Sha and I are back with a long overdue review! We read this book back in *checks calendar* March. Then we created a Google doc, but we didn’t finish writing in it until this past month. Let’s just say that life got in the way…but we are here now!
Even the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars #1)
Author: Heather Fawcett
Release Date: September 5 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Goodreads Rating: 3.93 (of 2,310 ratings)
Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.
But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means cimbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.
The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.
“A few yards from where I lay, the snow began to move. Something was rising out of it, something with an enormous belly, round head, and an absence of limbs. A snowman.”
SHA: This book had a plot, but it was so scattered with the most obvious foreshadowing scenes thrown in that I kept stopping to ask myself what the end goal could possibly be. I wanted to shout “have you ever heard of Chekhov’s gun?”. Characters came on the scene, introduced emotional backstory, and were never heard from again. Like, whyyy. (*There is indeed a sequel but this does not relate to that.)
RENDZ: So she’s gotta climb a mountain to find a..a..uhhhhh. To find something. And things go downhill a couple of times (literally). But. Yeah. Mountain climbing. That’s the gist of it. And snowmen soldiers. But Sha is super right we get decorative characters that don’t serve much of a purpose but they COULD HAVE, if they were given the proper attention.
“ […] everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known […] ”
SHA: *heavy sigh* Somehow, I needed to believe River was this great explorer (chosen by the emperor himself, mind you!) while River makes nonstop novice mistakes on the journey and has the behaviour of a fourteen-year-old. I have never been climbing but I have seen mountain trek documentaries and know more than him. (Yes. He’s a character. But if you’re writing a character as an expert, they need to show knowledge in such-and-such area.)
RENDZ: Do I have a favourite? Mhmmhmhmhmh not really. River was not it for me. Kazmin was there and I was trying so hard to root for her but at the same time I was like GIRL. STAHP. Then there was the best friend and his name escapes me and he was this great mage but his arc isn’t explored that much either. And this old guy. None of them stuck out for me. And I am a character person…so you can already see how this is not going well.
SHA: Basically, I didn’t like any character because they weren’t intelligent. They made dumb mistakes (not “I didn’t think this through” but “I have no knowledge in an area I boast about having knowledge in”), they judged others, and they had no real characterization. I only somewhat liked Tem, Kamzin’s best friend, because Tem saved their lives maybe ten times (didn’t ask for thanks) and stayed humble. THANKS TEM.
RENDZ: Ah yes Tem. That’s his name. Tem. AND DO THE OTHER CHARACTERS APPRECIATE TEM. I think the f*** not. And then there was the sister…who…Sha what happened with her?
SHA: Oh wow, just realized I have NO CLUE. To paraphrase our heroine’s favourite motto: “We can’t do anything about it now, let’s just move on.”
“Trust me?” [River] shook his head, bemused. “You’re worrying about the wrong thing. Trusting me is not something I recommend to anyone.”
SHA: I kept reading. I wanted to know if all the foreshadowing I guessed at was true. The culture.
RENDZ: Same. I kept wanting to read. Which is a good sign. But this could have been something better if the characters had been different. And if River wasn’t in it entirely.
SHA: Yes. Removing River would have been nice.
WE MUST APPRECIATE THE YAK AND LIGHTBULB DRAGONS
RENDZ: The characters that held this novel up to be honest.
SHA: The yak is basically like Scrat in Ice Age, in the sense that no matter what deadly, dangerous thing happens, the yak is still there. Unscatched. Just being a yak. Same for the lightbulb dragons. Quietly being amazing without any appreciation. (Rendz and I appreciate though. We see you.)
2.5 / 5 Stars
Let us know what you think! Did this book work out better for you? Have you read the sequel? Have any recs for our buddy reads?