Monday, July 7, 2014

As Stars Fall by Christie Nieman

Title:  As Stars Fall
Author:  Christie Nieman
Genre:  Young Adult / Contemporary
Publisher:  Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date:  1st July 2014
ISBN:  9781743517697
Stand Alone/Series:  Stand Alone
Pages:  320 Pages
First Lines:  The light was strange.  The darkness was a deep red, and there was a thickness between the stars.  And the air was strange too.  It had a bitter tang.

Synopsis:  In north-eastern Victoria, bush-covered hills erupt into flames. A Bush Stone-curlew escapes the fire but a woman studying the endangered bird does not.
When Robin's parents split up after the fire, her mother drags her from the country to a new life in the ugly city. Robin misses her dog, her best-friend, the cows, trees, creek, bushland and, especially, the birds. Robin is a self-confessed, signed-up, card-carrying bird-nerd. Just like her dad.
On the first day at her new school, Robin meets Delia. She's freaky, a bit of a workaholic, and definitely not good for Robin's image. Delia's older brother Seth has given up school to prowl the city streets. He is angry at everything, but mostly at the fire that killed his mother.
 When the Bush Stone-curlew turns up in the city parklands next to Seth and Delia's house the three teenagers become inextricably linked. Soon their lives are circling tighter and tighter around each other, and the curlew.

My Thoughts:  As Stars Fall was one of those books that I really enjoyed, most of the time.  I hate to say it but there was a part in the middle in the section named "States and Transitions" where it was, well for me, a bit slow and I kept putting the book down, because I just wasn't interested.

In saying that,  I really enjoyed the rest of the story.  The beginning, "Disturbance" drew me in, and had me feeling sad for both the bird and the woman. Especially the woman as she lost her life in the fire.  We've had some serious fires in Australia, and in February 2009 was the most extreme.  The fires were so bad that they jumped roads and incinerated cars, homes, people.  "Black Saturday" was a very sad day, and the pictures that circulated, including the Koala who came up to the cyclist for water, showed how harsh and unrelenting it was.

The characters were unique, and it was easy to tell each voice apart.  It is labelled at the beginning of a narration change, but even so, to me, it didn't seem needed.  Robin is the new girl at school, a country girl, who has moved to the city with her mother.  She's strong but confused on how she fits into the new city life and is having trouble adjusting.

Delia and Seth are struggling to deal with their grief, and anger; the aftermath of losing their mother.  Living with their father who is drowning out his sorrows with alcohol rather than dealing with his grief head on.  Delia seems to be a little bit of a loner at school, but when it comes to the new girl she has no problem sticking her neck out for her and telling the other "In" girls just how it is.  I feel like she's trying to be so strong that she's just about to crumble under the surface.  Seth skips school, and is drowning out his sorrows another way.  But the thing I love the most about these characters, is how they each see the bush stone curlew.  And this is what ties them all together.

The story is narrated by all three of these characters, Robin in first person, and Delia and Seth in third person.  But occasionally throughout the book, you see the curlew narrating her story, as well as an essay here and there from Selena.  It adds to the story I think, but it also seems to slow the narration and jars it a little.

Overall I did like this book.  There are bits that I didn't like, but it picks up where it needs to towards the end and I loved the ending.  Not for everyone though.

Book received from:  Pan Macmillan Australia



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