Light From Uncommon Stars

hardcover, 368 pages

Published Sept. 27, 2021 by Tor Books.

ISBN:
978-1-250-78906-8
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4 stars (15 reviews)

Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in this defiantly joyful adventure set in California's San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts.

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka's ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She's found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn't have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan's kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul's worth. And maybe something …

3 editions

passionate, tense, wonderful

5 stars

aoki weaves passion for music together with a sci-fi subplot and a devil's bargain, in what feels like a very strange combination when you read the synopsis, but in fact works perfectly. aoki discusses trans issues, redemption, music, race, and technology with nuance and wit. her characters are vibrant and lively, flawed but lovable. i can't imagine anyone reading this without caring about aoki's characters to the point of tears in both its darker, and more uplifting moments.

i can't recommend this book strongly enough.

heeeeeelllll yeah

4 stars

Finished this book in about a week. I've heard of Ryka Aoki before but I did not know she was trans, so I was even more hyped to read this book and learn more about her. The writing level is appropriate for something oriented at the YA audience, especially with how it drops pop culture references (lmao Lindsey Stirling, Sword Art Online, and totally-not-undertale) and reaches to the occult and sci-fi. It was easy to breeze through.

I enjoyed the world building and character building a lot for those at the center of the stage, the food is given a lot of care 🤤, it really took the story forward from the start. You start to get draw into the cadence of their life. While the ending felt like what I thought was sufficient for a YA novel, I was disappointed how some characters really did not get their justice/recognition. …

Wonderful

5 stars

A book driven by its characters. I think it would be hard not to empathise with Katrina. The momentum keeps going and you want it to keep going for the characters. Leap of faith in the storyline, no problem, I want this to happen for them.

Written with the narrators view it was able to weave the stories of several people together, but with a strong emphasis on a couple of characters. The narration was also used to skip some of the exacting detail about Katrina's early life while explaining it. For sure a content warning for some of that though.

I loved it, but...

5 stars

I can't remember the last time I read a novel that I felt so much. I love the characters, particularly the three central women, I love the story, wild though it is, I love the descriptions, and I love the ending. I felt invested in the characters' lives, particularly Katrina's, in a way I rarely do.

I'm not sure I can unequivocally recommend it, though. Ryka Aoki doesn't shy away from showing how hard Katrina's life is. The first few chapters are particularly tough going, but even when things pick up for her, it's still not all beer and skittles. Not sure I could provide a definitive list of CWs, but transphobia and sexual assault would have to be in there.

"You’re a selfish little thing, aren’t you?”

3 stars

Content warning Very poor ending; selling souls to hell does pay!

A strange book, but addictive reading.

4 stars

What a bizarre book. The mix of tones and genres is really jarring. We have a surreal mishmash of demonic, space opera, donuts... but also abuse, transphobia, racism. It also does this strange thing, where it switches viewpoint characters multiple times a page in the middle of a conversation, that I never quite knew what to make of. Overall this book is extremely readable, it drew me in completely. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but I definitely enjoyed it.

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