Tarnished Are the Stars, by Rosiee Thor
Publish Date: October 15, 2019 (audiobook published October 1, 2019)
Published by: Scholastic Press
Audiobook Narrated by: Rosie Jones
Length: 11 hrs 17 min (384 pages)
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/LGBTQ+
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)
A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.
Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.
Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.
When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.
I listened to this as an audiobook and so it took a little bit of getting into and understanding the world-building, but once I did I absolutely enjoyed it. I loved the characters and the plotline was intriguing, and it kept me completely enthralled throughout it.
There were some issues I had with it: namely the pacing. Things, particularly the characters’ relationships with one another, felt a little rushed at times. Somehow after only 3 days of knowing each other, Nathaniel seemed to know implicitly how Eliza and Anna would react to something. And I just really prefer a slow-burn romance, you know. I liked that Eliza and Anna clashed initially, and would have loved to seen more of that grow until the underlying attraction took over. It was just a smidge too fast for me.
While I really liked Eliza’s character and her arc, I felt that a lot of her scenes were overtaken by a plethora of different metaphors. This concluded in some muddled and confusing moments that I had to repeat a couple of times because I had to sort through the different metaphors that were trying to convey similar themes. Otherwise, I really did enjoy her storyline, probably the best out of the three.
Nathaniel was such a sweetheart and all I wanted to do was wrap him up in a blanket and protect him. And I absolutely love how Eliza thought he would be a hurdle she had to overcome and control, but as soon as they met and she heard how his father treated him, she immediately changed her thought process to “must protect this boy at all costs”. Adorable. Also their heart-to-heart about sexuality and romance had my heart singing it was absolutely beautiful.
And as for Anna, she was a little too headstrong for me. She was very rash and opinionated, but also brave and loyal. She is definitely a strong and flawed character, and went through a lot of character growth in the short time this book took place.
Overall, an enjoyable listen with some really excellent characters, an intriguing plotline, and a setting that is thoroughly interesting. The mixture of steampunk and futuristic sci-fi was really unique and created such a wonderful atmosphere. Aside from some quick pacing and muddled metaphors, it was definitely a great read.