On her last day of high school, Cassandra Devlin walked out of exams and into a forest. Surrounded by the wrong sort of trees, and animals never featured in any nature documentary, Cass is only sure of one thing: alone, she will be lucky to survive.
The sprawl of abandoned blockish buildings Cass discovers offers her only more puzzles. Where are the people? What is the intoxicating mist which drifts off the buildings in the moonlight? And why does she feel like she’s being watched?
Increasingly unnerved, Cass is overjoyed at the arrival of the formidable Setari. Whisked to a world as technologically advanced as the first was primitive, where nanotech computers are grown inside people’s skulls, and few have any interest in venturing outside the enormous whitestone cities, Cass finds herself processed as a ‘stray’, a refugee displaced by the gates torn between worlds. Struggling with an unfamiliar language and culture, she must adapt to virtual classrooms, friends who can teleport, and the ingrained attitude that strays are backward and slow.
Can Cass ever find her way home? And after the people of her new world discover her unexpected value, will they be willing to let her leave?
I love it when I find a new favorite! Where to begin… (also, I tried really hard to keep the spoilers out, so sorry if some of this is a little vague)
The world-building is phenomenal. Confusing at times, but incredibly interesting.
The book begins with “survivor Cass” as she struggles to make it on a deserted planet. As far as I could tell, it was all pretty realistic and gives a nice set-up for later developments. Later, after the Setari pick her up, we get more glimpses into alien society and community. All very interesting. The info-dumps were handled well and didn’t detract from the plot at all. The book is written in journal form, which doesn’t always work, but which Höst pulls off well.
Cass herself is brilliantly portrayed. As you know, I have a strong dislike of wimpy female characters and insta-love. None of that here! Sure, Cass struggles, cries, throws tantrums at times, but who wouldn’t after being whisked away from her planet and thrown onto an alien planet and picked up by “space ninjas” who don’t speak her language. The language aspect was handled nicely, I thought. Cass’s decisions are ultimately rational, and I love that she keeps referencing all the sci-fi she’s watched and read as why she’s handling it so well. (One of my favorite references gives a nod to Stargate “Hm—must watch Tarens carefully in case their eyes flash mysteriously.”) I also love Cass’s wry sense of humor.
I have to admit that I sometimes got lost in all of the names of the Setari, but eventually straightened it all out. (Although sometimes I had to refresh my memory as to which Setari team each belonged.)
Definitely deserving of all 5 stars.