Tarnished Are The Stars by Rosiee Thor | REVIEW4 min read

Review of Tarnished Are The Stars by Rosiee Thor

Quick Info about Tarnished Are The Stars

Title Tarnished Are The Stars
Author Rosiee Thor
Publisher Scholastic
Release Date 15 October 2019
Format ARC
Representation Disabled MC, side characters (mechanical heart); F/F main relationship; Asexual minor character
Content Warnings Genre-appropriate violence; Surgery, blood; Several character deaths (including a child death), grief; Ableism; Classism;
Synopsis 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.

NOTE: I received an advance reader copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinions or the way I talk about the book.

Review of Tarnished Are The Stars

Cover of Tarnished Are The Stars by Rosiee ThorI knew I was going to enjoy Tarnished Are The Stars, but I didn’t realize I’d love it this much! Rosiee Thor does an awesome job of crafting a world where, some 800 years in the future, technology has been outlawed because of how it completely destroyed the first planet we had. However, there are still people like Anna and her entire village who rely on it to live. There’s also some compelling evidence that the government is actively poisoning this town and that’s why they need this technology to live… And that’s where this story begins.

Let’s dive into the characters first because TATS has some really memorable ones. First of all, I want to be Anna when I grow up. She’s so protective of everyone she loves and will fight anyone who gets in her way. I love how headstrong she is. Eliza is one of the smartest, most well-read people ever and I adore her. Honestly, I need a companion novel about her. Nathanial starts as such a misguided, unsure character. To see his development into a much more confident person was lovely. Watching all three of these protagonists grow over the course of story was great because Thor did a great job with all of them.

Now let’s talk about some of the more serious parts of the book. This story is really deep and kind of dark in spots. But it’s written with such nuance and self-awareness that makes Tarnished Are The Stars something special to talk about. Essentially, all of Anna’s village is disabled and requires a TICCER to help their hearts and allow them to live. This sickness is so rampant that one of Anna’s friends worries about having another child because of the world she’d be bringing them into. From there it dives into government corruption and how the privileged work to keep the oppressed down, distracted, and fighting amongst themselves. It’s a powerful story written in a phenomenal steampunk setting.

One of the conversations I appreciate the most is one that happens between Eliza and Nathaniel near the middle of the book—it doesn’t spoil any of the plot, and it happens more to build said characters, but feel free to skip the following paragraph if you haven’t read the book yet.

When Eliza and Nathaniel begin to bond, he brings up the fact that he’s never been interested in anyone romantically and she explains that people on the first earth had words for that: asexual and aromantic. It branches into a conversation of using labels to find community and feel a sense of security in oneself, and I just love that it’s put in there. It shows that no matter what the circumstances are, we’re all going to want to find our people and figure ourselves out. Bless Rosiee Thor for putting those words in a science fiction book, especially for teenagers.

This is going to be a book that I recommend to people for a long time. It a book that gets going quickly and doesn’t stop for a breath. There are so many different parts to this story and it’s just soo well-written and I really hope that you consider picking this one up! It’s beautiful inside and out. (I mean, just look at that cover!)

Whom I recommend this to

  • Fans of science fiction and steampunk stories
  • Readers who like multiple, distinctive POVs, each with a storyline that starts separate from the rest then gets tangled up with the others as it goes on
  • People looking for stories about corruption in government but, like, fictional because the real stuff is too much to think about

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