By Cynthia Bujnicki
Rhee, now empress must face off against Nero, the mastermind behind her family’s death and her planned assassination, while she looks for her sister. Alyosha and Kara, planets away, seek revenge and a precious piece of technology that could be the key to controlling the galaxy. As these three learn to navigate a treacherous galaxy, their paths will bring them to the brink of darkness.
An interesting novel that is the end of an interesting duet. The most powerful aspect of this novel is the world building because the way the world building functions with this novel lies with the development of the characters.
Splitting the novel into three POVs works so well only because they each capture a different facet of this universe. It’s expansive, and in many ways operates like a space opera with a young adult voice. Space operas are expansive, they are long, and switch between characters in order to capture the universe. Belleza does this superbly in this novel by using those character dynamics to her advantage. Of course, this only works so well because she spent the first novel focusing on those characters and their backstory. Much of that backstory leeks into this novel, but it doesn’t hinder the story because the way the story functions, with the political upheaval, the different races, the prejudices and injustices, they need to be understood by the reader. In order to do this properly, in order to spur emotion on the part of the reader is to connect much of the context to the characters. But that’s not enough either. The characters have to be engaging enough to make the reader feel invested in them. Belleza does all of that wonderfully here.
These are such rich characters, and the way they all have different origins and voices, the way the story brings converges their arcs is wonderful. Each character is going through something different. There is a variety of internal struggles that propel the story forward, which helps the reader understand the universe the characters live in. There is so much injustice in the novel, such unfairness based on prejudices that all link back towards the characters. They all have to face the injustices and prejudices on their own terms in the novel, working to develop their characterization and the readers understanding of the universe. Once again, Blood of a Thousand Stars ties the two together, allowing the characters to grow through the struggles they have to face, struggles they have to face because the universe is changing all around them. They work in tandem with one another, allowing the story to breathe. The universe is the brain, the characters the heart, and everything else is the blood that allows it all to live and breathe.
It’s a powerful novel, how it brings to life such important issues like immigration, racial profiling, and refugees within the scope of science fiction. The imagery is strong, the personification of the injustices felt by the characters is strong, and the level of depth allows for a strong reading. What’s more is that these topics, they are tough topics, topics that should be understood and discussed. Belleza uses these tough topics to bring her story to life, to seek out a way to ground the science fiction into something relatable for the reader, something tangible to latch onto.
At the end of the day, it’s an excellent novel. The pace of the novel leaves nothing to be desired because it moves to effortless, creating tension and allowing the characters to shine in the action and political intrigue of the novel. As a finale, it is bittersweet, with numerous plot twists that are far from predictable, keeping the reader at the end of their seat. (★★★★☆ | A)