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Sky Without Stars, by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell: Review

On the planet of Laterre, the oppressed Third Estate lives to provide for the privileged higher classes beneath a sky that never clears. Unrest is kept in check by the ruling Second Estate and their propaganda: "honest work for an honest chance."

All Chatine wants is a ticket off this planet to a better life somewhere in the galaxy. Her opportunity arrives in the form of Marcellus Bonnefaçon—a young officer who is beginning to question everything the Second Estate stands for. Spy on him, and she'll have her escape from Laterre. For a con artist like Chatine, that's a simple choice . . . until a rebel plot, a mysterious girl named Alouette, and the voice of her own treacherous heart says it isn't.

Having now read it twice, I can confidently say that this is one of the most addictive and spellbinding YA novels I've read in a long time. With the futuristic vibe of The Lunar Chronicles and the heart-rending depth of Les Misérables, it is a truly stunning read. World-building is rich and tangible and the characters are stellar—cheer for whom you will, but each one has undeniable virtues and an alluring past.

Content Notes: English swearing is kept to a handful of "d*mn"s, although tamer French-y substitutes are used more frequently. Crude characters behave like crude characters, and the destitute lives of the Third Estate leads some women known as "blood whores" to sell the nutrients in their blood to survive.

Once snared, this novel didn't release me until I finished, and certainly whetted my appetite for the next book in the System Divine series!

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