The Stars Never Rise #1
Paranormal Young Adult
Source: ALA Midwinter
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.
When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.
To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?
Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.
The Stars Never Rise paints a horrifying picture of a world we can only hope never finds its way from the pages of fiction into reality, with demons and demon possession driving humanity’s every thought and action. While the paranormal elements are terrifying, we do have the safety net of reality to fall back on, taking comfort in the fact that we can escape this world easily enough if we need a quick break. The far more disturbing element–and one we can’t escape–is the fanatacism that accompanies the teachings of this world’s Church, humanity’s willingness to blindly believe what their told resulting in innocent lives being snuffed out with the strike of a match.
Nina is a voice of reason we easily latch onto amidst the ordered chaos of a literal hell on Earth, forcing herself to play by the rules despite the fact that she doesn’t entirely buy into the Church’s propaganda. Because she’s not one hundred percent dedicated to them from the beginning, there are no blinders to rip from her eyes once her home life takes a turn for the worse, only knowledge which she readily accepts without putting up a token struggle. She doesn’t waste time denying the many revelations she’s faced with, and instead picks up her new cause with impressive gusto and does her best to fight for her sister and anyone else she can save along the way.
A romance does come into play amidst the horror of an impending demon invasion, and while we can’t help but be grateful there’s only one romantic interest instead of two, the relationship between Nina and Finn stays at surface level throughout. There are a number of sweet moments, but the emotional connection we have to the two of them as a couple isn’t as strong as the overwhelming urge to see them and their group of exorcist misfits survive against nearly impossible odds. Perhaps their relationship will grow stronger in future books and our investment in them as a couple along with it, but the story itself is strong enough–and the world nightmare-inducing enough–that it’s easy to move past that minor drawback and look forward to what is to come as the series continues.
Rating: 3.5-4/5 (I couldn't quite pin my thoughts down enough to come up with a single rating, so a range it is ;-)
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.