Starling by Lesley Livingston
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Release date: August 7, 2012
Series: Starling #1
Reviewed by: Lili
Mason Starling is a champion fencer on the Gosforth Academy team, but she’s never had to fight for her life. Not until the night a ferocious, otherworldly storm rips through Manhattan, trapping Mason and her teammates inside the school. Mason is besieged by nightmarish creatures more terrifying than the thunder and lightning as the raging tempest also brings a dangerous stranger into her life: a young man who remembers nothing but his name–the Fennrys Wolf. His arrival tears Mason’s world apart, even as she feels an undeniable connection to him. Together, they seek to unravel the secrets of Fenn’s identity as strange and supernatural forces gather around them. When they discover Mason’s family–with its dark allegiance to ancient Norse gods–is at the heart of the mystery, Fennrys and Mason are suddenly faced with a terrifying future.
Set against the gritty, shadowed back-drop of New York City, this first novel in award-winning author Lesley Livingston’s epic Starling Saga is an intoxicating blend of sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action.
I greatly enjoyed WONDROUS STRANGE the year it came out. But that was also long enough ago that my reading taste has evolved drastically. I don’t know if Livingston’s writing has always been this way and I liked it more when I was younger, or if this book just missed the mark that WONDROUS STRANGE was able to hit. Either way, I think I went in expecting too much and was, unfortunately, disappointed.
While the opening sequence of this book is awesome in the sense that it is packed full of action, that’s the only positive thing I can say about it. Once I stepped away to actually consider what was going on, I was struck with how random and convoluted it all seemed because the kids—completely out of nowhere–were suddenly killing these evil creatures that they never knew existed with lead pipes and the help of a naked boy with mad sword-wielding skills. Sounds rather interesting though slightly strange, don’t you think? If such a scene was executed with more explanation and less unknown, I think I would have enjoyed it much more. Instances like this that are strange, unexpected, and unexplainable more than anything else pretty much set the tone with this one and can be found throughout.
But what really caused this story to drag for me was the concept of “show don’t tell” when writing. I love detail, I love being shown the unraveling of new mysteries, being dropped hints to figure things out myself as a reader, but I almost felt as if Livingston was telling me everything. We would get a huge little piece of potential speculation dropped on us only to have a character flat out explain everything a page later and tell us what we need to know instead of giving us the chance to infer anything. This frustrated me more and more as I read and I felt like it could have really helped further the plot if it was the other way around. I, unfortunately, can’t share an example of this with you because I don’t want to spoil anything.
Despite all of this, other plot points were truly fascinating to me. The Norse mythology is plentiful, though slightly confusing in the very beginning. Unfortunately, the revelations evolving around the Norse mythology, especially in Rory’s case, are told to us instead of shown. With all of that being said though, I think that most people will enjoy this one. This is one of those cases that most people I have talked to that have read this book loved it. It seems that I am more or less an outlier by disliking it and finding it unsatisfying.
So do I recommend it to anyone? It’s really hard to say. While I am in no rush to read the sequel and may not make an effort to do so, I think that it’s worth giving this book a chance because it seems to be widely adored by many and disliked by very few (me being one of the few).