The Sound of Stars

Inkyard. Feb. 2020. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781335911551.
Gr 8 Up–Janelle is an avid reader, a loyal friend, and is very frustrated with racial injustice. Then the Ilori, a race of mathematical energy beings, arrive to colonize Earth. Human squabbles pale compared to potential annihilation. MORr1S is Ilori and although he’s here for mere days, is tasked with completing a vaccine to wipe out humanity. Yet all is not as it seems. There is a growing rebellion, with MORr1S and Janelle at the front of it. They bond over forbidden music and books, acknowledging their friendship and budding romance while on the run to California. A boy band comes to their rescue, though the band is actually a more benevolent race of aliens masquerading as human. Ultimately, they save what is left of humanity through science, music, and love. Pop culture references, lyrics, and original songs pepper the novel, told in four parts, alternating between the protagonists’ perspectives. There are also mentions of major political movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. Readers may find the constant band quotes distracting, as protagonists rely heavily on lyrics to express their predictable feelings. The stilted speech patterns of the Ilori read like computer passwords unless colored with emotion inconsistent with their characters. The story is disappointingly predictable while simultaneously offering readers random, abrupt plot turns with little explanation. Overall, this novel has an intriguing premise featuring a diverse cast—Janelle is black and bisexual while MORr1S has many non-binary comrades—yet the writing relies too heavily on clichés and trite, juvenile feelings.
VERDICT Only purchase where readers request romantic sci-fi books.

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