Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson

Title: Shadows Cast by Stars
Author: Catherine Knutsson
Pages: 464 pages
Format acquired: Hardcover
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication date: June 5th 2012
Source: Purchased from Booksale
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Old ways are pitted against new horrors in this compellingly crafted dystopian tale about a girl who is both healer and seer. Two hundred years from now, blood has become the most valuable commodity on the planet—especially the blood of aboriginal peoples, for it contains antibodies that protect them from the Plague ravaging the rest of the world.

Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to Plague, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe—government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood. When a search threatens Cassandra and her family, they flee to the Island: a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerilla warriors—and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in. And though the village healer has taken her under her wing, and the tribal leader’s son into his heart, the creatures of the spirit world are angry, and they have chosen Cassandra to be their voice and instrument....

Incorporating the traditions of the First Peoples as well as the more familiar stories of Greek mythology and Arthurian legend, Shadows Cast by Stars is a haunting, beautifully written story that breathes new life into ancient customs.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)


Yay for long overdue posts and bargain book shop finds! I found this gem of a book during my regular trips to Booksale, our local secondhand bargain book store (yes, I shop there. Who doesn't? That place is freaking awesome!) And I'm typing this up after weeks of Louisse nagging bugging me to post one. School was really hectic and hence my inability to read books, affecting my review posting schedule. *sigh* I wish I had more time for books that aren't about chemistry or geometry. *insert sad, frustrated face* BUT at every tunnel, there is a rainbow... or every light at the end of a storm. I'm not entirely sure, but I got to read an awesome review-worthy book and I'm typing up a review for it. God is great! Hahahaa!

First of all, uh-mazing cover. To be honest, I still don't know why there's a crow-bird in the background, but hey I could have just missed it. This book lies more on the unexplored part of the Dystopian category where everything is back to basics and people are one with nature. Kind of like For Darkness Shows The Stars and that book with the technological girl and hunter boy and he can smell her period and they sleep together? I forgot the title but I liked it. The world is now overrun by a deadly (?) virus/plague and they need the blood of the aboriginal people so the regular people (ehem, us) can survive. First off, wicked government system right here. I mean, harvesting people?! I'm not sure if it's awesome or freaky. My morality is being questioned. But this fact isn't even that expounded on. It just mentioned that Cass's blood (and her family's) was needed for saving the rest of the population. So what do you do when the rest of the world needs your precious plasma cells? You run away, of course! Ha! Those fools. From here, I was wondering "Why won't just she give it?" I mean, not everyone can be like Mother Teresa and give everything but I'm sure they won't kill you. It seemed selfish for her to run away and hide but then again, the government IS harvesting people so that's a big play on wondering how safe they really are. I feel like the author should have explained more at what happened to the people in the Corridor and why the plague existed but I really appreciated the description of the Island. It was as if I were in this magical and dream-like place. Ms. Knutsson gave an amazing prose for this one. I felt like I were there myself smelling the crisp air and seeing the houses. I'd give it a 7.5/10 for general plot background since I think it lacked a bit more grounding but amazing detail on the latter. Oh and strangely, this reminds me of Avatar: The Last Airbender (as in the cartoon series) I don't know why but I think it's the whole feel of the story.

Totally different ball game on the characters, though. I really think that this book focused more on some of the characters than the actual plot which is new, but confusing. I'd appreciate more explaining so as to set a solid structure but I also enjoyed the attention in character building. I'm torn! Hahaha! Anyway, I love how Cassandra, our protag is this sort of scared, brave character. She won't show it, but she's actually pants-pissingly scared and worried about everything. She looks fine and tough on the surface but underneath, she's shaking with fear. I really admire people like her because not everyone can be composed under stress. While others are bawling with fear, she's using all that energy to solve her problems instead. I also like how there was a love triangle but at the same time there wasn't. She liked Bran (which reminds me of muffins) and then there's this obnoxious d-bag who gets up all in her grill. Not cool. There's also the case of annoying, clingy ex-girlfriend Avalon who hates her because she exists (which is stupid but reasonable to a jealous ex). The other characters seemed to play fleeting roles so I'd leave them out. More development could have been done with Bran and Paul and Madda and all the others.

For me, this book was more about spiritual exploration. Rituals, ceremonies, gods and spirits and all that jazz. It was also like a mini History Channel show about the Aboriginal people and South American, Indian, Pocahontas old-world-ish. I really love history so this definitely gave it major plus points. The only real issues I had was the plot and some major character development but other than that, Ms. Knutsson's writing is amazing. It's very photographic. Her words will have a way of their own in your imagination so be prepared. I'd say this book was slow at the beginning but gained some speed at the end.

Overall, I'd say this book is not for everyone but if you enjoy the mystical being and kick-ass history, and cultural adventures then this is the book for you.


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