A Conspiracy of Stars – Olivia A. Cole – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 2 January 2018
Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
Here there be monsters. A Conspiracy Of Stars is a truly imaginative novel. Beautifully crafted, this book draws the reader into another world, or rather planet, that is entirely different from our own. Yet is seems that the troubles of humanity follow, no matter how exotic the location.
Octavia’s dream is to become a whitecoat like her mother and father, eminent scientists who study the diverse animals and plants of Faloiv. When she and her fellow classmates are offered internships well before expected, they are all excited. But things are changing within their settlement of N’Terra. There are murmurs of discontent, anger towards the indigenous people of Faloiv, the Faloii, and the head of the Council seems to be driving it all. As Octavia and her friends uncover more of the secrets of her home, she begins to experience her own strange changes – it seems she is far more tied to the planet of Faloiv and all its inhabitants than she ever could have dreamed possible.
The world created in A Conspiracy of Star is so detailed. The creatures, the plant life, the Faloii are all so different and creative. The author must surely have a sketchbook or workbook with all these details fully drafted out to bring them to life so clearly within the writing.
I loved the writing style. The book is centred around an entirely new planet, ecosystem, and social system, yet there is no information overload. Instead, the reader is placed immediately into Octavia’s life, and slowly, as more details are revealed, it becomes clearer about who she is, where she lives, and the amazing creations with which she is surrounded. This meant that at first I wasn’t entirely sure about all the details but it left me wanting to read more, quickly, to find out everything – from how this group of N’Terran’s came to be on Faloiv, to their available technology and the secrets that have been hidden from Octavia. The publisher has categories this book under monsters, but I’m not so sure this refers to the amazingly diverse animals that feature in the story.
The story and characters are all very authentic. Octavia and her classmates have all lived on Faloiv their whole life. They know nothing else. They know so much about the new creatures and plants of Faloiv, but not a lot about the Origin Planet (Earth). And words, like tortoises or cornrows or Afros, which have somehow remained in their language base have now lost their meaning. I liked how these little details were included as a reminder of the difference between the children born within N’Terra and those older inhabitants who journeyed from the Origin Planet. And it is this divide from which the trouble stirs.
The romance in A Conspiracy of Stars starts as a newly developing crush and slowly deepens into a close friendship. Of course, this is all spread through the action and twists of the plot and so the romance does not take the focus. It will be very interesting to see how the romance continues in the second book. There are also many other relationships that feature in A Conspiracy of Stars, friendship, parent-daughter, student-teacher, and rival, that all become more complex as more secrets are revealed.
This series is a planned duology. It is hugely exciting that the story will be concluded within just two books, keeping the story fast-paced and totally engaging. The exciting and climatic ending of this first book has me very eager to read the final novel. The is still so much of Faloiv to be discovered. A Conspiracy of Stars is a beautifully crafted science-fiction novel, that uniquely stretches the boundaries of what we think of about other planets, animals, and human interactions.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Science, study, animals, colonisation, settlements, creatures, friendship, family.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Violence- blood, gore, death and animal cruelty.
Published: 2 January 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 432 pages.