I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review with opinions that are entirely my own. Mild spoilers for the book will follow.
Title: Sing Down The Stars
Author: L. J. Hatton
Rating: Highly Recommended
Genre/Category: Dystopian, Young Adult, Science-Fiction
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Purchase Link: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE
When they arrived, they spread across the sky like a sea of jellyfish—silent, unknown, alien. When they left, a year later, it seemed as if nothing had changed. But soon, certain girls were born with peculiar abilities—inhuman abilities. An international commission was formed to investigate…and fear began to spread. Families were swept from their homes and, one by one, any girl that was different disappeared.
Penn Roma’s four sisters were born with these dreaded powers: they control the elements of fire, water, earth, and wind.
Penn is the unimaginable fifth child, one with the power to call down the stars.
Her father has hidden his daughters’ powers for sixteen years. Then, one explosive night, Penn loses everything: her sisters are taken, her family destroyed. Now, Penn must do the unthinkable and use the power she’s spent a lifetime suppressing. To save her family and herself, she must travel to the very heart of her world’s darkness and discover the truth about her terrifying gift.
For someone that has claimed to dislike dystopian fiction, I sure read a lot of it. But let’s be real here: to exclusively label Sing Down the Stars as a dystopian novel would be a disservice to the book. It’s a work of dystopian fiction (a really good one at that). but there’s more to it on top of that.
Sing Down the Stars is a story about sisters. It’s a story about being different and dangerous. It’s a book that I expected to like and was then pleasantly surprised at how much I genuinely enjoyed it.
The plot of the novel comes after a weird alien invasion where these jellyfish-like blobs spread across the sky. The response to the alien blobs was overkill and essentially plunged much of the world into a steampunk-y present where people with powers are hunted by Wardens and forced to hide who they are.
The book’s main character is Penelope, fifth daughter to Magnus Roma.The fact that she’s the fifth daughter is important. In this world that is still dealing poorly with the aftereffects of initial contact, the birth of multiple daughters is a big deal as long as the first one has powers. After that, every daughter that follows will be ‘touched’, possessing specific elemental abilities. Up until the fifth daughter, the daughter that shouldn’t exist, it’s always part of a pattern that is familiar.
As the fifth daughter and as a Celestine, Penelope has different abilities from her sister. She can call down meteors from the sky, but at the same time, she can also pull on her sister’s elemental powers and use them, using them in a way that her sisters didn’t (or couldn’t). Of course, we don’t find that out for a good chunk of the book.
After her sisters are kidnapped and her father’s circus is derailed several Wardens and their ‘Hounds’ (young women who are forced to work for the Wardens and use their powers against others), Penelope sets off on a journey to save her sisters. She’s also sowly unraveling the mystery of herself, her identity and history, as well as that of the ‘touched’ girls and older people with powers that she comes into contact with throughout the book.
These ‘touched’ people are increasing every day and the wardens – essentially a police force made up of sadists – are hunting them down and hurting them, stealing them away to an end that is not immediately available. Hatton is a master at creating a world where nothing is as it seems and few people can be trusted. We don’t know what the Wardens and their people have planned, not until Penelope does and even then when we find out it’s a massive shock.
I really don’t want to go into more detail because my minor spoilers might well become major ones if I keep going. Just trust me, this is the sort of book that you can’t put down because you need to know what happens next and you need to know what happens to the characters.
Sing Down the Stars is really one of the best YA books I’ve read (and I’ve read some fantastic ones in 2015 alone).
This book made me cry. It made me want to punch people. It made me want to dive headfirst into this world and fight alongside Penelope. Sure, it lags just a little bit at some points but those are few and far between and everything else is intense action and/or emotion.
Sing Down the Stars isn’t predictable. It exceeded my expectations within the first few chapters, as the world spiraled into something bigger than anything I could’ve expected. Nothing goes the way that you expect when you’re reading and that’s a good thing. The characters are interesting, new. The plot, dark with moments of humor and lightness that’ll make you tear up.
And the ending –
It’s been a few hours since I finished reading the book but okay talk about a bittersweet ending. I’m definitely looking forward to more from L.J. Hatton and I’m so excited to see what comes next.