After finishing Ignite the Stars I cannot believe I waited so long. I adored this book to pieces. Present me is kicking past me majorly.
Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cocha is a seventeen-year-old girl.
A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.
Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I adored Ignite the Stars so much. It deserves all the stars in the galaxy that’s how much. In fact if you think our tastes intersect in any way, go find this book today. You will love it. Maybe not as much as I do (is that even possible?) but damn close. Seriously. Every thing from the Ia, her friendships, her vulnerabilities, her relationship with her brother. I can’t even get over how much I adore this book. This the new review style from now on.
Let me start with a very easy thing to review (and keep my cool over): the world building. I could almost feel the metal beneath my feet as I read this. Even though a lot of this book takes place on this space station (and some other places I will not spoil for you), I could see the hallways. I could taste the chocofluff on my tongue. And I could feel the feelings of the characters so acutely. Ia’s love of flying, the rush under her fingers, and the thrill under her skin. They were tangible, and very real to me. I could smell the smoke in the air.
But what I adored even more than that were the characters. Ia is my obvious choice for my love. She is so strong, intelligent, and arrogant. At the same time, when we are able to see into her thoughts, we sense her tenderness, her vulnerabilities, her guilt. And that makes her this rich three dimensional character. The way her shields come down as these people worm ways through cracks in her armor. We want to simultaneously protect her, support her, and, sometimes, yell at her. Just like all my favorites.
But not only that, but I actually adored almost all the characters. (There were, and are, some that I dislike with varying degrees of dislike). Brinn is a precious cinnamon roll of anger. While she feels this acute sense of ‘justified’ anger, we can feel the way her whole perspective changes. As she realizes the way that her government has been framing the truth. And Knives. You adorable little ball of strong fluff. I love you so much. The way his interactions go from enemies to allies. The complicated history he has with his father. Each of these characters have these intricate histories that feel rich underneath our fingers.
It’s clear they are genuine and individual people. That their stories began before page one. That they don’t just populate the world, but have distinct opinions and pasts. Milan doesn’t hold our hands. Instead we are dunked into this colorful world full of battles, current crises, and upcoming challenges. As we meet these characters, we realize that sometimes we need people who will stay besides us. Who will push back when we try to push them away. Who will call us out on our lies and fears. To pull us back from the brink, the monsters we create of ourselves when we don’t recognize ourselves.
And the writing is pure stunning beauty. There are not only sentences that are so tender, so full of emotion, and beauty, but there are so many fantastic parallels. What I adore about science fiction is the ability to discuss the potentials of the future, the terrifying opportunities that await us. But at the same time, we are able to use this new lens to examine problems in our own society.
I am specifically thinking about the refugee crisis in the book, the way Brinn hides and navigates her Tawny heritage (the way she feels disconnected from this culture and witnesses the extreme prejudice against her mother’s people), and the way the government controls the news and the rhetoric. The fight for freedom and independence of these smaller planets. The way we always think we are safe, that their hatred, their violence won’t come for us, until it does. And what choices we will make to not only fight for our rights, but those of those under attack.
I can’t believe I waited so long to read Ignite the Stars. So take my advice and don’t be like me. Jump on this book right now. You will adore each character for their flaws, their fears, and their strengths. And when they begin to interact with each other, you’ll be either swooning, cheering them on, or holding your breath. Ignite the Stars is full of little comments that show and tell, that hint and tease. Ultimately, I need book two right now. So my heart can be complete.