Chasing the Stars – Malorie Blackman

Chasing the Stars is Malorie Blackman’s newest novel. It’s described as a YA-Sci-Fi retelling of Othello, mostly set on a space-ship. 🚀

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I don’t want to give too much away in my synopsis, because it’s one of those books that withholds background details and then reveals them later on, but basically, Vee and her brother Aidan are the only two remaining survivors on their spaceship, after a mysterious virus wiped out all the other crew members. Near the beginning of the book, they end up rescuing a group of people from a planet, where they’re under attack from some malicious aliens called Mazon. The rest of the book takes place on the spaceship.

The narrative alternates with first person chapters from the main male and female characters, Vee and Nathan. I’m not too familiar with Othello, but I think Vee is Othello, and Nathan is his lover Desdemona (so the genders are swapped round).

I’m not quite sure how closely the plot of Othello was followed, but there were definitely quite a few of the same plot devices, including the planting of an incriminating object on someone under false pretences, and the classic Shakespearean pre-arranged eavesdropping session. The writing was also peppered with cheeky Shakespearean quotes, although not all from Othello.

The setting on a spaceship was quite cool. I’m not really into that kind of thing usually, so I was a bit sceptical at first, but it seemed to work out. Malorie Blackman is good at writing about computers and robots, perhaps partly due to her her background in computer programming! The gadgets and cool futuristic stuff on the spaceship was fairly stereotypical though – nothing especially original.

I definitely found similarities to the Noughts and Crosses series – the way the characters were so stubborn and held quite unreasonable grudges against each other (although this might partly have been dictated by the plot of Othello). The first person narrative lead to quite a lot of ranting and complaining inside the characters’ heads, as well as harping on about how much they fancied each other. They definitely weren’t especially “likeable” characters.

The book could definitely be accused of insta-love, although since Vee’s been marooned on a spaceship for years, perhaps it’s understandable for her to fall in love with the first other person she sees. There’s definitely self awareness of the insta-love though, with both characters reflecting on it, and whether it was real (a lot) throughout the book.

All in all, an interesting and engaging read. I was certainly drawn along, following the trail of hints at future reveals of background information, despite getting a bit sick of the characters’ inner monologues.

Thank you very much to Penguin for sending me a copy of the book 🐧

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/5

XoXOXOOooo

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May Book Haul – 2016

Hello, I’m here today to tell you about the books I have obtained in May!

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It’s been a fairly hectic month because of exams, but obviously as soon as I finished, I went out on a celebratory book buying expedition. I’ve split the haul into categories based on the place I got the books from.

(Click on the images to take you to the Goodreads pages!)

  1. Library

I literally walked straight out of my last exam and straight to the city library to borrow some books. It’s actually the first time I’ve borrowed physical books from this library – in the past I’ve used their eBook services, and borrowed physical books from my College library, but there’s a lot more choice here. 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan17208924._UY200_.jpg

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while – it’s the last John Green book I hadn’t read. I’ve actually already read this one, and you can read my review here.

These Shallow Graves – Jennifer Donelly 29908288.jpg

This is a new historical thriller set in 1890s New York. I’ve seen it around a bit on bookish social media, and it caught my eye from the shelf.

 

  1. Penguin

Chasing the Stars – Malorie Blackman28693621.jpg

This is another new release, and it’s a Sci-Fi retelling of Othello, set in space.
I was actually sent this book as an ARC by Penguin. Not for professional book-bloggery reasons – I’m a member of a website called Bookmarks, and I earned a free book by filling in so many surveys! I was mildly sceptical at first, but I’m currently about 100 pages in, and really enjoying it.

  1. Waterstones

The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton32946.jpg

Described as “the original teenage rebel story”, and complete with some moody-looking boys on the front. I feel this is something of a modern classic.

 

  1. Oxfam Books

I love buying books from Oxfam – they’re so cheap, and since the money goes to charity, I seem to be able to justify buying way too many. Every time you go in there’s a different selection of books, and you never know what you’re going to find!

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe37781.jpg

This one is on so many “must read” lists. It’s about the colonisation of Nigeria, written by a Nigerian author. I think this is quite an important book. Particularly relevant at the moment, with all the “de-colonisation” movements in student politics.

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver5220.jpg

Carrying on in the colonial vein, this one’s about a family of missionaries who travel to the Belgian Congo in 1959. I’m not sure where exactly I’ve heard of this before, but it sounds familiar somehow. Very interesting blurb anyway.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More – Roald Dahl2016767.jpg

Ah, Roald Dahl, one of my favourite childhood authors. I’ve long been meaning to pick up some of his adult fiction, which I’ve heard is utterly bizarre.

Howard’s End – E.M. Forster3102.jpg

This one was recommended to me by one of my best friends, who read it last summer. It’s about life on a Hertfordshire estate at the turn of the century. I’ve read three other books by E.M. Forster, which I have enjoyed by varying amounts. So we’ll see about this one!

The Viceroy of Ouidah – Bruce Chatwin79913.jpg

This is a title I recognised from my Massive Book List. The Massive Book List is a huge list of “good books” given to us in Year 9 at school, which was basically translated in my head as Massive Reading Challenge. I’ve been working my way through them gradually since then. Maybe I’ll do a future post on the Massive Book List.

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So that’s all folks! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, and what you thought, or if there are any you plan on reading!

XXoOXOOO

Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman

As most people are probably aware, the Noughts and Crosses series is set in an alternative world in which the white race (the Noughts) have been historically oppressed by the black race (the Crosses), rather than the other way round. There are a lot of racial conflict and civil rights issues being played out, but it’s the black people who hold all the power and the white people who are screwed by the system.

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It’s taken me absolutely AGES to finish this series. Literal ages.

I read the first book, Noughts and Crosses, when I was about 12. I found the book very shocking and traumatic – to be honest, it was probably a bit too mature for me to be reading. So I never continued on with the series. One dose of this sex/violence/tear gas-infused sequence was quite enough for my sheltered little mind.

It wasn’t until last year when I spotted the series at the library, and decided to give it another shot. Ironically, I think that perhaps this time round, I’ve overshot the mark a bit, because I found some of the language quite juvenile. For example, words like “sooooo” kind of grated on my nerves a bit. (Although this may well be more of a reflection of my nerves rather than bad writing, since after all parts of it were narrated by a young-ish girl.)

The premise of this book is certainly fascinating. I know that at 12, I found it really thought provoking, especially smaller issues like “skin coloured plasters” only being pink (or in this universe, brown). I found it really embarrassing that I’d never noticed stuff like that before. Obviously in an ideal world, it would have had the same impact without the race reversal, but flipping the status quo like this really forces the reader to abandon all their stupid unconscious racial bias.

Much of this series focuses on relationships between noughts and crosses across the racial divide, angsty forbidden love à la Romeo and Juliet. I must say that a lot of the characters throughout this series really frustrated me in their seeming inability to EVER change their mind about things. This did make for really frustrating parts, where people would mull over a stupid grudge for YEARS and not have any fresh perspectives or even consider any other point of view. High stubbornness content I would say. Everyone thinking in black and white, as if the colour scheme of the book covers has leaked into their consciousnesses. (Ooh, poetic).

All in all, great premise, but irritating characters and juvenile language.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/5

XxxXOO