Title: Under Different Stars (Kricket #1)
Author: Amy A. Bartol
Genre: YA Dystopian
All she wants is a home, but can she find one…UNDER DIFFERENT STARS
Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home.
Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go.
Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket’s gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own.
When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?
**I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review, that did not influence the content below in any way**
So before I get started with what is sure to be an intricate review I just wanted to say….
I can’t believe that just a year and a half ago I was hardcore fangirling all over Amy Bartol’s Facebook page and website after having read the first three Premonition books. I remember gushing over how much I loved the Premonition series and that I absolutely needed to know when the next book was coming out! I would then go on to flipping out over the fact that she actually responded to my comments (this was back when I was the new naive ereader and the thought of creating a book blog had yet to even occur to me). I just remember feeling so honored that she would take the time to respond to my thoughts in such an enthusiastic way. I’ll never forget her calling me a “goddess” for saying that I thought Incendiary (Premonition #4) ended so abruptly, because she was nervous it would be thought of as too long. I was so happy reading that response, because great books are never too long. Needless to say, I had no idea how to make my way around the social media world of authors back then. But then again, I still fangirl on author’s pages soo… Anyway, now I’m blown away by the fact that less than two years later, here I am, reading an ARC of Amy Bartol’s new series and participating in a blog tour for her latest book! Never in my life would I have imagined that I would be able to say that about one of my favorite authors ever!
Alright…tangent over…ON WITH THE REVIEW!!
Amy Bartol is at again, Under Different Stars has just as much to bring to the table as The Premonition series does, and has so much potential to turn into a fantastic series! Though this first book was largely a build up novel, it was not without its fair share of action and suspense..and did I mention the romance? (Trey *swoon*)
The Setting: Under Different Stars is unique in the fact that it consists of an entire new world known as Ethar! There are new places and animals to see, and a door to Ethar’s history is just waiting to be unlocked. With a new world, comes new words and that means they have different meanings. I commend Amy Bartol for summoning up an entirely made up vocabulary, and though it is hard to keep track of at times during the story, it adds depth to the reality of this fictional world (an oxymoron at it’s finest 😉 ). Just as in the Eragon series, without the different dialects used throughout the books, the world that was created would not have seemed as real. Not to mention, the words and their uses Amy creates are pretty fascinating and add humor to story. Bartol definitely put a lot of thought into the creation of Ethar, and it comes out in her work.
The Lead: Kricket’s world gets turned entirely upside down when she discovers she is not who she thought is. She has to adapt quickly to her new situation and surroundings, and overcome obstacles that surge toward her from every direction. That includes: navigating another dimension, battling politicians, and dealing with some ridiculous sexism! On top of that, Kricket is changing in ways that she never would have imagined, which makes her extremely dangerous and extremely valuable. But does she break down when things get rough? Hell No! Kricket remains one tough chick throughout, in fact she ends up saving the boys (Trey included) on more than one occasion. That is one of the many things that I love about Amy Bartol, she creates the best, most badass female leads, ones that are fearless and don’t take no for an answer. Kricket definitely carried the story and faced each conflict with confidence and power, she proves that if you want change, you have to get up and make it happen and not rely on a man to do it for you!
The Action:Threats come from around ever corner in Under Different Stars, just when you think the story is slowing down, some new development occurs that spirals the conflict further. There is a new enemy lurking behind every closed door, some are very unsuspecting, while others just left me conflicted as to whose side they were on. Kyon for example, leaves the reader questioning their allegiance but determined to remain Team Trey. This book is also not without it’s share of gore, there are definitely some bloody scenes that leave you reeling and enthralled by the events.
The Romance: Just as in The Premonition series, there are many suitors that pine after Kricket throughout the book (pff..lucky). Some of these suitors I flat out wanted to kill, others I was interested to see the outcome with *cough cough KYON*(though he kinda makes the kill list too). And of course, there is one that shines above the rest: Trey! Lets just say Trey and Kricket’s relationship is anything but typical, and yes it does start out a little rough, but that just makes it all the more endearing to read! No relationship begins harmoniously right off the bat, and if there is no struggle between the two characters, then there is little to rejoice in when the two finally admit their feelings (in my personal opinion). Fortunately, Bartol does not waste too much time on the romantic conflict between the two, in fact their relationship moves forward beautifully, even if it is constantly in danger of being torn apart, but that’s what makes the story so intense. And there’s nothing like a protective alpha male lead to get your heart pumping. Trey is definitely a worthy match for Kricket, their dynamic could not be more perfect and adorable to watch evolve.
Overall Thoughts: I would definitely recommend reading Under Different Stars; if you’re looking for a story filled with: ingenuity, action, suspense, beautiful romance and an intricate plot, this is the one to choose. The book ends not with a cliff hanger exactly, but enough to leave you eager and super excited to see what happens next! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Kricket Series, and hope I won’t have to wait too long for the next book, of course in the mean time hopefully I’ll be reading the final book in The Premonition series (fingers crossed).
Water swirls around me as I open my eyes. I shiver, realizing I’m in Trey’s arms. He’s standing chest deep in crystal blue water with Wayra pacing on the bank only steps away. Clutching Trey closer to me, my cheek remains on his shoulder. Watching a bead of water slip down his powerful neck, I hear Jax say, “She’s waking up.”
Trey, cupping his hand in the water, pours some of it over my hair. It drips down the sides of my face, cooling me. “Let’s get her out. I’ll get the visor and we can check her vitals.”
As Trey wades out of the pond with me in his arms, I try to lift my head from his shoulder. It makes me dizzy so I lay it back. It’s then I notice that I’m only in my bra and underwear. A blush creeps into my cheeks as I hug Trey tighter to me. Wayra meets us on the bank, draping a blanket over us. Trey sits down with me on his lap. He leans against a tree trunk holding me securely to his chest. Peeking at his face, he seems angry as he smoothes my hair back from my face.
Hurrying over with the visor that looks like grandma goggles, Trey sets them on my eyes. Everything is green as I gaze around at the water in front of us. Flashing green lights and readouts occupy the peripherals of the glasses, but the information is running faster than I can possibly read it.
“Ho!” Jax exclaims next to me.
Immediately, Trey’s arms tighten on me as he barks out, “What? How bad is it?”
“Naw, it’s not bad…it’s just…Kricket…” Jax breathes, like he’s in awe. “Look at this brain activity…it’s massive.”
“What do you mean?” Trey asks with relief in his tone.
Jax grins. “She’s lighting everything up. Look at her frontal lobe…it’s off the charts.”
“What does that mean? Is she healthy?” Trey growls.
Jax nods enthusiastically. “She’s healthy! We didn’t fry her with heat stroke, that’s for sure. Or, if we did, she’s got more brain activity than anyone I’ve ever seen to compensate for it,” he replies, sounding seriously geeked about it.
“Those things aren’t broken, are they?” Trey asks speculatively.
“No…here.” Jax pulls them off my face. “Wayra, come here.”
Wayra walks over and Jax puts the glasses on his eyes. “See! He’s normal, well, normal for him. See how it doesn’t light up in these areas?” he points out to Trey.
“Now watch this,” he says, taking the glasses off of Wayra, he places them back on my face. “See? It’s like Christmas in Chicago with all those lights,” Jax says proudly.
“So that means she’s smart?”
Jax beams. “Yeah, she’s smart! She’s brilliant! There’s no telling what she can do.”
“If she’s so smart, why did she run until she almost popped? Why didn’t she just tell us she needed to rest?” Wayra asks derisively.
“Personality flaw,” Trey replies. “She’s going to show us that she’s not weak.”
“She’s sitting right here,” I murmur, pulling the glasses off my face and handing them to Jax.
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I live in Michigan with my husband and our two sons. My family is very supportive of my writing. When I’m writing, they often bring me the take-out menu so that I can call and order them dinner. They listen patiently when I talk about my characters like they’re real. They rarely roll their eyes when I tell them I’ll only be a second while I finish writing a chapter…and then they take off their coats. They ask me how the story is going when I surface after living for hours in a world of my own making. They have learned to accept my “writing uniform” consisting of a slightly unflattering pink fleece jacket, t-shirt, and black yoga pants. And they smile at my nerdy bookishness whenever I try to explain urban fantasy to them. In short, they get me, so they are perfect and I am blessed.