Published by Albert Whitman & Company on September 4, 2018
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction, Romance
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Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cocha is a seventeen-year-old girl.
A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.
Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?
In this exhilarating edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure—perfect for fans of The Lunar Chronicles—debut author Maura Milan introduces our world to a thrilling new heroine.
How do I even begin describing this book? Ignite the Stars was grandiose, adventurous, and triumphant. It’s a science fiction that follows the journey of Ia Cocha, a daredevil rebel who’s escaped the clutches of the Olympus Commonwealth more than once. But when she’s finally captured, at the beginning of the book, everyone is surprised to see that she’s a young girl. To increase nationalism and use her as propaganda fodder, the Commonwealth enlists them in their top military academy, the Royal Star Fleet. What they don’t know, however, is that she’s just biding her time for escape, and then she’ll wreck vengeance at all.
… Except vengeance doesn’t come easily. Especially when she starts developing feelings towards many of her peers and classmates. Feelings of compassion, empathy, and respect. This makes for a very morally grey situation where Ia (pronounced eye-ah) asks herself – is all she’s doing really worth it?
If she was going down, she was going to do it one way and one way alone.
I absolutely adore Ia with a fierce passion. Her name is one sound away from mine, and she’s just so smug and confident about her abilities. One of my favorite tropes, I think, is seeing these super confident characters taken down a notch and learning humility and compassion, which is exactly what happens in this book. Despite being caught by the Commonwealth, Ia doesn’t let that stop her. She’s ferocious when she has her mind on something, and that leads straight to the antagonist’s plans. She learns from her mistakes though, and despite her arrogance, takes the step to apologize for her actions when warranted. I just love how her character was explored and developed, and I can’t wait to read more of her in the sequel.
She’s go along with being a cadet for now, until they’d all forgotten about the Blood Wolf within their ranks. Once their defenses were down, only then would she flash her teeth.
The book also falls the POV’s of two other characters: Brinn and Knives. Both are also super flawed and developed characters that I grew to really appreciate. Brinn was a tough sell at first. She is super loyal to the Commonwealth – almost to an annoying extent. She’s also Tawny, which is a species with blue hair that is known for being refugees on the Commonwealth – refugees that people are petitioning to kick out. She hides her heritage out of self-hate and fear, which does her no good. But throughout the book, she starts to embrace the Tawny side of her and learns some self-love, as well as grows a backbone.
Knives was a bit more of a predictable character, BUT I LOVED HIM ALL THE MORE FOR IT. Seriously, this boy. Will charm you so much. Despite being super talented and smart (having an eidetic memory, which I am very jealous of), he is very ambivalent about the Commonwealth’s causes and doesn’t share the same nationalism as many other cadets do. This makes him a conflicted character, and he’s put into more turmoil with the introduction of Ia arriving at the academy. Is she to be trusted, or can a wolf not change its ways? And why is he so attracted to her despite her ferociousness? All valid questions to ask while they have a slow hate-to-attraction relationship. Oh, and his father is the commanding officer that caught Ia to be held captive too. THE PLOT THICKENS.
She was a dark star, a black hole in the endless sky, and if he got too close, he would surely disappear.
IGNITE THE STARS was such a stunning debut, and the insides match the gorgeous cover. (Also, can we talk about how gorgeous the POC model is on the cover?! Absolutely stunning.) I highly recommend this for science fiction readers. It’s honestly so refreshing after reading about all these government rebellions. In this one, the government might… actually have a point? Something that I will let other readers dwell on (or some to me after reading to discuss!). There is a pretty meaningful cliffhanger at the end, but overall the main conflict is resolved with some nice twists to come. Definitely be on the lookout for this one, readers!
They’d always been the bad guys to her. But now that the smoke and dust of battle was gone, she was starting to see that they had suffered too.
Also, Ia is my new crush. I love her to bits and just want to best for her!!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Content/Trigger Warnings: physical abuse, mention of suicide, colonization, heavy violence
Thank you Albert Whitman & Company for the review copy!