Review

Digging in the Stars 13+

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Author: Katherine Blakeney

Publisher: Blaze Publishing

Publishing Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945519-07-9

This novel was sent to me by Blaze Publishing in exchange for an honest and objective review.

Summary: 

Conrad has gone missing, leaving Carter feeling hopelessly responsible. The last things she had said to him had been out of anger, and in fear that he’d responded in an irresponsible and emotional state, she believes she has caused his disappearance.

When her guilt becomes too much to withstand and the fear for Conrad’s life consumes her Carter arranges a trip to Tho – the last place he was scene – kidnapping her whole Archaeology of Space class under the guile that they are headed elsewhere.  With little more than a broken vintage camera, and what was left in his bag, when Carter discovers images that tie Conrad’s disappearance to the long lost tomb of the last king of Thror.

Upon arriving in Thror it is discovered that the planet has been overtaken by “Furry Giants” who are more interested in flirting and selling souvenirs than they are in answering any of Carter’s questions. As the story unfolds and Carter finds evidence of a huge archaeological find, her class begins to follow the trails left for them in hopes of finding Loreval’s resting place. As they dig deeper into the stars will they find Thror to be the ecstasy of tourism it paints itself to be, or does Thror have a darker underbelly?

Pros and Cons:

I really loved that this novel followed Archaeology, and in a Sci-Fi, I loved that Katherine took it to its rudimentary form, versus hyper-focusing on possible technological advances in the future. As I am someone who isn’t scientifically inclined, I did find it hard to follow this novel at times, but only in small ways. I was able to stay on the heels of the plot but if I looked too closely at the slower parts of the plots (the digs) I found myself easily bored. I also struggled with the names used for some of the characters. I found myself skipping over a few names as they acted as a speed bump in my otherwise smooth journey of reading.

It was really interesting to follow the imagery Katherine created for the world of Thror, in that it was a major tourist attraction. As a Floridian, I know what tourist traps look like, and she depicts them colorfully and even slightly overexaggerated, which is what makes them fun to read. With men who were eager for the attention of women, the constant reference to their attempts to make women “hot and steamy” I felt as grossed out and violated as the characters did in this book. It created a very tangible environment and had me cringing through most experiences – which was the point.

Another thing I really loved about this book was its underlying feminism. At times I wished that Katherine had created some diversity in the characters of the class (as all 7 are females) but as I dove deeper into the novel I realized that the testosterone provided by the Furry Giants (who greatly reminded me of a perverted version of “Wild Things”) was all I could handle. She did, however, create diversity in the girls’ personalities, which was made it easier to follow characters without their names being used all of the time. We’ll talk about that more in “Characters,” though.

Lastly, I did feel at times that the plot was long winded and slow – but then again, archaeological digs aren’t supposed to be quick and racy. They are supposed to be scrupulous and detailed. I was able to push through the novel without much resistance, but be warned there are dry parts that may slow your reading pace.

Characters:

With a team of 6 girls, I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to follow all of the characters as thoroughly as I usually do, however, each one fits into a unique and memorable stereotype so it wasn’t difficult at all. For our main characters we had: Professor P, your militaristic and hot-tempered teacher, Carter, your know-it-all, teacher’s pet, Gioconda, your spiritual guru, Allison, Your tech-savvy, highly emotional, pink-loving plastic, Lizzie, your emotionally wounded rich bully, and lastly Bryanne, your small-town farm girl who is timid and fragile. If I went into each character beyond the basic stereotype we’d be here forever, so I’ll only address my two favorites and my one least favorite.

My favorite character of all was Professor P because she reminds me so much of my Mom. She’s this kick-ass teacher who has a “NO BS” way about her. They talked often about her “look” that could “make anyone mute,” and though plenty of Mom’s have this trait, my mom has it down to a science. Professor P is also very loud and has super detailed and witty ways of attacking someone when they upset her or let her down (like bad service, or an inability to communicate effectively and clearly.) My Mom has a very similar demeanor so Professor P was just so close to my heart and very funny. Don’t get me wrong, she isn’t all mean! The other reason I loved her and was reminded of my mom was her sense of adventure and her love and dedication to her students. She may not have always been particularly affectionate but in her heart, she loved them and protected them like they were her own children.

I also really liked Carter! Having graduated 2 years early, and having JUST turned 16-years-old, she had her goals aimed high. Sure, she was emotionally unstable at times and highly impulsive but what 16-year-old isn’t? I mean, she literally took University funds for a MONTH’s worth of transportation, shelter, and food for SIX people and spent it on her nagging need to find her friend. She was easily a leader by nature, but she also sucked at comforting people which made her feel awkward when her morality couldn’t let her ignore someone’s pain. With parents who aren’t particularly affectionate, and are very stoic she’s left to feel like she really is facing the world alone. Now, it isn’t because her parents hate her that she’s alone, it’s because they trust her emphatically and treat her like an adult.

Oddly enough, the character that I disliked in this novel was one that I usually find myself drawn to. Bryanne is excruciatingly weak. Though she can have outbursts when pushed by anger or fear, she’s mostly made up of this glass snowglobe that’s got a nasty leak. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not heartless. I recognize she’s a small-town farm girl from another country who has been shoved into the Big Apple. Yes, that’s completely scary. As someone who’s just now starting college (which is essentially as big of a jump for me seeing how I know no one nearby because I was homeschooled and my cohort class graduated in 2015) I’ve had my fair share of fear and tear shedding – but what I don’t get is why Bryanne has to break from EVERY. LITTLE. THING. It’s like existing terrifies her, which just really gets under my skin.

Conclusion:

I gave this Coming-of-Age Sci-Fi focused on friendship and self-discovery a 3.5-star rating. The book in and of itself is good, and I don’t really have much to say about it. It wasn’t bad, but it also didn’t rock my world. As I stated above it was long-winded at times, but that could easily be ruled away by personal preference. If you are a Sci-Fi lover and found yourself loving “Wild Things” then I would highly suggest you check out this novel. I suggest it for the age of 13+ for the touristy innuendos and the description of death and war. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this novel.

A BIG thank you to Blaze Publishing for providing me with this novel in exchange for an honest and objective review.

Favorite Quotes:

“Excellent. Carter’s the natural choice; she’s the smallest and is admirably devoid of phobias.” – Professor P

“But, Professor, we don’t know what’s back there.”

“Thank you Bryanne for defining the purpose of Archaeology for the rest of the group. If we knew exactly what we would find, we would gain little scholarly advantage in searching for it.” – Bryanne and Professor P

“Every challenge has a solution. The scientific mind is always open and flexible, ready to accept the unconventional.” – Carter’s Parents

“What does this story teach us? Make sure you have someone who wants you?”

“Goodness no!” snorted Professor P, “Become a professional and learn to take care of yourself.” – Allison and Professor P

 

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