Book Review || The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Girl and the Stars
{Book of the Ice #1}
Mark Lawrence
30th April 2020

I have heard a lot about Mark Lawrence in the past, particularly about the Book of the Ancestor series, and it sounded like he wrote some excellent dark fantasy. So when the chance came along to give the first book in his new series a go, I have to admit I was intrigued.

The Girl and the Stars follows Yaz, born into a tribe who live in a very cold place. Her tribe is known for being one of the toughest, as the live out on the ice and don't really see anything other than ice or feel much other than the unrelenting wind, except when travelling to hunt, or to attend the rituals of the people of this planet that happen every four years. To survive, everyone must band together and become a part of the whole, rather than an individual seperated from it - those who are deemed unsuitable for the life are thrown down a hole by one of the priests of their people - seemingly a quick death in comparison to the slow death of the cold.

Yaz knows she's different, and she knows she deserves to be thrown. But then a lot of really weird stuff happens.

I actually really enjoyed my time with this read - it was addictive, and I really wanted to keep picking it up. Yaz is an excellent main character to follow as she is unsure of herself almost all the time, but the is damn well going to do the best she can. And the writing style was immersive, with moments of great tenderness and wisdom scattered throughout. I also fell in love with some of the side characters, whom I won't mention because of spoilers. Everyone felt distinct and real.

However, sometimes things felt a little repetitive. This could have been because I devoured this book in a few days, but I felt like Lawrence told me the same thing about the same character about four times, and it started to get a little annoying - I do understand why the repetition is here, though, as there are just so many characters and things going on sometimes that it helps to have reminders. There's also some reverse-harem energies in this book that also got a bit annoying at times, and I found myself questioning them just a little. 

Another issue I had, which I suspected I might have with Mark Lawrence's work, is that it's maybe a little too grimdark for me. I think I can get on with grimdark sometimes (I love the Nevernight books by Jay Kristoff, for example, which have been referred to as grimdark on occasion), but sometimes I do feel it veers a little to far into the 'torture porn' category, where the main characters or characters just get beaten down into a pulp at every single opportunity - this can just make me feel defeated at times and make me lose interest, so I am aware that it's more of a 'me' thing than a true issue with the book itself. For those that feel similarly, though, I will say that this book has enough humour and strong characterisation to get you through, in my opinion.

Overall, aside from the grimdark and my irritations with some small things, this was an absorbing read, and I think I will be back for the next instalment - if only to sate my curiosity after that ending!

7.5/10 girls with stars.

I received a review copy of this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own.

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