Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Starglass by Phoebe North

From Goodreads: Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn't interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he's yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she's got. But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain's guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship's idyllic surface. As she's drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime - one that will determine the fate of her people.

My Rating: 1 heart 

Thoughts on the Novel: Though I’m not a big fan of sci-fi novels, I was pretty interested in reading Phoebe North’s debut, Starglass, because of North’s presence on Goodreads and in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, I struggled to finish Starglass due to several reasons.

First, I found it incredibly hard to believe in the worldbuilding. Having discussed the challenges of traveling to another planet in an astronomy course I took, I just didn’t find the existence of the Asherah very realistic. I might have been able to put aside my skepticism if the Asherah were a spaceship consisting of a few people traveling to a planet nearby, but North made it almost like a miniature city. There were a few hundred people, pets, crops being grown on fields, babies being born in a hatchery … all on a spaceship engaging in interstellar travel!

Another thing I was constantly focused on was the strong incorporation of Judaism in Starglass. It was very unexpected, and left me wondering why there weren’t any people of other religions present on the Asherah. Midway through the book, I finally learned that the Asherah is owned by the Post-terrestrial Jewish Preservation Society. Had this been explained earlier, I think it wouldn’t have been nagging me so much, allowing me to concentrate more fully on the plot.

Speaking of the plot, Starglass’ is really slow and meandering. For the first third of the book or so, there isn’t much going on other than Terra going to work, wanting to be kissed, and planning her marriage. Later on, she joins a rebel group and is chosen to assassinate somebody but is too busy making out with them.

As a character, I did not like Terra! Aside from the fact that she’s a bad friend, I thought that Terra seemed very desperate for romantic love since she’s constantly thinking about kissing guys. I hate when girls appear needy in that sense. I also didn’t find her to be a strong character – she does quite a bit of crying – which was too bad because she sometimes found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and then would get involved in things I thought she probably had no business getting involved in.

Finally, I didn’t know what to make of the absurd ending. Spoiler alert: While the Asherah has been in space, Terra – for reasons unknown – has not only been dreaming about Zehava (the planet the Asherati plan on colonizing) being inhabited but also of a particular Zehavan guy. (The Asherati don't know that Zehava is inhabited until the Asherah gets near and a team is sent to scope out the planet.) After witnessing something dangerous, Terra realizes she’ll no longer be safe on the Asherah and so decides to seek safety with the Zehevan guy she has been dreaming about, a guy who happens to be a total stranger!

Starglass was released in July 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Comments About the Cover: I really like the pretty cover, and think it relates well to the story because it has a girl looking through a window at a planet. She is surrounded by leaves, which symbolize Terra’s occupation as a botanist.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Simon & Schuster) for free via Edelweiss.  


  1. Oh noes!! This was supposed to my kind of book. But I don't do boy-crazy protags either. I read your spoiler because there's no way I'm reading this now if you thought so poorly of it, and damn, that sounds stupid. Uggh, no thanks. But I'm sad too, because I honestly thought I would enjoy this one a lot. And I'm always disappointed when I end up with a much more romance-oriented plot than what I wanted. Blah, well thanks for taking one for the team, Zahida. I know to stay away from this one now. Really well reviewed.

  2. Ooooh, a rating of just one heart? *winces* Sorry to hear this one was such a struggle to get through! Terra's personality/mindset sounds like it would drive me crazy too, and since I'm not a big sci-fi fan to begin with, it sounds like I should probably not bother with this book. Great to get a better idea of what to expect with Starglass - thanks! :)

  3. Ouch. One heart? Eh, I hate when world-building goes awry, which seems to be the case in this one. I was pretty excited for this one too - for the same reasons as you. Oh well.

  4. Oh, no! I've seen some mixed reviews for this one, which sucks because it looks really good. But if Terra just focuses on marriage and kissing boys, I think I'm glad to be skipping on this book. I'm not one of those people that needs great worldbuilding, but if everything is just completely unrealistic, that's just a no! Thanks for the honest review, Zahida! <3 I think I'll be passing on this one.

  5. Hmmm. I'm thinking I'll take a pass on this one Z! I have trouble with girls like Terra who seem a little too boy-crazy and needy in the romance department. I have no problem with young women who love and rely on a boy for support, affection, etc, that's what a relationship is, but I need them to be strong individually too. Hope whatever you pick up next is awesome!

  6. I thought this is a good book, I'm glad I read your review before picking this up! Thanks for your honest review.

    Ann@Blogging E-books

  7. Oh, that is too bad! My copy just arrived and I was so looking forward to it. I actually know about the Judaism thing since I followed all of Phoebe's posts and whatnot. I have high expectations because I enjoy her writing, but we'll see. Can't wait to compare notes.

  8. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this, Z. I only skimmed your review since I haven't finished this yet, but I don't think I'll love it either, though I like it so far. I actually think the Judaism thing is interesting, but you're right, if that's the only religion mentioned, there should be some explanation for that. ONE heart, though? That scares me. D:

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


I love comments and will reply back via either email or stopping by your blog. Please note that this is an award-free zone.