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Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population. Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerou Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population. Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her. Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does. Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.


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Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population. Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerou Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population. Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her. Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does. Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

30 review for The Sound of Stars

  1. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Another Booktube video - this time all about the Top 10 Books of 2020 (so far) . Now that you know this fabulous book made the list, check out the video to see the rest! "If we get separated and you have to choose between life and joining us, choose life, okay? Live. Live for us. Breathe for us. Survive for us." Janelle aka Ellie is one of the few survivors who made it through the first few waves of the Ilori alien invasion. The new world is...depressingly different. The Ilori Another Booktube video - this time all about the Top 10 Books of 2020 (so far) . Now that you know this fabulous book made the list, check out the video to see the rest! "If we get separated and you have to choose between life and joining us, choose life, okay? Live. Live for us. Breathe for us. Survive for us." Janelle aka Ellie is one of the few survivors who made it through the first few waves of the Ilori alien invasion. The new world is...depressingly different. The Ilori are keeping the few remaining humans alive and imprisoned in their apartment complex. And while she's grateful to be alive - and have her mother and father with her - she knows that there is something sinister lurking just below the surface. Ellie knows all the rules - no free thinking, no talking after hours, no moving from her bed past curfew...and yet, so draws the line at books. And I'll do it, every time, if it means a story can change someone's outlook.... She runs an illegal library to help her and her fellow prison-mates get by. But that all changes when one of *them* discovers her secret. M0Rr1S - aka Morris - is a labmade Ilori, which means he's an Ilori but innately inferior because he contains human aspects, which leaves him prone to emotions. M0Rr1S hadn't realized until then just how expendable his race was to the true Ilori. But Morris has a secret - he loves music. And he is lonely. When he discovers Ellie's secret library, he finds it within himself to resist the rules of true Ilori and keep her safe. However, a secret this big is bound to be let loose - but neither of them could even begin to comprehend the consequences. "May I?" he asks, holding an arm out for me to take. "May you what?" "Carry you across the world while I can?" This one ended up being surprisingly fun! Every so often I really want a throwback to the young adult books that I read back in the day - and this one was perfect. I was so happy to have been sent this one. So, keep in mind you might need to be in the mood for an over-the-top YA to get the full effect. Yes the romance bordered on quicker-than-instant, the plot had a few glaring holes and I really questioned how the "bad guys" ever stayed in control - and yet I was having so much fun that I barely cared. I loved the idea of Ellie's secret library and Morris's desire to collect music. It was such a sweet connection between the two. I do wish they were given a few more weeks to develop their relationship rather the insta-connection, but the two of them ultimately clicked really well. I also really liked the concept of the Ilori aliens - the labmade vs the true provided an interesting dynamic to the book. The way the invasion was implemented and the increasingly suspicious behavior by Morris really held my attention. I was really curious how it would all come together in the end - and was pleasantly surprised in the end! Overall, I had a lot of fun between these pages!! A huge thank you to the author and Inkyard Press for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review All quotes come from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alechia

    I mean... I feel like I have to give myself the best rating possible, since I was a *tough* judge of my own work while writing it, you know?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Three it started sooo good but that ending!!! It ruined all my expectations stars!!! There are so many good intriguing, entertaining things about this book keep my attention like popular culture references used with song and book quotes, bounding friendship and connection between a human and alien (my childhood’s favorite movie is E.T., I was raised with my adoration of Spielberg and alien nations till I met Ripley in Scott’s Alien movie!), and of course road trip idea. But there is also annoying Three it started sooo good but that ending!!! It ruined all my expectations stars!!! There are so many good intriguing, entertaining things about this book keep my attention like popular culture references used with song and book quotes, bounding friendship and connection between a human and alien (my childhood’s favorite movie is E.T., I was raised with my adoration of Spielberg and alien nations till I met Ripley in Scott’s Alien movie!), and of course road trip idea. But there is also annoying things which also make me pissed off when I’m starting to read a book. Do you want examples? I don’t like slowness, barely moving pacing and I also don’t like the books with unexplained situations and unanswered questions. The ending is as important as the beginning for me! (Sometimes, it is more important, especially shocking, twisty ones are always my preference.) So I tossed between 3 and 4 stars and finally I decided to give 3 because there are so much potential this book and I also like to read if there will be sequel which helps me to calm my nerves sharpened with too many question marks. Both Janelle and Morris are relatable, lovable characters. But the slowness at the beginning prevents us to learn more about their stories and connections. And I wish the road trip wouldn’t be a quick journey to reach the church. It could take longer time with additional, enriched storylines. I also liked the book’s approach to the LGBTQ community, and other basic and crucial heavy issues like unfairness, injustice, inequality. I was so close to give four stars till I read the ending and I wanted to throw the book against the wall ( or throw out window like Bradley Cooper’s character did at “Silver Linings Playbook”, he was tougher grader than me because he threw Hemingway’s “A Farewell to arms”!!!) because I hate the ending wholeheartedly and it absorbed all the positive feelings about this book. So I need a sequel ASAP for answers and unexplained parts and I wish the author plans to write it because I love those characters and I love to read more of them. I think the debut novel has so much potential and the author’s intellectuality, writing style are efficient and promising. So I love to read her upcoming works ( I hope it starts with a squeal ) Special thanks to NetGalley, Inkyard Press, (I need to thank specially the designer of this cover, it’s amazing work) for sharing me this ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    ♠ TABI ♠

    hi this sounds like all the tropes I love smashed into one story and I need it now and also I NEED THIS COVER AS A POSTER ASAP cause I just wanna pin it up on my ceiling and lay on my bed ogling it for hours hi this sounds like all the tropes I love smashed into one story and I need it now and also I NEED THIS COVER AS A POSTER ASAP cause I just wanna pin it up on my ceiling and lay on my bed ogling it for hours

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell

    no idea if this will be good or not but I want to rub my tongue on that cover

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fadwa (Word Wonders)

    I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review CW: colonization, violence, execution, oppression, brainwashing and mind control, anxiety, panic attacks. I’ve been pushing away writing this review for weeks now because I’m unsure of what to say. Not because the book is bad, mind you, it’s the complete opposite. I loved this book so much and it made me feel so many things that I just…don’t know how to put into words or how to properly convey those feelings and emotion I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review CW: colonization, violence, execution, oppression, brainwashing and mind control, anxiety, panic attacks. I’ve been pushing away writing this review for weeks now because I’m unsure of what to say. Not because the book is bad, mind you, it’s the complete opposite. I loved this book so much and it made me feel so many things that I just…don’t know how to put into words or how to properly convey those feelings and emotions it left me with, even now several weeks and books later. But I want to give it a try now because I want more people to hear about it and give it a try. So if you know me, you know that I rarely pick up sci-fi, it just doesn’t appeal to me, spaceships and futuristic things aren’t really my thing if not laced with other things which is the case for most sci-fi, especially since the writing tends to be direct and kind of…rigid? I don’t know how else to explain it. But The Sound of Stars made me question everything I ever thought about the genre and made me want to look into it more and explore other titles. The writing is beautiful and powerful, it never fails to drive the point home with a punch and leaves you thinking about it for a while after reading it, but it also does so in such a good manner, with words weaved together so gorgeously that you take those words in with open arms. Full review posted on my blog : Word Wonders

  7. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not in any way affect my opinions. This book is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I'm struggling to figure out how to review this one, because it is such a masterpiece and no review of mine could ever do it justice. But alas I got an arc so I guess I'll have to try and put my feelings for this book into words. I want to touch briefly on the lot before I move onto all of my favourite par I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not in any way affect my opinions. This book is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I'm struggling to figure out how to review this one, because it is such a masterpiece and no review of mine could ever do it justice. But alas I got an arc so I guess I'll have to try and put my feelings for this book into words. I want to touch briefly on the lot before I move onto all of my favourite parts. Personally I thought the plot was perfect, but I think you need to know what you’re getting into to. This book isn’t action packed and full of explosions. The plot was engaging, but it was also very much a back burner part of the story. It was there, and it was well done, but it wasn’t front and centre. This book was first and foremost about the characters. (but also that TWIST. The ending left me shook y’all) I also want to really highlight the writing. It was so subtly gorgeous. I read this book very slowly, I large part because I couldn't help but linger over every word. I love pretty writing, and fall in love with writing styles easily, but it's rare for me to feel quite the need to take in every single perfect word the way I did with this one. The writing transported me into another world, and I spent the entire time in awe of it. The world building was masterful as well. The book took place in the aftermath of an alien invasion, but due to the way it was done I felt like I was learning to understand the way the world worked after the invasion along with the characters. I didn't always understand, but I was never confused - instead it was a very purposeful thing. The Sound of the Stars also had a lot of social and political commentary, and I applaud Alechia Dow for her brilliant handling of that. It dealt heavily with the more subtle themes of colonialism, and also had outright discussions about consent, and discrimination, and the violence that marginalized people face. I also want to appreciate the representation. Our main character is a bi demi black girl, and the other main character is implied to be demi as well. There was also a large side character who was nonbinary. And then, of course, that leads into the characters. The characters y’all. I do not have the words for how much I love these characters. Firstly we have Morris. He is the literal sweetest bean ever. I love him so much. He’s a little bit confused about the whole feelings thing, but he also loves so fiercely. He adores music, and passionately believes in freedom. He always tries his best to do the right thing, even if he screws up sometimes. Also he just wants a friend and he’s so soft and sweet and I LOVE HIM Secondly we have Janelle, or Ellie. Y’all I do not have the words for how much I love Ellie. I do not have words. She is just… an icon. She is so fucking messy, but that’s what makes her so wonderful. Ellie isn’t your typical heroine trying to save the world - she isn’t really sure if humanity even deserves saving. She’s angry and she’s hurt and she’s passionate and she will do anything for her family and her books, and to hell with the rest of the world. She is one of the most real protagonists I’ve read in a long time, and I adore her.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura Weymouth

    So, I was lucky enough to read this book at an early stage and can safely say I expect many people to just adore it. Dow's debut is a fun, heartfelt scifi romp reminiscent of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, featuring eminently shippable protagonists, a high-stakes road trip, and a gorgeous exploration of the humanizing influence of music and literature. One of my most anticipated releases of 2020

  9. 4 out of 5

    Fanna

    February 19, 2020: Consider reading this review over on my blog! ➝ Sum it up in points! ✔ humanity meets hope through resistance ✔ alien invasion and class-ism ✔ rebellious lover of books + fearless lover of music ✔ human-alien romance ✔ great references ✔ plus-size, biracial, demisexual MC with anxiety ✔ gender-queer & bisexual side characters The Sound of Stars travels through a dystopian, post alien-invasion New York where rules are drilled and humans are expected to stay at the lower strata. In the m February 19, 2020: Consider reading this review over on my blog! ➝ Sum it up in points! ✔ humanity meets hope through resistance ✔ alien invasion and class-ism ✔ rebellious lover of books + fearless lover of music ✔ human-alien romance ✔ great references ✔ plus-size, biracial, demisexual MC with anxiety ✔ gender-queer & bisexual side characters The Sound of Stars travels through a dystopian, post alien-invasion New York where rules are drilled and humans are expected to stay at the lower strata. In the midst of fear and silent chaos, a human girl who loves books and an alien boy who loves music find each other to better see some hope. While the macro picture of science-fiction and romance are explored wonderfully, the micro themes of racism and discrimination are also touched. An excellent sexual diversity and the perfect inclusion of mental health declination in the middle of survival are also great aspects of the story. A definitive recommendation for those who love sound and words sprawled across a sky of romantic, hopeful, and rebellious colours! ➝Trigger Warnings ✔ public execution, eyeing death in the face ✔ chronic fear for life ✔ alcoholic mother & acutely stressed father ✔ discrimination, feeling inferior to those in power ✔ lack of self-identity, constant struggle Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this via my participation in a blog tour but that, in no way, affects my rating and/or review. Thank you, FFBC Tours and Inkyard Press! August 20, 2019: Before anything else that the blurb says, THAT COVER is giving me life and I already want to read this more than anything else. Then comes my fave trope of alien falls in love with human, like YEAAAA

  10. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    DNF'ed at pg 80. Sometimes I try to read a hundred pages or so if a book is so and so, other times I DNF faster. In this case I felt no conection to the plot or the characters, the love the author expresses for books is amazing, but that's it. Seems like the characters keep repeating themselves about how they feel, with some shocking elements about the invasion in Janelle's POV and about the alien society workings in Morris' POW, but not enough to make me want to keep reading, sadly.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Helen Power

    < Synopsis Two years prior to the beginning of this book, aliens named the Ilori took over Earth, effectively oppressing mankind as they plan to transform the planet into a new vacation spot.  Ellie Baker is a teenage girl who lives in her old apartment building, which has been completely taken over by Ilori.  Books and other forms of artistic expression are no longer allowed, but she runs an illegal library in the basement.  M0Rr1S (Morris) is a lab-born Ilori, but he isn't like the rest. H < Synopsis Two years prior to the beginning of this book, aliens named the Ilori took over Earth, effectively oppressing mankind as they plan to transform the planet into a new vacation spot.  Ellie Baker is a teenage girl who lives in her old apartment building, which has been completely taken over by Ilori.  Books and other forms of artistic expression are no longer allowed, but she runs an illegal library in the basement.  M0Rr1S (Morris) is a lab-born Ilori, but he isn't like the rest. He listens to forbidden music, and he has a soft spot for humans. When he meets Ellie and discovers her library, it's his duty to turn her in for execution.  But there's something about her that he is drawn to.  He confides in her that he just might have the solution to save mankind, but he needs her help... Setting This novel is set in a not-too-distant future where aliens have invaded.  They’re in the process of changing the world, because they hope it will become a vacation destination for their kind. The atmosphere of the story is dark and ominous, and gave me serious Hunger Games vibes early on. Despite this darkness in the plot and the setting, there is quite a bit of hope. Ellie hopes that books will save them, and Morris believes that music will be their redemption.  These themes carry throughout the novel, making it stand out from others like it.   Plot & Characters I wanted to love this book. A teenaged librarian living in a dystopian future? The novel starts off really strong, with several great twists early on, despite the slow pace and information dumping about aliens and how the new world works.  I assumed that after this information dump had occurred, the pace would pick up. Quite the opposite, actually. After this first third of the novel, the plot slows even more, and the focus clearly becomes on the budding romance between Ellie and Morris, not on saving mankind.  For a character like Ellie, who put her life in danger every single day by lending out books to other captives living in her building, I find it hard to believe that she would be so easily distracted from her ideals.  Whereas books like The Hunger Games focus on the dystopia and changing the world for the better with the romance being a side plot, The Sound of Stars takes the opposite approach, which is particularly evident in the latter half of the book. There are many fun literary references throughout the novel. Every chapter begins with a quote from a classic book, and there are quite a few references within the text itself, which made the bookworm inside me squeal with glee. That said, the author was a tad too heavy handed with the themes early on in the book. I didn’t need to be spoon-fed the fact that alien invasions are the science fiction version of oppression.  Unfortunately, these themes were not shown, but told through the dialogue of characters within the first 15% of the story.  I expected this to be a theme throughout, but I didn’t expect the characters to notice and comment on this right away, which in essence ruined the discovery of this for me.  I think this ties into my major complaint about this book.  There was far too much talking about what was happening, and not enough actual action. Again, too much telling, not enough showing.  My favourite relationship in the entire book was that between Ellie and her best friend, Alice, who she had feelings for romantically prior to the start of this book.   I wanted more of a discovery of this relationship, but instead, the author decided to focus on Ellie’s relationship with Morris.   The romance between Ellie and Morris was stilted and uncomfortable but masquerading as cute and progressive. I grimaced more than a few times when they were talking about their feelings, something that comes pretty easy to a cyborg that had to learn to hide his human-like emotions since they are forbidden among his kind.  I recommend this book to those looking for a slow-paced young adult science fiction that’s very heavy on the romance. * Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the arc to review! * This review appeared first on https://powerlibrarian.wordpress.com/ Instagram | Blog | Website | Twitter My 2020 Reading Challenge

  12. 4 out of 5

    Athena (OneReadingNurse)

    Thank you to Harlequin Teen via NetGalley for the eARC , all opinions are my own. I read some other reviews though and feel very alone in my way of thinking about the book, so I am concluding that my old curmudgeonly self is not the target audience, even though I have read within the YA scifi /romance genre before and loved it. So what threw me off? The labels, right from the start, the labels threw me off and I never recovered. Why does everything have to be labelled so that I need Google to unde Thank you to Harlequin Teen via NetGalley for the eARC , all opinions are my own. I read some other reviews though and feel very alone in my way of thinking about the book, so I am concluding that my old curmudgeonly self is not the target audience, even though I have read within the YA scifi /romance genre before and loved it. So what threw me off? The labels, right from the start, the labels threw me off and I never recovered. Why does everything have to be labelled so that I need Google to understand how people are being described? When I was a kid these things were just considered....like...normal. I don't understand how this is productive to teens or society in general At first I was just getting annoyed by the labels as I had to Google the check-check-check list of every label the author was using to describe people's genders and It just felt like a huge dump at the start of the book. I really do not believe that people talk like these characters and I hope it's not the future. Also for all the fact that Janelle didn't want to kiss Morris until she liked/trusted him, that's fine and reasonable, but is she really going to love him in the span of a week or so and THEN decide to kiss him? Actually that sounds like a pretty normal teenage girl thing but the author made a huge deal out of it. Trust might have been a more appropriate sentiment to the setting than love and more in character. People are so fixated on these labels though that I feel like the normalcy is lost on the rest of us, when really everyone is just being who they are. Avr0la also confused me as this is the first time I have seen "they" used to describe a singular person. I am lost trying to understand how someone is supposed to differentiate between one or two or more people being present when we read this? I don't ask this sarcastically, I am just bewildered and confused. I looked it up and I guess English just lacks a more proper pronoun so 'they' has gotten shunted into this role, but it's so confusing to me on paper and my head is spinning. Is it funny that Avi was my favorite silent hero character despite this? Even without the labels throwing me for a loop, this book is intended for a very niche group of book worms. I got about 75% of the literary references used but are a lot of readers going to know who, for example, Jesper and Wylan are? I can read YA but the whole thing felt very young to me with all the song lyrics and corny bits. I wouldn't hand this to a middle grader but I think a specific target group of YA would enjoy it. I also wasn't expecting this to be setting up a sequel so the ending lost points. My last gripe is that the book was SO repetitive, even writing a character with anxiety doesn't mean we have to repeat the same things over and over and over ad nauseum; I found myself skimming a lot. The end just opened up a whole huge can of worms for the second book. I can't really recommend this outside of the niche group I specified. I did finish it though so that was something, hence the 2* rating.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I wanted to love this book. I mean, look at that cover. Who wouldn't want to love the story behind it? Unfortunately, I'm sad to say that this book wasn't for me. I felt like I was putting too much effort into reading it and I wanted to dnf it many times. While this book has a really nice premise, it failed to transport me. This book follows a girl living under the threat of being executed any day or turning into some kind of zombie like her dad. There's been an alien invasion on Earth trying to I wanted to love this book. I mean, look at that cover. Who wouldn't want to love the story behind it? Unfortunately, I'm sad to say that this book wasn't for me. I felt like I was putting too much effort into reading it and I wanted to dnf it many times. While this book has a really nice premise, it failed to transport me. This book follows a girl living under the threat of being executed any day or turning into some kind of zombie like her dad. There's been an alien invasion on Earth trying to suppress any human expression including books and music. If they find out about her hidden collection, she'll die. That's when an alien who likes human music meets her and ask her for some more. That's how the story begin. I loved the first chapter but after that it went downhill and I just didn't care for the characters or the alien "M0Rr1S". The alien names spelled that way all the time didn't help either. My experience reading this wasn't smooth. I didn't believe or care for the romance and it didn't make me feel anything. The ending didn't really make sense to me. I'm sorry to say that this was a bit of a disappointment. (Thank you to the publisher for letting me read and review an ARC via Netgalley)

  14. 5 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    I had tears streaming down my face after finishing this. What a beautiful, beautiful book. So immense, so full of life and love and all the goodness in the world. This was not at all what I expected, and thank goodness for that. - In a world where aliens have invaded Earth and have prohibited all forms of art, this book follows Ellie, a Black teen who runs a secret library, and M0R1s, an alien (named the Ilori) who, was raised to be emotionless, loves music. When her love for books and his love f I had tears streaming down my face after finishing this. What a beautiful, beautiful book. So immense, so full of life and love and all the goodness in the world. This was not at all what I expected, and thank goodness for that. - In a world where aliens have invaded Earth and have prohibited all forms of art, this book follows Ellie, a Black teen who runs a secret library, and M0R1s, an alien (named the Ilori) who, was raised to be emotionless, loves music. When her love for books and his love for music bring them together, they set off on a roadtrip to save the world. - You know, you can read what this book is about, but you will not be prepared by how... profound this book is. Dow writes with such incredible emotional depth, that is so resonant and hopeful. - I really don't have the words to describe how this book made me feel. But it reminded me a lot of how I felt after I watched Interstellar, which I loved. - Ellie is demisexual and the romance in this was stunning. I often struggle to connect to romances that don't have emotional depth, so the fact that Ellie is demi and develops a romance that has such a strong and meaningful bond -- I loved it. - I JUST LOVED THIS. I need a full review to explain the feelings I have for this. I just don't have the words to describe how much I loved this. An effortless favourite of 2020. Trigger/content warning: (view spoiler)[death/murder (public execution), anxiety attacks, colonisation/imperialism themes (hide spoiler)]

  15. 4 out of 5

    AJ

    I'm going to be honest here - I had very high expectations for this book. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and it absolutely surpassed all of my expectations in a big way. Which rarely happens! There were so many things I loved about this book. For starters, the two main characters were very easy to root for. Especially Ellie, who is a black teen trying to survive in Ilori-occupied earth, with her main source of comfort being the illegal books she's keeping. Ellie's insecurities, h I'm going to be honest here - I had very high expectations for this book. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and it absolutely surpassed all of my expectations in a big way. Which rarely happens! There were so many things I loved about this book. For starters, the two main characters were very easy to root for. Especially Ellie, who is a black teen trying to survive in Ilori-occupied earth, with her main source of comfort being the illegal books she's keeping. Ellie's insecurities, her love of stories and ability to find solace in them when the world is literally doomed, her understanding of the world and how she fits into it as a black teen are not only easy to relate to, but also make her a really palpable character that jumps off of the page. Morris' optimism, hopeless romanticism, and love of music and stories also make him very easy to warm to - despite him being an Ilori. The two of them also just work really well together as characters. They're the perfect pair, in a lot of ways. I'm not the biggest fan of sci-fi, but I know that a lot of science-fiction books recreate stories of colonisation in space settings, kind of like has been done here. What I know from reading some of them is they often have very black and white understanding of colonisation, and this is what was such a breath of fresh air for me in The Sound Of Stars. The author clearly really understands power dynamics, race, colonisation...and she deftly navigates the relationship between Ellie and Morris - despite the clear disparity in their power dynamics as human and Ilori with one of them the colonised and one of them the coloniser. She never shies away from engaging with the realities of a relationship like this. Nor does the book ever pretend that this is a clear divide between human vs. Ilori. It's a deeply nuanced book that just feels very real. It's clear from reading that Dow really understands the space within which she is writing, and effortlessly weaves in the realities of our real world into her Ilori-occupied one. She also engages with many tropes and genre expectations before subverting or unpacking them. From reading a few other reviews, it seems some people were disappointed with how the book ended. For me, the ending of this was nothing less than perfection. If this hadn't already been a 5-star book before the ending, that end would have definitely pushed it into 5-stars. Because...about halfway through I had some idea about how this book might end, but what ended up happening was not at all what I expected. But it was really brilliantly foreshadowed, and easy to see the hints the author dropped along the way after you get to the end. It's the kind of ending that is both open-ended but also ties up so many loose ends. There could easily be a sequel to this book, and also...not. And either way, I would feel satisfied.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amber (The Book Bratz)

    The full review + more can be found at The Book Bratz Aliens. Books. Dystopian NYC. This book screams my name, so it is no shock this this is one of my most anticipated reads and debuts of 2020 (Though I got to read it last week!) The Sound of Stars did not disappoint for one second and kept me wanting and needing to know what was going to happen next. Can we take a moment to admire how beautiful the cover for this novel is?! The art and the colors blend beautifully and I absolutely adore it, th The full review + more can be found at The Book Bratz Aliens. Books. Dystopian NYC. This book screams my name, so it is no shock this this is one of my most anticipated reads and debuts of 2020 (Though I got to read it last week!) The Sound of Stars did not disappoint for one second and kept me wanting and needing to know what was going to happen next. Can we take a moment to admire how beautiful the cover for this novel is?! The art and the colors blend beautifully and I absolutely adore it, the ARC is stunning but I can't wait to see finished copies of this beauty. Alechia is a debut author and for her first novel, The Sound of Stars is magnificent. The world building, characters and plot bring this story a live in front of the reader. I can't wait for every one else to meet Ellie and M0Rr1S! I loved every moment of this post apocalyptic road trip to save humanity and literature and music and I can't wait to see what the sequel will hold. (There will be a sequel, right? *insert puppy dog eyes here*)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    3.75* On the surface, this is a fun, classic sci-fi. As its heart, it's a brilliant exploration of colonisation, systematic racism and the power of art (whilst also being a super fun read that plays on many classic sci-fi tropes). I loved Janelle, one of the main characters, who is a demisexual biromantic fat Black teen living with anxiety. She was an unsure, strong and real teen who fights back with the kind of quiet acts of rebellion that can change the world. Her passion for literature and th 3.75* On the surface, this is a fun, classic sci-fi. As its heart, it's a brilliant exploration of colonisation, systematic racism and the power of art (whilst also being a super fun read that plays on many classic sci-fi tropes). I loved Janelle, one of the main characters, who is a demisexual biromantic fat Black teen living with anxiety. She was an unsure, strong and real teen who fights back with the kind of quiet acts of rebellion that can change the world. Her passion for literature and the reasonings behind her creating her illegal library was so wonderful to read and I loved watching her slowly allow herself to embrace the parts of herself that the world told her to hide. Morris, an Ilori and our other main character, was basically a dorky, pure af alien cinnamon roll. While his heartfelt proclamations did make me cringe at times, I couldn't help but admire him for speaking his mind and wearing his heart on his sleeve. After years of being told to squash his emotions (of which he had a lot of) I loved that he basically went 'screw it' and held nothing back. I really appreciated how this replicated how society unfairly expects men to bottle everything inside, as showing their emotions is far too often perceived as a weakness. I also adored the fact that this was a YA book acknowledging the power of YA. It references multiple current YA books including The Hate U Give and When Dimple Met Rishi and, honestly? I think it's the first YA book I've ever come across to do so and it felt weirdly affirming. The way this book portrayed the power books and music have, no matter who you are or where you come from, was so wonderful to read. I'm still in two minds about the ending and I have a feeling it's going to divide a lot of people but I think I'm kind of warming to it? It gave me enough closure to feel satisfying but also left me totally okay with getting another book (especially if said book gives the Andarrans their time to shine.) Overall, this was a powerful and thought provoking read that brilliantly reflects the flaws in our society, whilst also shining a light on the power art, specifically books and music, has in bringing us together. Whilst I'm not giving it a full 4 starts due to finding the plot a little confusing at times (might just me my fault, thanks isolation brain) I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to anyone looking for a unique and timely YA sci-fi. TW: anxiety, racism, panic attacks, colonisation

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vicky Again

    much more hopeful than I expected~

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

    A pop music obsessed alien + a girl who has a secret library = epic sci-fi adventure just made for me I think I'm in love. A pop music obsessed alien + a girl who has a secret library = epic sci-fi adventure just made for me I think I'm in love.

  20. 4 out of 5

    J. Elle

    Oh, where do I start? This is one of the best books I've read all year. I am not a big Sci-Fi reader but I loved the premise so much and the COVER (OMG!) so I had to give it a try. And ohhhh myyyy wooord. The prologue alone had me enthralled. From the clever use of structure to the DEEP characterization of the two main characters to the heartwarming way their belief systems shift as the novel progresses--I was HOOKED. If you love character-driven stories with plot twists, TSOS is for you. I rarel Oh, where do I start? This is one of the best books I've read all year. I am not a big Sci-Fi reader but I loved the premise so much and the COVER (OMG!) so I had to give it a try. And ohhhh myyyy wooord. The prologue alone had me enthralled. From the clever use of structure to the DEEP characterization of the two main characters to the heartwarming way their belief systems shift as the novel progresses--I was HOOKED. If you love character-driven stories with plot twists, TSOS is for you. I rarely find such richly deep characters that suck me in so quickly. I could not put this book down and when I was forced to, it's all I thought about while away from it. The alien character, in particular, captivated me from the very early pages. The dilemmas he faced, the ways he grapples with being ostracized, and the lessons that come out of it really impacted me. Personally I identified more with Ellie and the lens with which she'd grown to see the world. Her bravery to be who she is on the inside, on the outside while tearing down emotional barriers she'd built really resonated with me. Both of the main characters are so believable and the dilemmas they face, so palpable. And one of the antagonists was so well written, I literally GROWLED at the page anytime they appeared. Ha ha! A nod to the author's talent for writing such REAL characters. This is a book you MUST read. The author has also woven in such timely and important social commentary, a variety of LGBTQIA rep, much needed mental and physical health rep. As a fellow writer, I marvel at the author's talent. This book has nestled its way inside me and I don't ever want it to leave. <3

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jazmen

    The Sound of Stars took me through a plethora of emotions, most of which always seemed outside my grasp. Janelle Baker is a human with an inordinate passion for books. But the world has been taken over by the Illori, a non-human life force. Under their dominion, books are forbidden, as well as anything remotely artistic. Possession of these items resulted in infractions that ultimately led to death. Morris is a lab-made Illori, a disgrace to his family because of his ability to feel, and his love The Sound of Stars took me through a plethora of emotions, most of which always seemed outside my grasp. Janelle Baker is a human with an inordinate passion for books. But the world has been taken over by the Illori, a non-human life force. Under their dominion, books are forbidden, as well as anything remotely artistic. Possession of these items resulted in infractions that ultimately led to death. Morris is a lab-made Illori, a disgrace to his family because of his ability to feel, and his love of music. Janelle and Morris have similar missions, but it takes a missing book to bring their worlds crashing together. Together, Janelle and Morris are the perfect story and the sweetest song. Without being unnecessarily verbose, I rather enjoyed this book. The world-building is chef's kiss. It's fleshed out and well-written. The reader will understand the world they're being presented, and just as easily able to decipher how it all works. Besides the world-building, the musical and literary elements parsed throughout the story were heart-warming and engaging. As a reader, the purpose behind the lyrics and songs might seem unclear initially. Once it's explained, it adds another layer of enjoyment to the story. It showed the dedication of the author to tell an authentic story. The one thing that I could note as a negative, and it feels weird to say, are some moments where the MC, Janelle, pointed out the discrimination against Black people from the "previous" world. In a lot of the instances, it helped to build on the backstory of the heroine. In others, it seemed a rant that didn't ground itself into the story the way they intended it. As a Black woman, this is not something I want to note as a negative, or a dislike, but it's worth noting for this review. Racism is a tough thing to experience, let alone dictate, but Dow does a fairly good job of balancing it mostly. There is romance in the book, and though I wouldn't note this book as wholly romance, the love that eventually blooms propel the story in new directions. It also later defines the character's growth and the overall plot. As a whole, it is a great YA that kept me completely enthralled from beginning to end. It's an outstanding debut and one I would recommend. I didn't see anywhere that this would be a series, but the ending left a lot of questions begging to be answered. So, I hope there's more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sol ~ TheBookishKing

    didnt hate it, definitely didnt love it, going to take me a few to gather my full thoughts ~ rtc.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    So many feelings, y'all. So many.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 4.5* You ever high key wonder how you'd react in an apocalyptic situation? I do, constantly. Which probably explains why I adore this type of book so much. But sometimes I can't quite relate to the hero of the tale because excuse me, am I heroic? Well, Ellie makes surviving the apocalypse seem relatable. First of all, our girl is hoarding books. Who among us can't relate to that?! Plus, s You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 4.5* You ever high key wonder how you'd react in an apocalyptic situation? I do, constantly. Which probably explains why I adore this type of book so much. But sometimes I can't quite relate to the hero of the tale because excuse me, am I heroic? Well, Ellie makes surviving the apocalypse seem relatable. First of all, our girl is hoarding books. Who among us can't relate to that?! Plus, she's been without her anxiety and hypothyroid medication, which again is something a great many of us can relate to. What happens if the aliens invade and you're suddenly without health (mental and physical) care? I love that the author addresses this (and not just in passing- she does a wonderful job of making Ellie's health a legitimate concern throughout). Ellie basically has had enough of kowtowing to the aliens. She figures, she's going to die, might as well die being true to herself. And, she's going to help others in the only way she knows how- providing them stories, escapes. Her father is all but lost to her, and her mother is more absent every day, and Ellie knows she has to make choices for herself now- even though she and her parents love each other immensely, it seems like the aliens have taken even her beloved family away. And while I don't want to give much away about the aliens and what happens (obviously), I do want to mention that it's incredibly interesting to see both the human (Ellie) and the alien (M0Rr1S) learning more about the other. Clearly, each has preconceived ideas about the other, but that will change as they get to know each other better. The aliens aren't all evil just as the humans are not disposable. And that's all I will say, because you really ought to undertake this incredible journey for yourselves. Bottom Line: Can you actually believe that the insides of this book are as awesome as the cover implies? Impressive, right? I adored this book, full of characters I fell in love with and a super exciting and thought-provoking story that gripped me from the start.

  25. 5 out of 5

    NAT.orious reads ☽

    My goodness, the cover! I can't even. My goodness, the cover! I can't even.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

    ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. DNF at 26% I am so, so sad I'm dnf-ing this one, but I felt like I was wasting my time reading a story I realized I wasn't enjoying. I love the concept of this and the author is clearly talented, but there was something about the story that I couldn't connect to. I don't know what it was but we just didn't click. There were so many good, unique aspects here!! I'm typically a sucker for anything including discussions ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. DNF at 26% I am so, so sad I'm dnf-ing this one, but I felt like I was wasting my time reading a story I realized I wasn't enjoying. I love the concept of this and the author is clearly talented, but there was something about the story that I couldn't connect to. I don't know what it was but we just didn't click. There were so many good, unique aspects here!! I'm typically a sucker for anything including discussions about humanity/morality and the justification behind our decisions. Make it basically a love letter to art and it seemed like a recipe for my perfect book. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. I could tell I wasn't fond of the direction the story was taking, nor the developing romance. Perhaps this would have changed had I read further, but as I wasn't connecting to the story itself, I highly doubt it. I would recommend this to people that love books with pop-culture references galore and diverse stories with fierce protagonists. There is so much wonderful potential for this story and I'm truly sad I don't feel differently about it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anniek

    Bring back YA sci-fi challenge 2020! I know, I know, there is some sci-fi out there, but it's not a lot, and this book made me realize once again how sad that is. It reminded me of the "golden age" of YA dystopian in the best way possible, and of course the best part is that this book is actually diverse. I love how much this book dealt with people's need for art and expression, especially in desperate times. CWs: colonization, execution, violence, blood, alcoholism

  28. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Thank you to NetGalley, Alechia Dow, and Harlequin TEEN for the opportunity to read The Sound of Stars in exchange for an honest review. An alien race called the Ilori have invaded Earth. After a miscommunication between Earth and Ilori leaders, one-third of the human population has been terminated. Two years later, the Ilori rule ruthlessly, executing anyone who doesn't follow the rules, just to make a show of their seriousness of the predicament and to keep the humans from potentially rebelling Thank you to NetGalley, Alechia Dow, and Harlequin TEEN for the opportunity to read The Sound of Stars in exchange for an honest review. An alien race called the Ilori have invaded Earth. After a miscommunication between Earth and Ilori leaders, one-third of the human population has been terminated. Two years later, the Ilori rule ruthlessly, executing anyone who doesn't follow the rules, just to make a show of their seriousness of the predicament and to keep the humans from potentially rebelling. All forms of art have been banned, including books and music, because apparently, books might harbor the secrets to building weapons that may vanquish the Ilori. Realistically, books and music trigger feelings in people, and that is something the Ilori do not want to happen. Ellie loves books. She has about sixty books of various genres that she keeps hidden under a blanket on a mattress on the floor in a basement storage unit in her apartment building. If the Ilori find out, they will hang her. Not only are the books important to her, but if she can get enough information on the people around her, she will lend them out so that people can find some pleasure in this post-alien invasion life. MoRr1S (Morris) is a labmade Ilori, a non-natural born of his species, a lesser, looked-down upon version. Even though it is against the rules, he loves music.  When the Ilori invaded, all art was destroyed...well, except the books and music, among other art forms, that were hidden by people (like Ellie's books). So there is still music out there, but it is hard to come by. When MoRr1S finds Ellie's book stash, he picks up a copy of The Hate U Give (by Angie Thomas) and ends up choosing to read it, opening up a whole new world of wonder for the labmade Ilori. While the missing book has Ellie on edge, MoRr1S has every intention of communicating with her. He finds her interesting, and a potential source for getting more music. When Ellie is found out and close to execution, MoRr1S saves her and they embark on their own strange journey together, for both are immersed in a situation that will end in their deaths, if either of them is ever caught.  Predictably, this is a Romeo and Juliet type of story, as MoRr1s falls for everything about Ellie, and despite Ellie's grudge against Ilori, cannot help but falling for MoR1S in return. As they discover what feeling love actually means, Ellie must come to terms with MoR1S's fiance, 0rsa, a non-feeling, cold-towards-humans Ilori. Along their adventure, the two listen to a band called The Starry Eyed, of which on of their songs is called "The Sound of Stars." The lyrics have meaning to the characters as well as the book title, so there are some interesting connections to make there. Overall, a story that I really enjoyed. It seemed generic, but interesting enough to feel different. The one thing that throws me is the ending. I enjoyed the ending and feel like this can definitely be a stand-alone novel, but there seems to be a possibility of a second one. Regardless, I like to see this as a stand-alone, even if it didn't end quite how I would have liked for a stand-alone novel, though the end left some solidity and positivity with enough for me to have a feeling of what happens next without having to read what happens next. A quick, fun, immersive read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Yolanda

    *Review will be posted on my blog closer to publication on 2/18/19* *3.5 Stars* Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC. The Sound of Stars is a very interesting mesh of the sci-fi, dystopian and romance it’s infused with love of music, books and the love of love really. It explores so many subjects like race, and colonization plus it has aliens! There is a lot going on in this surprising book. Janelle or Ellie, as everyone calls her, lives in New York City *Review will be posted on my blog closer to publication on 2/18/19* *3.5 Stars* Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC. The Sound of Stars is a very interesting mesh of the sci-fi, dystopian and romance it’s infused with love of music, books and the love of love really. It explores so many subjects like race, and colonization plus it has aliens! There is a lot going on in this surprising book. Janelle or Ellie, as everyone calls her, lives in New York City but the world has been taken over by aliens called the Ilori and their labmades. Say what? Yes, Earth’s problems have become insignificant with this way bigger threat taking over. Humans have been killed and are now undergoing a process where they will be given vaccines and their bodies will be husks. The Illori will be able to inhabit these husks to vacation on Earth. Yes…Earth is basically being colonized by these powerful aliens who have been colonizing planets all around the universe. Ellie is just a teenager, who keeps a secret library. If she is found out by the Ilori it would mean a death sentence. But she meets an Illori, a labmade commander named M0Rr1S, or Morris, who wants to trade. He will keep her secret if she can get him some other kind of contraband – music. This story is a journey of books, music, love and watching two different species find common ground. What I Liked: *Love for books and music is at the heart of this book. It reminds us that no matter what’s going on, how as people we can be divided or conquered, the written word in story form or music form transcends hate and can bring people or in this case species together. *I was intrigued about this alien race, the Ilori, and their labmades. This story lays out some of the problems on Earth from climate change, to race relations and the corrupt government (hmmm sounds very familiar!). But with the Ilori invasion (which didn’t start out as one really), the humans have pretty much united to fight the aliens. Learning that the Ilori have been colonizing planets for awhile made me want to learn more about their alien race and these planets that they have found in the universe. *Labmades are an interesting part of the Ilori. They aren’t true Ilori, they were basically, made in a lab. So in their society, they are looked down upon. So Ellie being black and Morris being a labmade shared the feelings of being inadequate and “less than” everyone else. *It’s a unique story all around with the romance between a human and labmade. The way the story unfolded reminded me almost of a space opera (though they are not in space) – but Ellie and Morris travel throughout America to get to their destination and it feels like this epic space journey…but on land. If that makes sense? Things That Made Me Go Hmm: *The romance at first for me…was totally cute. A labmade and human relationship? I was totally for it! And I think a lot of people will find it an amazing part of the story, but at the end it was getting a bit cheesy for me. 🤣 But that’s just totally a “it’s me” thing…Ellie and Morris totally fell for each other and I swear it started to become some space opera musical (yes with singing involved). *The first few pages was hard for me to connect to because it’s sci-fi (not my favorite genre) with a lot of technical jargon that just left me scratching my head. I just needed to be patient, because soon I was 40% done with the book without knowing I was reading that fast. I loved learning about this Earth as aliens take over and their plans for humans. The story kinda lost me again 75% in and maybe because of the romance and cheesy/cuteness. *I don’t know that I connected to a character most…maybe Morris because I was fascinated with his life as a labmade. Final Thoughts: Even though it was sci-fi and dystopian, it had lots of romance and optimism because of the love between Morris and Ellie. They are seriously the sweetest couple. The world-building of the Ilori and Earth after an invasion felt realistic and I wanted to know more about the aliens! There is so much going on in this story. There is adventure, deception, humans on the brink of being hosts to aliens, Earth being made into a vacation destination, music, books and love. For me, The Sound of Stars was a very unexpected yet fun story to read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cindee

    I really loved this book it has been awhile since I read an alien romance this one was completely unique I have never read a book quite like this one. I loved the characters so very much especially Ellie and Morris I liked their gradual understanding and romance. I liked the pacing of the romance between them it did not start up right away first Ellie had to be able to trust Morris this took time though after the things they went through together I can't think of a stronger love than the one bet I really loved this book it has been awhile since I read an alien romance this one was completely unique I have never read a book quite like this one. I loved the characters so very much especially Ellie and Morris I liked their gradual understanding and romance. I liked the pacing of the romance between them it did not start up right away first Ellie had to be able to trust Morris this took time though after the things they went through together I can't think of a stronger love than the one between the two main characters. I loved Ellie for her want to keep art alive by having a secret library to do just that this is how our two main characters are able to connect I really loved her character so much. What I really loved about Morris was he love of music his curiosity of many things and his want to save the people of Earth and to free his own people and his all consuming love for Ellie. I really loved the plot of this book I loved how it incorporated books and music into the story as the driving force of the plot. So overall I really loved this book and I really want more hopefully there will at least be some companion novels for this sometime in the future.

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