Hold Back The Stars

Katie Khan

Carys and Max have ninety minutes of air left.
None of this was supposed to happen.
But perhaps this doesn’t need to be the end…
Adrift in space with nothing to hold on to but each other, Carys and Max can’t help but look back at the well-ordered world they have left behind – at the rules they couldn’t reconcile themselves to, and a life to which they might now never return.
For in a world where love is banned, what happens when you find it?

What are your overall thoughts?

Despite the old adage about book covers and judgment, I’ve admitted more than once that that I’m a sucker for a pretty cover. I was powerless to resist when faced with Hold back the stars. It’s absolutely beautiful. With is hand drawn stars and character silhouette, it perfectly reflects the books content. Some of the stars are picked out in foil so that the stars actually twinkle- total book porn for book magpies like myself.
But even for me, a beautiful cover alone does not a purchase make, the blurb had completely ensnared at high stakes, Sci fi, love story and Hold Back The Stars quickly went from compulsive one click purchase to top of TBR.

While my love for the aesthetics of the book are clear-cut my feelings for the content are a little more complicated. I’m a total sucker for romantic love stories, caught breath, tentative, tension fill touches and impassioned declarations of love totally float my boat. Hold Back the stars is not a romantic love story and my pre conceived notions about the kind of love story I was going to read almost made me quit the story half way though.

Due to the peril the characters find themselves in it is understandable that they would want to look back at the significant events of their relationship and the events that led them to their current predicament. Like in life the significant events are often the more upsetting and unpleasant ones. While I appreciate that this is in keeping with the story and the dramatic device of the looming disaster, as a reader it made connecting with the characters and their relationship harder. If had been shown a few more tender moments of their relationship, it would have been easier to relate to the characters and the choices they made for themselves and each other, however with hindsight I can recognise the authenticity of the authors choices to the story being told and my own preconceptions about what that story would look like.

In the end it was the tension-building countdown that kept me turning the pages and my determination to finish was rewarded with a unique and surprising final third.

What was your favorite aspect of the book?
The concept is what drew me to the story and ultimately it was the concept that kept me reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world building. I liked Khan’s unique take on the utopian society and its effect on the individual. The concepts felt well conceived and grounded in logic, in so far as a post apocalyptic utopia can, not just pulled from thin air to act as a dramatic device to get the characters to a certain point.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is the sticky point for me. As well as my love for fluffy romance the main thing that attracts me to stories and keeps me reading are the characters. For the most part a story can be set anywhere, in any time, be fast or slow paced, contemporary or fantasy, and I will enjoy it if I can relate to likeable characters.

Neither of the protagonists was particularly likeable. In fact, it was my absolute dislike of Max, the male protagonist, and his actions that almost has me giving up on the book midway through.

As a result this wasn’t an easy read for me, however the rest of the book, and the subsequent actions of the characters, made up for this and having completed the book and stepped back to review the story as a whole I can see why the author made the choices she did.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes, surprisingly, despite my inability to really connect with the characters and their love story, I still really enjoyed this story. The dramatic devises held the story together and had me racing to turn the pages late in to the night. The final third of the book surprised and delighted me.

Verdict: Leave your preconceptions on earth to fully enjoy this page turning, unique, concept driven love story.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: January 2017
Format: Hardback
Pages: 304
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: Debut author
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