[Ren] Starglass by Phoebe North

Starglass by Phoebe NorthAvengers vs X-Men badgeTitle: Starglass
Author: Phoebe North
Published: July 23rd, 2013
Rating: 2 out of 5 teacups
Find it at: amazonbarnesandnoblebookdepositorygoodreads

Terra has lived all of her life on the spaceship Asherah. Her people left Earth centuries ago and are headed towards a faraway planet in the hope of finding refuge there. The Council rules over everyone’s lives: people marry at eighteen, have exactly two kids, and work at their Council-assigned jobs for the good of the ship. Terra thought that was going to be her life too — but then, only a few weeks before landing, she witnesses a murder and discovers a secret plot to overthrow the Council and the Captain.

…Too bad that Terra is one of the most boring characters ever and she doesn’t do anything about it. I had two huge issues with this book, and the first one is the protagonist. Out of all the teenagers who get involved with a secret society, Terra is probably the most realistic I’ve ever read about, in which she shows zero initiative and does whatever other people tell her to do. She never questions anything she’s told, unless someone tells her that there’s something fishy going on. It’s so frustrating, because I can see that she wasn’t written to be such a passive character, but that’s how she comes about.

Terra did show some signs of improvement in the end, and the last third of the book was definitely more enjoyable, but I don’t think I would have bothered finishing it if I hadn’t been reading it for a challenge. It’s one of my big pet peeves: the author had a plot in mind and forced the characters to go through all the required plot points, no matter how inconsistent with their characterization their actions were.

Second huge issue: the worldbuilding. Or spaceshipbuilding, since all of the book is set on the Asherah. Simply put, it makes absolutely zero sense. There’s a spaceship that’s been built in a hurry (I assume) to escape the dying Earth, and it’s been travelling for five hundred years, and it’s literally a miniature city with fields and a forest and people live in houses for heavens’ sake, despite the fact that the ship carries only a thousand people. That makes absolutely no sense.

Have you ever seen a spaceship, real or fictional? Living spaces are cramped because they’re at a premium, you just can’t have a huge pasture with grazing sheep on a spaceship travelling to another galaxy. It’s like going on holiday with a camper, except your camper is a three-floor mansion with two bathrooms and five guest bedrooms. Maybe I could have accepted the huge-ass spaceship if I believed that we were far in the future and technology was very advanced… but given that people are back to writing with pen and paper because computers are too rare, I somehow doubt that’s the case.

The people on the Asherah, by the way, are as a whole extremely gullible. Like I said, there’s about a thousand people on board. Considering the limited gene pool, it would only take a couple centuries before people start marrying their cousins. And yet everyone follows the custom of “checking the bloodlines” before marrying, to ensure they’re not marrying a relative. I thought this was yet another plot hole, until it was revealed that the Council tampers those bloodlines results to forbid all marriages they don’t approve of. So it’s not a plot hole, it just means that nobody on this ship has a working brain.

I was looking forward to reading something set in a spaceship, because Firefly is one of my favourite tv series ever, but the author has no sense of proportion at all. The spaceship is too big, there aren’t enough people on board, and the pacing is just wrong. To top it all, it ends with a prophetic dream of Terra’s new love interest (I kid you not) and a rather boring cliffhanger. Pass on the next instalment — and someone rec me a better book set in space!


2 thoughts on “[Ren] Starglass by Phoebe North

  1. This was really disappointing for me as well, unfortunately. I found that the plot just floundered aimlessly, since, as you said, Terra doesn’t exactly do much of anything in terms of proactivity. She’s more or less along for the ride. She seemed like a very purposeless protagonist, which COULD have worked if the author had done that intentionally, but…I don’t think she did. The world really needs more YA set on spaceships, but not if they’re all like this.

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