Spinning Starlight -- R.C. Lewis
**This book is a fairy tale retelling based on The Wild Swans, according to sources. It is a sister spin-off from Stitching Snow, but takes place in a different world with different characters, so does NOT require reading Stitching Snow first.
This is one of those books where I really can't think of anything to say aside from a few generic "This was an enjoyable book, but some things just didn't work out for me," comments. Of course, I say this, but in the end, I always end up rambling up a storm when random thoughts start to hit me as I write.
Spinning Starlight really is quite enjoyable and attention-hooking, with a great premise, great world-building, great characters, great story-telling, and great narration.
But it's not my pick for "really, really, really awesome read" if only because of a few factors:
First: The world building is creative. I thought the same of Stitching Snow--kind of a Star Wars meets Fairy Tale worlds retelling type of deal. But the world in Spinning Starlight is just so much more complex... and confusing. I can tell a lot of thought was put into the world creation and it's pretty awesome. That is, it would have been very awesome if I had a better understanding of the world, its' cultures, and the tech and the people and the history. But I got lost a lot reading some of the tech explanations, about the portals, about the Khua, about the conduits, about the planets... I'm not even sure if it was just me or if the book really was that confusing.
Second: The main villain was mostly absent throughout. And so the main conflict--Liddi's brother's safety and the safety of the entire universe in general--had to be the one factor everything hinges on for Liddi's actions and decisions. Which, in a way, isn't too bad, but it made our main villain seem kind of insignificant
Third: The romance felt lackluster really. And I'm not even sure why because there's a great development from savior to friendship to romance. Liddi and Tiav are pretty great together. But they don't seem to have much chemistry.
Lastly: The other characters felt very back-seated. There was so much to learn and so many new people to meet and everyone seems to have their own uniqueness. But none of what was presented felt like it was enough for me. I would have liked to know more about Kalkig and how his hostile relationship develops into a reluctant alliance with Liddi. I would have liked to see more about Tiav's mother Shiin. I would have liked to get to know Liddi's eight brothers a bit more. And I would have liked to learn more about the Aelo and the other alien races introduced.
This book felt entirely too short, but at the same time, the main plot felt like it dragged along without really getting anywhere.
But this book isn't without things that I liked about it.
Again, the story premise, narration, writing, attention-to-detail, and world creation was wonderful! Even the characters, given more of a chance to shine, would have been excellent. I especially loved the relationship between Liddi and her brothers being such a tight knit and close one. And given more time and more story, I would have loved to see all the new friendships and alliances Liddi forms throughout with Kalkig, with Quain, with Yilt, or with Spin-Still.
See. Lots of names, lots of characters, lots of interactions (as much interacting as a girl who cannot speak can do), but little insight into these characters and their defining relationships with Liddi. Sure, you can see a connection of some sort forming between our heroine and these side characters; but there's not chemistry, no feels, no intrigue to bind them. The interactions feel lackluster, much like the romance felt lackluster.
On the other hand, I DO like the way in which Liddi's inability to speak was handled. How she communicated with each character was done quite well, even if I'm maybe a little doubtful that all the characters could so very easily pick up Liddi's meaning without elaborate pictures and pantomiming. Still, her communication with everyone without actually speaking and without knowing a written language was interesting enough, and the author didn't make it easy on her just because she's the special heroine.
This book also does a great job of emphasizing the troubles that people have with media and social networking--how easily and readily other people use it as a means to cut other people down because they can, how easily it is for another person's private matters to be broadcast into the public... etc. At first, I thought the little tidbits of Liddi's childhood flashbacks were kind of awkward, but I ended up liking them by the end.
Back to Liddi and her brothers, again, I loved the interaction and relationship between them and wished we could have seen more of that. In fact, there were some feels to be had and it DID help in favor of me liking this book more.
Anyway, of course this supposedly "short" review becomes a bit more rambling than I had intended.
Spinning Starlight is enjoyable and entertaining, well-written and well-thought out. It's safe to say I will still be watching out for future works by R.C. Lewis and am now a bit interested in the fairy tale that this book is based upon (The Wild Swans? I think.)