All the Stars Left Behind
by Ashley Graham
Published June 6th 2017
by Entangled: Teen
Leda has Spina Bifida with an L5 lesion thus she needs crutches to get around. This did not stop her cold and distant mother from moving her from her home in Manhattan and leaving her at her grandmother and uncle’s house in arctic Norway. There she meets Roar, her uncle’s new employee and the earth stops. As she gets entangled in her attraction for this suspicious man she learns there is more to her feelings than just chemistry.
I really wanted to like Leda. She can’t feel much in the muscles down her legs, and in her ankles and toes. She can walk without crutches but runs the risk of falling. She’s a smart girl who was constantly tested by her father to be a mathematician. She is mourning her father’s death, the parent she was close to and made her feel loved. She’s a modern girl who wants to make decisions for herself and have no other input from anyone else. She speaks the language and is full Norwegian. There are some really nice details here.
Roar has tattoos that move and change. He is an alien the quasi-leader who was sent to find a weapon that he knows nothing about except that he will know it when he feels it. He was trained in modern earth vernacular and has a love for quirky earth t-shirts. Plus he can run really fast, like eye blurring fast. I liked him. It was hard not to when he didn’t see Leda’s crutches at all, only the girl using them.
The crew was an interesting mix, it came together really quickly and without drama of any kind. Stein has his own story arc and it was definitely a worthy attempt at adding some LGBT+ conflict. Oline had a conflictal arc near the end that I appreciated. Petrus is Roar’s best friend and a love interest for Stein as well as having an empathetic ability that I didn’t really understand. Then we have Leda’s contribution. Her grandmother who we learn about the entire back history of the aliens on the planet from. Her uncle who represents the position of the elders and is in love with an earth doctor he brings with and is instrumental to Leda and Roar understanding what is going on with them. Then there is her cousin Nils and his mother, Eren, who are both Woede, of the alien race fighting Roar and his people. So much potential here and just so many things lightly touched on.
Basically Leda’s life implodes and it all happens in that moment between her and Roar. This is a straight up romance, go past go and collect $200! I liked that it was really about aliens and how they live among us. The story does get a little contrived with Leda being a special snowflake as she is the weapon (we learn this in the blurb) but the setup won me over to keep reading despite the flaws. (Like the pacing being way, way off. It was super quick, too quick.) Once we moved from earth to space I wasn’t such a fan of where the story went. I was rolling with the story fine at first but the more I read the shakier the story developed.
I was not a fan of the idea to enjoy the moment – that is constantly pushed… if life was just about enjoyment we’d lay in bed all day and not do a thing! It’s not that it doesn’t have its place but it didn’t fit into the story well when Leda and Roar kept going on about it. I felt like 12 year olds had fallen in love. I think there was an attempt to make this a forbidden love romance and the writing just made it so tough to believe.
“All my life, people told me what I was, who I was, what I had to do and when. They told me I didn’t have a choice. And for a long time, I believed them. But you showed me it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be more than what other people say you are. You can be anything you want.”
I think this was meant to be a theme through the book as it incorporated a couple characters. It just doesn’t come through the story. I kept wondering why Leda felt this way as she was supported very lovingly by her father who never in fact told her who she was nor what she had to do or when. He left her totally in the dark about those things! As far as I know the only thing she had no choice about was moving to Manhattan and she was going away to college soon and that would become moot. This bugged me through the entire book! Why does she keep saying this? Explain it at least if you can’t show me!
The hard science sounds factual so at least it makes sense from the way the ship uses dark matter to how the cloaking works as well as the cool chip and the way the ship interface is genetic. The hard science continued to be well developed through the story! What I understood about the Woede was cool, their weapon to attack ships especially and why Eren was so scared of her father but there is an aspect of Eren’s explanation that went right over my head that I wish were restated better by the uncle or the doctor and what the implications are so that I can understand. The blood science also made sense to me from the beginning reaction to the concept at the end. The strength of this author is definitely the science.
BOTTOM LINE: Hard science space alien romance with tons of lost potential.
The worst was that the villains made absolutely no sense. We even got a little explanation or rather conclusions from Leda and Roar but it was so muddy and thin I just wasn’t sure what they were saying. I am pretty good at reading into events that don’t make sense to most people and I have to say I was getting very little from the mess of an ending. Worse it started to get boring even with twists and revelations happening left and right. Some I guessed and some I think I know what was meant and some was absolutely murky. The end is supposed to be a shining light and this cast what is barely a glow. There was so much potential in this book that I seriously believe it simply needs some more rewrites and editor guidance.
Thanks to Entangled Teen for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.