The Sound of Stars
Published February 25, 2020
About The Sound of Stars
Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?
Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.
Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.
Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
Somewhere between requesting an advance copy of this book and actually reading it, I forgot what this story was about. (This is the only thing I don’t like much about e-books– it’s harder to flip to the back cover copy and read the summary again if you want to refresh on the premise of the book.)
Right away, though, I loved the idea of the secret library. And the references to some of the social situations and how they morphed after the alien invasion felt pretty realistic. I also think it’s really fun when a book creates its own fandom, whether that’s a famous book or movie or in this case, a famous band. I loved all the snippets about the Starry Eyed– interviews, lyrics, news spots, everything that made them seem real.
It took me a little while to get into Ellie. She’s a little prickly, which I grew to understand and love once I understood why. At first I think I worried she would be too judgy– but it becomes obvious fairly quickly that she’s just guarded and for good reasons.
I really liked the way Ellie and Morris’s relationship developed. I also loved that the story followed Ellie’s feelings about physical affection. I feel like that can be a really alienating thing to feel, especially as a teenager when there’s so much emphasis on dating and attraction. So I loved that this story models someone who’s different, and a relationship in which that’s okay.
Plot-wise, I feel like some people are going to argue that the end is kind of too easy. I don’t want to give anything away. For me, I enjoyed the end– there were some elements of it that I could see coming, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of it. This is one of those books that sets up the second book in the last few pages of the first, so I’m sure there will be a sequel. Right now I plan to read it. I’m interested enough in Ellie and Morris’s story to invest in another book for sure!
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Ellie describes herself as on the spectrum of asexuality (gender isn’t important to her with regard to romantic love) and isn’t generally interested in romantic physical intimacy. She’s also black. There are a couple minor characters that identify with they/them pronouns.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.
Some references to sex and kissing. Brief kissing between boy and girl.
Ellie and her friends witness human executions (someone hanged to death) and trauma caused by experimentation. Some situations of peril and battle situations. Nothing grossly graphic, but the kinds of things you’d expect in a post-apocalyptic world.
Ellie’s mother is an alcoholic.
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