I’m at a loss for how to begin.
There’s so much to love about Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim, but there are also many, many flaws that simply can’t be ignored.
Its saving grace is that I didn’t feel really disappointed in this book until about the last ten pages when I realized everything I wanted to happen wasn’t going to happen.
So for 320 pages, I was pretty well immersed in the story.
Let’s back up for a minute.
Scavenge the Stars Review
The way this book opens…
I haven’t read anything so gripping, so picturesque, so…rugged and gruesome.
The detail with which Sim describes Amaya, our heroine, and her plight.
We begin with Amaya on a debtor ship, finishing up a seven year sentence to repay the debts of her parents.
The terrible, heinous crimes against humanity committed by the slaver, Captain Zharo, is among some of the most despicable things I have ever read.
Here is a man to hate. A man to loathe. A man to truly despise.
And he is wasted.
Completely and utterly wasted in the story. Sim could have done so much more with him.
There are two other antagonists: Kamon Mercado, a rich nobleman, and Jun Salvador, also known as the Slum King, who is basically a mob boss.
Both of them are painted early as Zharo-types, but much worse than Zharo.
Unfortunately, this falls very very flat in the story.
Sim attempts to keep up appearances, and the Slum King comes pretty close, but ultimately he doesn’t get enough face time in the story and any threat the reader feels from him is minimal.
In fact, the one person you least expect to be a bad guy turns out to be a bad guy with ten pages left in the book and absolutely no explanation to go along with it.
The middle is all well and fine.
I actually really really enjoyed it.
There’s some surprises, some romance, some blood-filled action sequences.
It’s pretty great stuff.
But a lot of it could have been condensed.
Sim waxes eloquent on things that don’t need waxing.
And she’s sparse on the details that we really care about.
Book-long points of tension and questions in Scavenge the Stars either go unresolved or are answered so quickly, with almost no foreshadowing, that the revelation provides no sense of satisfaction whatsoever.
A character who disappears early on suddenly reappears (not even in grand fashion I might add) out of thin air.
While the machinations of the bad guys are revealed at the end, the “why” of it was conveniently missing.
As a matter of fact, the “why” of anything in this story is pretty much missing.
Amaya is so wholeheartedly consumed by hatred and revenge that she spends little effort in dealing with it internally.
The Good Again
Lest I get carried away with negativity, Scavenge the Stars wasn’t all bad.
There’s a small plot thread about how Amaya ended up on a debtor ship in the first place, and that had a very satisfactory “surprise” moment at the end.
But it’s bittersweet when you understand what situation, so it stops you from fully appreciating it as much as you could have.
The romance between Amaya, and Mercado’s wayward son, Cayo, is pretty good.
Nothing earth shattering as Scavenge the Stars hits all the genre norms for a romance, straight down to a betrayal of trust and the need for reconciliation for the relationship to move forward.
There’s obviously going to be a next book based on the way the story ends.
And Some Gray Stuff
Very little is resolved and much still hangs in the air.
One of the most annoying parts of the story is that there’s a revelation that any savvy reader will be able to discover that goes completely over Amaya’s head.
And Sim didn’t even deign to reveal it for “real” even if to another character.
We are left wondering, but not really wondering, because it’s pretty obvious, but because it wasn’t written down, it still hangs out there.
And here is Amaya totally not even piecing it together. What’s more amazing is how she doesn’t. Because, wow, she remembers everything else.
Sure she’s preconceived to think one thing based on circumstances, and I suppose I get it.
But really, how do you not wonder given all that happened?
I know I’m speaking gibberish to those of you who’ve not read the book, but you’ll just have to go read it to see what I’m talking about.
The Bottom Line
Scavenge the Stars is still worth reading.
It’s a great book. Don’t let me reservations convince you otherwise.
It was picked up by Disney Hyperion after all. And pretty much everything Disney touches turns to gold.
I will say I never saw one thing coming. Very early on you learn about Ash Fever, this sickness that’s plaguing the land.
Cayo’s sister falls ill early on in the story and drives him to do a lot of the desperate things which he does.
That side of the plot completely blindsided me. Not because it was anything earth-shattering, but because it was so wholly unexpected.
I really can’t say a word more of it without spoiling your own discovery of it.
What would I do differently to this story?
I’d probably ease off of Amaya’s sheer blind rage, trim some of Cayo’s story, add in some foreshadowing for important plot points, and spend just a little more time on a satisfactory climax.
Will I read the second book when it comes out? Probably.
Will I be jumping to read it the day it releases?
I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
3.5/5 stars for Tara Sim’s Scavenge the Stars.
Looking for more great reviews? Check out Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller