This book was provided to me in exchange of an honest review
In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.
A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.
When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.
But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows
In Mary Fan’s Starswept we follow the story of 15-year-old Iris Lei, a young viola player in a prestigious arts school, who is trying to make it in order to finally meet her mom. However, this is no ordinary art school. In Papilio, artist compete to become the best in their art in order to get sponsored by an Adryil, an alien race from Adryil. Late one night, while wandering the hallways of Papilio, she meets an Adryil boy named Dámiul and soon learns that not everything is what it seems.
It only took two pages for me to be completely immersed in the world of Starswept, mostly because I was excited that Iris was a viola player. As a former viola player, it caught me off guard that an instrument that is usually cast aside or ignored, is in the key entrustment of the protagonists. It brought me warmth and glee. Even though that tiny detail was what made me want to read more, Fan’s world building and fast paced story telling resulted in me reading all 400 pages in one day. I could not put it down.
As a description heavy lover, I was throughly pleased. Fan immediately immersed me in her world with all the small details of the new alien species, language, history and what it means to be an artist (especially a musician).
She is a solid writer.
“Imagine all the stars in the galaxy in one pair of eyes, all the sureness of home in one pair of arms, all the heroics of a thousand epic tales in one noble heart.
This is my love.”
However, Starswept does follow the traditional tropes of YA: girl meets mysterious guy – her life changes – another boy also secretly loves her – and she gets with mysterious guy who hides secrets. Despite this, Fan was able to keep me so immersed, invested, and intrigued with what was going to happen next that I was not bothered with these tropes (it was once I started this review, that I realized how tropey it was).
While the relationship between Iris and Dámiul is considered the main focus of the story, it sometimes takes a back seat as the story dives into a darker and more serious tone as Iris learns more about what the Adryil are really doing with the artists of Earth. Their relationship was kinda insta-love which usually bothers me to the end of the earth but Fan wrote their developing relationship so beautifully, that I forgave it…for now. More than the love, its a story about how we perceive ourselves and our worth, while fighting for our beliefs.
I do not want to go too much into this book and any spoilers because I really think people should read it and experience it. It is diverse, has decent character development, beautiful prose, and a handsome male protagonist who is not cocky or broody (he is a sweetheart who wants to make the world a better place).
Space, aliens, music, interesting twists, love and fantastic story telling – what else can you ask for?
My Rating: 4/5