In The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow, an alien race known as the Ilori have come to Earth from their planet and colonized it. In two years, Earth is almost unrecognizable, and many humans are dead, and all art and music is prohibited. The rest are kept in holding facilities, though they don’t know for what purpose. Janelle “Ellie” Baker lives in one of these places, and she secretly distributes books to the other humans as an act of quiet defiance. When she meets an Ilori boy named M0Rr1s who loves music, though, she has to reevaluate her situation and perhaps turn her small rebellion into something bigger.
This was a decent sci-fi, post-apocalyptic adventure, especially for a debut novel!
I liked Ellie as a protagonist, especially her role as a secret librarian. She doesn’t have the gumption of Hermione Granger or the attitude of Katniss Everdeen, but her quieter nature is an interesting change of pace from those characters. It’s also interesting to see her character development as she grows more optimistic about her situation and that of humanity as a whole. I also liked M0Rr1s (or Morris as Ellie calls her, which is easier to type so I’ll use that). He’s very sweet and gentle, full of conflict about what his people are doing and also full of an endearing love of music.
The other characters were fine, but didn’t have much development. The story very much centers around Ellie and Morris, and the others aren’t featured as much, so I don’t have a lot to say about them. I liked Ellie’s friend Alice, though!
The writing overall is fine, though sometimes I could tell this was the author’s first published work—there is a lot of info-dumping in the first couple chapters, and several further instances of the dreaded “telling not showing.” I feel like this information could have been revealed in a more interesting way. I also wish we could have explored some aspects of the Ilori invasion in more depth, particularly in terms of how their hive mind and their injections work.
On another note, the love story came off as kind of weird to me. It’s not that I don’t like the characters, I just didn’t buy it entirely. There wasn’t enough of a foundation for them to have the depths of feeling they claimed to have. It felt rushed, and a little lacking overall.
As did the ending of the book, which really surprised me, especially since I can’t find that there’s a second book planned to give any resolution. It’s not that this ended on a cliffhanger, but it definitely ended without any closure for much at all.
In the end, although I feel like I’ve been pretty negative here, I did enjoy the Sound of Stars. It’s an entertaining dystopia/first contact story about two unlikely people teaming up to try to save the world. There are lots of literary and music references throughout, and the pacing is great. The main characters are well written, and the action scenes well done. This definitely isn’t the best book, especially in terms of the romance and the ending for me, but I think Dow has a lot of potential as an author.
Overall rating: 7.9/10