Genres: YA fantasy, Historical fiction
Publication date: 6th December 2016
What piqued my interest: Time-travel and cover porn
*I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
I normally like to start my reviews with a quote, but I honestly couldn’t find a single line in this book that I wanted to include.
The plot of The Blazing Star follows Portia White, whose biggest worries in life are her high school prom and going to a different university to her twin. That is, until she touches an Egyptian scarab during a class history trip and gets sent back in time to ancient Egypt.
What first drew me to the book was its diverse cast of characters and the time travel elements that were promised, but I ended up being disappointed by almost every aspect of this novel.
From start to finish the plot was monotonous. The storyline was too simplistic and yet the author still managed to make it hard to follow by jerking readers through sequences of events that didn’t hold any cohesion. Many of the key moments had no consistency with what had come previously and, somehow, Josey even managed to make time travelling boring.
The writing style was dull and the narrative was poorly executed; half of the reason the plot was so calamitous was the fact that the narrative often just didn’t make any sense. There were also glaringly obvious grammatical and editorial errors left right and centre, which didn’t make reading it any easier. I know Netgalley gives out ARCs and not final editions, but I can only hope what I received was a very early proof copy because the sheer number of errors was atrocious. I’m talking words missed out, the wrong punctuation in the wrong places, random extra spaces, and even a semi-colon in the middle of a word. (Normally I can forgive up to three or four errors in a final copy of a book if the book is otherwise excellent, but this was just unacceptable.)
I was hoping (wishing/praying/doing an exorcism) for some good characterisation to make up for the novel’s other flaws, but no. It never came. Portia, the main character, is one-dimensional and spends the majority of the novel being completely obtuse. It takes her an entire chapter to work out she’s no longer in a modern-day American museum, despite being outside and surrounded by different people, who are speaking another language. This is a prime example of the author making their protagonist oblivious for the sake of furthering the plot, and it just does not work. It only serves to frustrate the reader (especially when we already know what they don’t) and alienate them from the character.
Sadly, the other characters also fell flat. Portia’s twin, Alex, became childish and whiney every time her ‘famed’ intelligence wasn’t useful, and the prince had no defining personality traits at all. Oh, he smiles occasionally. That’s about it. I couldn’t invest in any of these characters at all and if Josey had killed them all off I would have probably cheered at the change of pace.
The novel’s one saving grace was it’s diversity. Almost all of the characters are POC and it was incredibly refreshing to read a book where the majority of the cast are non-white. It was just such a shame that all the other aspects of the novel were a disappointment – even the Egyptian mythology wasn’t used to its full capacity.
Overall, The Blazing Star was not worth my time. I think the author obviously had a clear idea of the novel in her mind, but it didn’t translate well onto the page and could have done with far more rigorous forms of copy editing. I ended up having to physically force myself to finish it (I came close to DNFing it at least four times) and am just frustrated that I wasted time on such a poorly-crafted novel. At least now I get to continue reading Six of Crows.