Spinning Starlight – R.C. Lewis – Disney Hyperion – Published 6 October 2015
Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.
Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.
Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?
A clever fairytale reconstruction set in a world of advanced technology, interplanetary journeys and magic.
Firstly, I feel that I should point out that this is a companion to Stitching Snow in that it is a fairytale retelling. Spinning Starlight is set in a different world and has a completely new set of characters. It can be read as a standalone.
Liddi is heir to the Jantzen Technology Innovations company. She also can’t seem to create anything new or exciting or even near worthy of the Jantzen name. But when her eight older brothers are placed in danger it is up to Liddi to save them. Those threatening her family have also ensured that she can not speak and that she has no one to turn to for help. When her brothers manage to get her to moderate safety, she realises the world she knows is far larger and more diverse than she could have imagined and that the danger that threatens her family could also irrevocably destroy not only the seven planets of her home but the eighth planet on which she now takes refuge.
I didn’t love Spinning Starlight like I did Stitching Snow. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, I certainly liked the creativity of the retelling, but I struggled to connect with the story. It felt slow. I think the main cause of this was the time it takes Liddi to work out a solution. When she first gets to Ferrai (the eighth planet) she is unable to speak and can neither read nor write. As Tiav tries to teach Liddi his people’s language, the plot really slows. Reading the book is also disturbed as Liddi uses a computer program to speak, and I had to stop and try to decipher what she was actually saying. It certainly made me appreciate being able to communicate. Not being able to speak, read or write would drive me nuts! Otherwise, this is a solid story, and the pace really picks up towards the last quarter of the book.
The romance that grows between Liddi and Tiav is sweet and soft and gentle. Tiav understands Liddi, even when she can’t tell him who she really is or what she needs to do. Liddi is a relatable protagonist. She struggles with self-doubt, and is used to being continually outshone by her genius brothers. She slowly learns to step up and take charge, trusting in herself and those around her.
The sci-fi world of planets and alien species and technology works really well with the fairytale, and is equally familiar and creative.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Family, brothers, romance, space, planets, fairytale retellings, The Wild Swans.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Some violence.
Published: 6 October 2015 by Disney Hyperion.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 336 pages.