review: shadows cast by stars

05 July 2012

book info:
ages: 12-13 and up
grades: 6 and up (years 8 and up)
on sale: now
copy from: author
pages: 464

title: Shadows Cast by Stars
author: Catherine Knutsson

beautiful cover!

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…

My first thoughts after finishing this was that it isn't really a dystopian novel. At the start, it did, but then when Cassandra and her family move to the Island. There's only one paragraph explaining the searches for aboriginal blood, and the threat didn't build up or Cassandra didn't like, nearly escape an official trying to capture her. There wasn't much description, except that one paragraph that says how serious it is. From there on, everything happens on the Island, living in the Old Way, which means like how some Native Americans do today. There's no contact from the outside world, so that ends the dystopian part.

The actual story was intriguing, and very original. The myth and the magic is well done. However, there was something very lacking. The setting. When I read, I paint a picture in my head of what's happening, and I play it out in my head like a film. But without knowing certain small things, like the colour of the sky at this point in the story or something. When setting description is done, however, it's great! I'd just like for there to be more of it. I think, what's also missing a little, is the description of the characters. I have no idea what Cassandra or her twin brother Paul look like. There's once again, a wee tiny bit of description on certain characters, but not enough for me. 

Besides all this, the plot line is brilliant. There isn't many Native American young adult books, and learning all these mythical creatures and imagining what it's light to have visions or be so closely spiritual with the land is something enriching. A nice change from horribly paranormal books. 

I give this book three trees, marking down because of what I explained above. It's a good book, and I'd recommend it for those of you who are interested in tribal culture and Native American folklore. I'd also like to thank Catherine for providing me with the (signed!) book, and lovely bookmarks!

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