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First I am not familiar with The Count of Monte Cristo. Its a retelling of this story.
I have a bit of a hard time to get into it for the first couple of chapters but I did enjoyed reading it.
Scavenge the stars is the story of a young woman, Amaya, who wants revenge againts the man who ruined her family and stole years of her life. She will also uncover truth of her past and about her father.
Scavenge the Stars is the first book in a Duology which is a loose retelling of the classic “The Count of Monte Cristo” but with a gender swap meaning our main character is female.
I haven’t read the Count of Monte Cristo before, so I didn’t know what to expect with this read. I did do some research on the original and it’s around 1,300 pages and if this is a retelling then Tara Sim has split it into the two books which I think makes it more appealing to readers who may not love reading a chunky book and makes the reading less intimidating. That’s not to say that Tara will match in total pages as her inspiration.
I did enjoy reading this novel, it’s fast paced and quickly pulls you into the plot. The narrative alternates between Amaya (a girl sold to a Debtor ships) and Cayo (the heir of a wealthy Businessman). It took reading a good portion of the book before these two finally crossed paths and connected. I didn’t mind this as the first part of the book does a really good job of introducing and making you care about both characters separately. It’s when they meet that I started to struggle to see how they were going to connect, what they meant to the plot and each other, it wasn’t until the end it started to become clearer, but I still have a bit of confusion on them that I hope is cleared up in the second book.
For world building was 50/50 for me, set in the middle of political tension. The Island of Moray sits between two powerful empires (the Rain and Sun Empires) who are constantly vying for more power. Moray the neutral land in the middle. I felt that this tension was used well to push the plot along but there was very little given away about the cultures of these empires, the deeper implications of their feud and the actual implications on Moray. The explanation of the different sectors of Moray helped to start to build a picture of Moray but there was something missing for me to piece these together and create a whole image. I finished the book knowing there was a bunch of sectors and a dock but not how they connect to create a visual of where the events were happening. It was like having snapshots but not the whole picture.
My interest was kept throughout the book by the countless twists, no one is as they seem, and everyone hides a secret that you just don’t know when will be revealed. This built tension as the novel progressed for me because I needed to know what all these characters were hiding because it wasn’t just Amaya and Cayo with secrets but many of the side characters. You could feel these side characters and their secrets were key to the underlying plot, if you like to speculate how things connect in a book then this will be a read you’ll enjoy.
It wasn’t until the climax of the book that you finally grasp how all the characters (Mercado, Boon, the Slum King, Amaya’s Father) are connected. Until that point, as I’ve mentioned, Tara has left us a lot of room to use our own imaginations to try and connect the dots. Despite the connections finally being made by the side characters in the last stage of the book, there are still so many unanswered questions left. More time for speculation. For me, over three quarters of the book was spent building up the characters and I wish there a little more action relating to main plot and a bit more given away about the revelations that came in the last 30-50 pages.
I loved the diversity in Scavenge the Stars in terms of characters. The story had range of characters as people of colour and different sexualities and all receive equal portrayal and equality. Amaya is described as dark skinned and Cayo is bi-sexual. One of the Bugs on the debtor ship is also depicted as Asexual with no feelings toward either sex. A novel with a cast with wide diversity is always welcomed and is needed to develop the book world to be more inclusive of everyone. The two protagonists are both wonderfully flawed and once their paths cross you witness such growth in them both. Like they are two sides of a coin and by meeting they started to heal and develop each other. The side characters are also super interesting and add to the plot line in different ways.
Tara Sims writing style was also one of the highlights of the book for me. It was just so easy to read and guides you through the story seamlessly. Like you keep reading just for her way with words.
I gave this book 3 stars, not because I didn’t enjoy reading it. I mean I’ve pre-ordered the second book which comes out next year because I really need to know what happens next. For me as a reader, I needed more hints on the main plot line to build those connections earlier. It felt like over three quarters of the book was a build up to the last 50 pages where all the action happened and threads started to connect, which then sets up the second book really well. There was also more I’d have loved to know about the Rain and Sun Empires as they seem to have a role in the next book and I feel I finished this book with very little knowledge on them or the actual Moray culture and set up. I just needed a little more during the book to build it up, like when you see dark grey clouds on the horizons and know a storm is coming I kinda felt this book missed that for me. I don’t see it being a problem for everyone as it is still extremely well written, I’d go as far as saying one the better written books I’ve read this year.
I’d recommend this book and I’m super looking forward to the second one which is set up so beautifully.