Bristling with revenge and betrayal, Scavenge the Stars will intrigue readers into the final moments and leave them desperate for more.
Rating: 4.25 Stars
An eARC of this book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are completely my own and not influenced in anyway. Thank you to Disney-Hyperion Books and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this one early!
Scavenge the Stars
Author: Tara Sim
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Synopsis: When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.
Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…
Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo. (Goodreads)
Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim is a new addition to the pantheon of YA retellings, but one that stands out among the rest. While technically a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, Scavenge the Stars brings its own intrigue and drama to the story.
Amaya is just days away from paying off her family’s debt through hard labor on a debtor ship, when she rescues a mysterious man floating in the water. When she provides the man the means of escape from the ship’s violent captain, he presents her the opportunity of a lifetime: getting revenge on those who have wronged her and her family. Cayo is trying to pull together the shambles of his privileged, playboy life. Having given up the allure of the gambling dens of Moray, Cayo is focused on saving his family’s name and fortune. But Moray is filled with past betrayals and future plots that entangled Amaya and Cayo together in ways they could never predict.
Amaya is everything I want in a female main character. Strong and soft in equal turns, and loyal to a fault. There are so many layers to her character, and like many people, she has different aspects of herself that she only shows to certain people. Her strength is not just a violent, revenge seeking side, but also in her emotional strength from what she has endured on the debtor ship. She is written with a core of iron, but she has the compassion that balances her out into a character the reader can relate to and root for.
To my unending surprise, Cayo became my favorite character. I was not expecting a subplot of gambling addiction, but it was there, and it was written masterfully. Anyone who has dealt with addiction will feel everything Cayo feels through the story. Sim wrote Cayo’s flaws in a way that neither condemns him nor absolves him for his past mistakes. Cayo is unflinchingly human and that is the kind of characterization I like to see in books.
Though a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, this story stands on its own and has its own twists. The groundwork for the plot twits are subtle, but they are there. The book isn’t necessarily action packed, but I found myself enthralled in watching Amaya and Cayo dancing around each other’s plots. While Scavenge the Stars focuses mostly on Amaya and Cayo, the bones for bigger intrigue and plots are being placed throughout the story. There is a slow burning political side plot that I’m dying to see play out in future books.
My two criticisms fall on parts of the writing. First, Amaya and the crew of children on the debtor ship are renamed as insects, but once off the ship Amaya makes a big deal about calling them by their real names. My issue comes in when she still refers to them by their insect name most of the time. It’s never consistent and that bugged me (oh wow, bad pun not intended, but I’m leaving it in). There is also a bit of time jumping in the writing, but it’s never explicitly structured. You’ll be in the current time and then all of a sudden, we are getting some past scene with Amaya and Boon. Now, I was reading an eARC, so it’s possible that this has been smoothed out in the final book, but I still needed to bring it up.
In Scavenge the Stars, Tara Sim gives us two startlingly real main characters and a story full of strength and intrigue. These are the kind of stories I hope to read more of in 2020.
Scavenge the Stars will be released on January 7, 2020. You can pre-order the novel at the publisher’s website.