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The Stars in Their Eyes by Kristy Gardner 

Oh my! Get ready for something exciting, wrought with terror, but in the end, life-affirming! 

When the aliens attacked Seattle, Calay and Tess were at home in their apartment on the fourth floor of their building. They heard the explosion and the next thing they knew, the entire building was upended! Freeing themselves from the rubble, they stumbled out to the street into the smoke and confusion and the sight of a massive alien spacecraft hovering overhead. Horrified, they watched as their neighbors were systematically vaporized into a fine red mist by a blue light emitted from the ship. They turned and ran. But as long as they stayed in the shadows and as long as they stayed together, they knew they could survive. 

The Stars in Their Eyes is horrifyingly intense and gut-wrenching, full of twists and turns with never a dull moment. Even when the action calms and the characters are allowed a respite, their minds and emotions are engaged and on alert, reliving the past, frantically planning the next move, and hoping, always hoping for a positive outcome. 

Calay is the epitome of impulsiveness; the character admits as much upfront. Her impulsivity is on full display throughout her story, and it both endangers her and saves her life. She is inspiring in that despite everything she comes up against, she fixedly remains determined to find the love of her life, Tess. She finds some good in what’s left of her world, but the people she encounters are almost all heinous, desperate, and cruel, the kind who come back to haunt you. The author’s vision of the collapse of humanity is grim but so realistic feeling. And I won’t soon forget Max. 

The author’s imagery of the world after The Change allows readers to develop a clear picture of the conditions the characters are dealing with and are film-ready. The writing and flow of the plot will keep you glued to the pages way past bedtime. So much happens in what seems to be one three days. 

The terrifying description of the sound of whirring and the agonized grinding of metal when the alien pods were nearby quickly put my nerves on edge. The whirring reminded me of the noise the aliens made in the 1953 The War of the Worlds film starring Gene Barry. I first saw this movie as a child (what were my parents thinking?!), and the result then was the same as it was the night having started this book: a nightmare. Whew!

Besides the intense and terrifying alien action, the story also contains adult scenes of a sexual nature, romantic encounters and others that are anything but. Our main character is half of a loving lesbian couple at the beginning of the story, a heterosexual couple when on the run, and there are many instances of the threat or attempts at rape. This book is not for youngsters.

I recommend THE STARS IN THEIR EYES to readers who would enjoy a dark queer sci-fi/post-apocalyptic love story, an engaging, sympathetic, and strong female protagonist, and a plot that isn’t the same old, same old; be ready for something entirely different!

 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through NetGalley and TBR and Beyond Book Tours.

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