Review of ‘Scavenge the Stars’

A compelling retelling, Scavenge the Stars, is a compelling take on the classic The Count of Monte Cristo.

Compelling Storytelling

Scavenge the Stars

Scavenge the Stars
by Tara Sim
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The thing that makes Scavenge the Stars so compelling is how it takes the reader by surprise. When the reader begins this journey, it is easy to forget that it is supposed to be a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo as it follows Amaya, an indentured young girl working on a debtor ship.

Sim builds up the story, building Amaya’s history and how she fits into the story with excellent pacing. So when she reveals herself as a countess, it fits into the formula of a retelling, capturing the reader’s attention. It sneaks up on the reader as Sim tells the story, using her pacing and language to keep the reader enthralled. 

Sim’s precision with writing, going back and forth between perspectives, lures the reader into the story, making the reader forget that this is a retelling. Retellings are great as long as they can stand on their own; that is why it works so well. Sim uses The Count of Monte Cristo as inspiration, but Sim makes it unique. Sim focuses on the past of the characters to build up the tension and to give the reader something new. Going back and forth between the characters, the reader has no idea that one story arc starts long before the other. It was a creative way to make the reader forget that this is a retelling.

Compelling Characters

Amaya and Cayo are both interesting characters. Amaya is the Countess here. Formerly an indentured slave, Amaya is now helping her financier with their plan of revenge, a plan primarily connected to her past and her father’s death.

This take on a classic is unique, and it works and for Amaya, the reader gets to know her, her past, and understand her. She makes a compelling protagonist who is rash, guided by her anger, fear, and curiosity. Yes, there are times when the reader wants to smack her, but ultimately, her personality shines and grows throughout the story. As Amaya learns more and more about her father’s pasts and the events that lead to her servitude, she lets go of her need for revenge that blinds her in search of the truth, making her compelling.

As for Cayo, it is great to see a member of the LGBTQ community represented through him. He is a carefree character who grows throughout the story. His relationship with his father is tenuous at best, creating much tension for the story. He is a crucial player in Amaya’s plan, but he has his mystery to solve, his own plans for life that help evolve him as a character.

Cayo and Amaya also have a rich dynamic. Sim builds up their relationship wonderfully, highlighting their pain, their flaws, and their strengths to create a compelling dynamic to fuel the story. More importantly, they grow throughout the narrative creating fascinating characters.

Final Thoughts

Scavenge the Stars is a fresh and imaginative gender-bent retelling of a classic. It has bold language, an exciting plot, and characters to keep the reader engaged. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Product Details:

Pub Date: January 7, 2020Page Count: 336ppAge Range: 14 & Over
ISBN: 978-1-3680-5141-5Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersList Price: $18.99

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Scavenge the Stars


Writing Quality


Character Development


"Couldn't Put It Down"-ness


Intellectual Depth





  • Original
  • Great pacing
  • Good world-building.
  • Good character development

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