Made of Stars

Viking. Mar. 2023. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593525210.
Gr 9 Up–Ava and Shane are outlaws. Desperate to escape their dead-end planet, they con and thieve their way through space. On the other side of the law, top military cadet Cyrus has escaped his own hardships on a much different planet and is swept directly to the heart of his planet’s powerful leadership. When Shane overhears Cyrus’s commanding officer plotting to decimate their much weaker home planet, he and Ava take on a new mission—one that will make them truly notorious. Based loosely on the historical criminals Bonnie and Clyde, this action-packed sci-fi tale elevates the stakes from bank robberies to interplanetary espionage. While those familiar with the real-life duo will appreciate nods to their story, the real standout of this tale is Cyrus who, after several run-ins with Ava and Shane, must reckon with mounting evidence that the people he has sworn himself to are anything but honorable. The setting is intriguing, but often suffers from shaky world-building and character motivations that run from vague to contradictory, and readers are asked to accept circumstances that stretch logic (like several newly graduated cadets being at the right hand of planetary leaders). Despite this, the characters’ emotions and relationships pack a powerful punch and the action keeps the pages turning. Questions of loyalty, power, and systemic corruption are explored in ways that teens will connect strongly with as they prepare to enter adulthood in today’s society.
VERDICT A solid purchase for many collections, especially where action and high drama are popular.

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