The Stars Never Rise / Rachel Vincent

stars-never-riseBibliographic Information:

  • Classification: Fiction (Dewey: -Fic-)
  • Publisher, Date: Delacorte Press, 2015.
  • Edition,
  • Description: Hardcover (Library Binding), 361 pages; 22 cm.
  • Interest Level: YA; Lexile Measure: 900
  • Summary:
  • ISBN: 978-0-375-99153-0
  • Subjects:
    • Religion – Fiction
    • Possession – Fiction
    • Survival – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: Your little sister is pregnant, your mother – who was apparently a demon – lies dead at your feet by your hand, and the cops are at the door.  What’s a girl to do?

Plot Summary: In a world ruled by a catholic-like church with very rigid rules and regulations, Nina Kane is struggling to take care of her family by both adhering to the rules in public and skirting when necessary.  In order to survive she must often sneak out at night to augment her family paltry income by doing laundry for other people.  During one of these midnight runs she is attacked by a Degenerate, one of the demon possessed monsters whose attacks have decimated mankind and left a cruel, strict church in charge.  She is saved by a strange boy with brilliant green eyes who is much more than he seems.  Although she was saved from the monster, her life is about to change permanently and terrifyingly.  She simultaneously finds out her little sister is pregnant, that her mother is one of the monsters, and that she, herself, is a natural exorcist, one of the few who can banish the demons back to hell or wherever it is they come from.  Now she must learn what she is and how to use her new abilities to save her sister, herself and a band of new friends all while trying to save the world.

Critical Evaluation: The ideas behind this book are both interesting and sadly, relevant in today’s world.  The author does a good job of creating a main character who faces the struggles in her life with courage and humor.  The way she deals with her financial issues, with other people, and with her family, feels real and believable.  She is neither weak nor overly courageous.  She isn’t a hero; she is a survivor.  But beyond her, the other characters are shadows whose actions are not clearly understood; they are very one dimensional.  Her main love interest is a body-hopping creature whose existence she completely accepts after just a moment of concern of his incorporeal nature.  That is not a realistic reaction and it is symptomatic of one of the problems with the writing; the character behaves in ways she shouldn’t.  She is a pragmatic person, cautious and determined to take care of her family; it is the core of her personality.  In order to move the story along the writer seems to ignore the nature of the person she has created and that is a problem.  This could have been a really good book that examined the issues surrounding the role of religion in governments and how ordinary people deal with the problems such a society presents but it descends into insignificance by trying to do too much to fast.  Even if you accept the supernatural aspects of the society and the characters as real, the story doesn’t ring true.

Author’s Brief Bio:  “Rachel Vincent is a former English teacher and an eager champion of the Oxford comma. She shares her home in Oklahoma with two cats, two teenagers, and her husband, who’s been her # 1 fan from the start. Rachel is older than she looks and younger than she feels, and she remains convinced that writing about the things that scare her is the cheapest form of therapy—but social media is a close second.”  Retrieved from http://www.rachelvincent.com/bio.php.

Genre Designation: Fantasy & Magic and Horror (Juvenile Fiction)

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Religion and Government
  • Religious mythology

Book Talk Ideas:

  • What kind of government do you live in?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:

Reviews:

  • Booklist (May 15, 2015 (Online))

Retrieved from http://www.titlewave.com/search.

  • Publisher’s Weekly (June,2015 (online))

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-385-74417-1

Why this book was selected?

I selected this book because I was interested in the issues surrounding a society where the government and the church are one and the same.  Any current society where religion takes the place of a non-secular government has almost invariably experienced the persecution in one form or another of any member of the society who acts outside of the established norms, often with deadly consequences.  This is a reality that is reflected in this book and is a lesson that needs to re-learned over and over by humankind.

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