In Rosiee Thor’s debut novel Tarnished Are the Stars, Anna is a mechanic/medic in a small town on Earth Adjacent, the planet that has been terraformed after life on Earth became unsustainable. Anna is also the Technician, an outlaw who uses illegal tech in order to save lives. Meanwhile, Nathaniel, son of the Commissioner of Earth Adjacent, is determined to catch the Technician to prove himself to his father. And Eliza, raised on the elite Tower space station, is being sent down to the planet on a mysterious mission by the Queen. Their paths collide but quickly take them in a direction none of them expect.
This is a pretty fun sci-fi adventure! Anna is a strong opinionated character, grappling with her role in a society that has outlawed the thing she is best at. Nathaniel is sweet and yet brave, fighting an inner sense of unworthiness imparted to him by his cruel father. Eliza is cunning and ambitious, but haunted by a former tragedy caused by her own decisions. The three of them play off each other in interesting ways, and contribute to one another’s character development.
I wasn’t sure going into this what the plot would entail, but I liked the direction it went! The commentary about social class and how government policy often leaves the poor behind worked well in this futuristic, science fiction setting. The world-building is detailed and well thought-out without being overwhelming. Though the ending wasn’t quite as action-packed as I hoped, it was still satisfying.
Also, there were a couple elements of this book that I really appreciate. First is the representation of queer characters where their sexualities aren’t made a plot point. Rather they’re treated as a matter of course, and the focus of the character development hinges on other emotional aspects of them. It’s nice to see gay and asexual characters get a chance to be heroes in a sci-fi YA book. The second thing I liked is that this is a standalone. While I do like series, I often don’t have time for them, especially when they’re still in progress. Standalones—like Tarnished luckily is—are underrated, and I want more of them!
In the end, I really enjoyed Tarnished Are the Stars. It’s a creative world and story with likeable characters and some intriguing, fun relationships. All in all, a good debut, and I would be interested to read more of Rosiee Thor’s work!
Overall rating: 8.2/10