

*This review will contain spoilers!*

‘I kept telling myself I had to be cracked to put myself in the hands of someone I’d known for such a short space of time, but it felt so right, so… natural.’

Vee:

‘”My turn!”

Dad jumped to his feet, straightening out his right arm in front of him. He moved his hand from right to left, nodding his head as he did so. Pumping his arm out to the side, then up, then out, then up, he then switched to his other arm to move it slowly but steadily before him, his head still nodding.

Grease!” I shouted.’

Nathan:

Son-of-a-bitch! Agony detonated inside me, raw and devouring. I’d never felt anything like it. I wasn’t so much crying out as screaming out in pain.’ 

Because this book has two narrators, it’s only right to show you both of their first phrases. Vee is watching a video of her and her long-dead father playing charades, while Nathan is having a nightmare, reliving the time he had to cut off his own leg while trapped in a mine.

The parallel is lovely: both of the scenes seeming to be immediate but actually having happened long ago.

Vee and her brother Aidan have been alone on their ship since the entire crew – including their parents – died three years ago.

Nathan is a fugitive, on the run with a huge group who’ve escaped from the slave planet Callisto. After settling in Mazon space, their lives are at risk once again. The aliens are huge xenophobes who won’t allow humans to inhabit one of their unused planets.

When the Mazon attack, Nathan’s group send out a distress signal, which Vee sees. Risking her life, she manages to save the lives of twenty-two of their people, but she doesn’t have time to save any more. The rest of the eighty-five are destroyed when the Mazon set off a proton bomb, distinguishing all life forms on the planet’s surface.

Not all of the people Vee rescued are grateful. Darren’s angry that she left behind his wife and child, while Nathan’s mother demands that she allows her to be captain of the ship.

Nathan’s certainly grateful though. He’s drawn to Vee, and she’s drawn to him. She’s not sure if she’s falling for him because they’re soulmates or because she’s been alone for so long. Callisto left him afraid to love, so he doesn’t want to waste any time. He wants them to spend the rest of their lives together, even though they’ve known each other for less than a day.

Everything is going smoothly until Nathan’s people start dying in accidents around the ship. The finger of blame is automatically pointed at Vee, but Nathan believes her innocence. If Vee’s innocent, that means the culprit can only be Aidan, or one of the other Callisto fugitives…

The pacing of this book is ridiculously slow. It’s almost 500 pages long, but it doesn’t need to be. The majority is dedicated to establishing Vee and Nathan’s relationship, but it feels like you’re reading the same section over and over again because they’re at it like rabbits!

I’m normally a fan of instalove, but Vee and Nathan were a cringefest. It was too heavy handed. The instalove could have been subtle and still worked as well, but it was cliche after cliche.

“We were obviously destined to meet and be together like this, as dictated by the universe.”

There’s a reason for it, and when you reach the end of the book the payoff almost makes it worthwhile… Almost.

The whole point is that Vee and Nathan fall madly in love with each other very quickly, but it’s over just fast. This conversation between Aidan and Nathan sums it up nicely:

“Do you love Vee?”

“Of course I do.”

“Is it possible to fall in love so quickly?”

“Well, we’re proof it is.”

“Will you fall out of love as quickly?”

They don’t know each other well enough, so it’s easy for people (*cough* Aidan *cough*) to come between them because they lack track. It’s a nice lesson to see in YA: normally protagonists get their happy ever afters and don’t need to go through breakups or divorce!

But the instalove wasn’t the only problem. It was all so very predictable. The big reveal towards the end of the book is that Aidan is part of the ship and Vee’s brother died along with the rest of the crew. It might have been an impressive twist, if it wasn’t given away when Vee laments that she’d ‘been alone’ within the first 100 pages…

This was rather tame for an ‘Othello’ retelling. It has the jealousy and the secret marriage, but neither of our protagonists die (which I was actually rather disappointed by!).

The ending is left wide open. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Malorie Blackman decided to write a sequel! Towards the end of the book I found myself rooting for Vee and Nathan. They were extremely happy together before people decided to interfere. It would have been nice if they’d communicated a little more, though: reading both halves of the story gives you the full picture, but if we followed just one of them we’d be as distraught as they are.

I was considering giving up half way through, but as the novel unravels it becomes far more palatable. I’d suggest you persevere with this one, and set aside a big chunk of time because it is huge!

Have you read any of Malorie Blackman’s novels? If so, which is your favourite?