Published by Hachette
Review by Anna King
Today’s young adult fiction relies heavily on the creation and explanation of worlds completely alien to our own. While Kate Ling’s first novel, The Loneliness of Distant Beings, was no exception – introducing readers to the nightmarishly controlled ship Ventura – her follow-up, The Glow of Fallen Stars, describes phenomena familiar to readers but entirely foreign to her characters.
In this sequel, protagonist Seren finds herself on a strange planet, isolated from her past life on Ventura forever. Her exploration of this new world is a blissful reading experience: her wonder at occurrences such as sunset, the waves and the rain causes one to remember the beauty and brutality of our natural world which we all take for granted. This is a refreshing change from most dystopian fiction, in which the intent is to have readers recoiling from a pessimistically sinister future world. Indeed, without doubt, what really makes the novel is the appreciative simplicity of Ling’s language as she describes the natural surroundings.
Protagonist Seren was tolerable, but difficult to sympathise with, since she seemed continuously sullen or enraged at her love interest, Dom. Having said this, the obstacles she faces throughout the narrative are somewhat intense, which does excuse her to an extent. However, given that the story is told from Seren’s perspective, readers must wade through her numerous emotions before the tale can progress further, which slows the pace a little. More engaging were side characters Mariana and Ezra, and the complicated relationship they share throughout the book; Kate Ling skilfully dissects the intricate differences between love, lust and friendship in a way which many a teenage reader can relate to.
The novel is certainly plot-driven, with any number of well-constructed ideas looping over one another and yet still clearly set apart through Seren’s neat account. Prominent among these is the recurring theme of parallel universes which is subtly woven among the various relationships throughout – a thread which embellishes the book and promises for an exciting third instalment of the series.
To conclude, then, The Glow of Fallen Stars is a glorious journey which will have readers hurtling through grief, faith and awe. Quintessential teenage fiction, the book is ideal for fans of Veronica Roth or Cassandra Clare, a glimmering triumph which defies all expectations.