I dove into Ignite the Stars expecting a space opera in the vein of Across the Universe. But what I got was so, so much more. Not only does Ignite the Stars have amazing Asian representation on its cover—which helped me visualize our main character Ia the entire time—it embodies everything I love in an anime. Here’s how this edge-of-your seat, wild-joyride of a debut stole my breath away in true, binge-worthy fashion:
- The world building. The scope of it is deliciously massive, yet never overwhelming. Maura gives you just enough info to satisfy and drive your hunger for more. To whet your appetite: we have genetically perfect families who’s patented the dimpled chin, of all things, artificial fingertips that can steal another’s prints with a simple touch, and a futuristic version of Google hangouts that literally involves logging your consciousness onto a cloud-like shared drive.
- The plot. I’m a sucker for school stories, especially when they explore difficult roommate situations. And my god is Ia one difficult roommate to have. Prepare yourself for a lot of awkward silences, eye contact, and bathroom-sleeping. It makes the resulting friendship so worth it. But roommate woes soon become the least of your worries. This book effortlessly zooms in and out, going from intimate, personal stakes to universe-in-the-balance chapters.
- The characters. Ia is the best OP (over-powered) character I’ve read about in a long time. She’s badass, she knows it, and she shows There was never a moment when I doubted Ia’s title—and legacy—as the Blood Wolf of the Skies. Need a fingerprint? Break a finger! Her roommate Brinn is her foil, immediately relatable and just trying to blend in, even if that means concealing her roots and unique identity. And KNIVES. Don’t get me started on our Flight Master, who just needs a hug (I volunteer). The characters are all brilliant on their own, but when they come together, their dynamics are electrifying.
- The greater message. Ignite the Stars doesn’t shy away from tackling tough, relevant topics. One of my favorite themes was how you can seize the future and make it yours, how you can honor your past and where you came from while continuing to define your identity.
I also harassed Maura into divulging some extra info. What can I say? I would be a great asset to the Olympus Commonwealth 😉
1) My love for Knives is no secret. His emotional vulnerability is so convincing. He doesn’t posture as a “bad boy,” necessarily, but he has his demons all the same. How did you come up with this character? Where there any influences? Also, if Knives were in a fanfiction that’s set outside of the Ignite the Stars universe, what universe would that be and what role would he play?
Knives is my precious baby deer. I adore him so much. In the beginning, he was just meant to be like any tsundere type–a grump with a soft, squishy heart. As I started to revise, I was able to build that archetype out a lot more and figure out his family background and what specifically happened in his past to get him to where we see him at the beginning of the book. As for influences, I would definitely say Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. On the anime side, Knives is soooo Kei Tsukishima from Haikyuu and Tsukasa Domyoji from Hana Yori Dango. And also Gilbert Blythe–he’s the OG tsundere.
2) OMG ZUKOOOO. See, guys, I’m telling you Knives is a good one (and MINE). I also want to know Ia’s role in this alternate universe fanfic (I’m totally not gearing up to write one…). How would she continue to make Knives’ life miserable while also making him feel allll things he should not feel?
If Ia was in this same Alternate Universe, she would be the tomboyish lower class girl who furiously chases Knives through winding alleyways because she thinks he stole her wallet (which she needed to pay her older brother’s medical bills). Of course, Knives didn’t steal the money at all; it just unknowingly fell into the hood of his sweater. Naturally Knives doesn’t understand why the few dollars in her wallet is so important to Ia. Maybe there’s even a scene where all the money is tragically blown away by the wind, and he’s like “what’s the big deal?” and she HATES HIM SO MUCH for it. Thus their feud begins.
3) I would watch this k-drama, hands down.
Because this is a duology—thank goodness for that—what can we expect in Ignite the Stars 2? (Please say more Knia scenes. Pleaseeee). But really, what sort of journeys will Brinn, Ia, and Knives take? And how much will I suffer?
Yes, I can promise you Knia scenes!!
Book 2 takes place about a month after book 1 ends, and everyone at Aphelion is in the middle of picking up all the pieces and repairing the damage that has happened. As the political climate shifts to war, our three main characters have to carry more difficult and heavier weights on their shoulders, which cause a lot of cracks in the bonds they have with each other.
Which leads me to the quick pitch for this book– that it’s about kids who are thrown into a war and are too scared to fight it. Each character is faced with the impossible task of holding on to hope in the face of tragedy. They’re constantly asking the questions: How do we keep fighting? How do we keep on living?
And are you going to suffer, Joan? Nahhh….
AVOIDING THE QUESTION, I SEE…
2019 is still a ways away, but Ignite the Stars is available NOW!!!! Snag your copy and make sure to add it on Goodreads!