Month: December 2016

Happy book birthday to Imani Josey’s THE BLAZING STAR

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Sixteenyear-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

I received an ecopy of THE BLAZING STAR in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, look at that cover. Just LOOK at it. So gorgeous. I’m really happy this cover showcases Portia, a powerful WoC, in all her glory.

This book intrigued me from the second I heard of it. I mean, time travelling Black girls in ancient Egypt + magic and danger? Yes please.

Unfortunately, I felt a little let down. I liked this book, but I think its execution fell short of its potential.

Portia, the main character, is set up well in the opening, contemporary chapters. She’s been overshadowed by her twin her entire life, and we see perfect examples of that and the results of it on the page. Once we get booted into ancient Egypt, her character kind of fell apart for me. What does she want? We don’t really know. Is it to get home? Maybe, but only because her sister wants to. She doesn’t seem to have her own consistent motivation driving her story forward.

Something I love about Portia is her overall badassery. She has a solid sense of right and wrong, and she’s not afraid to break away from her twin to do the right thing—even if it’s terrifying. She also isn’t afraid to stick her neck out for other people. I just wish we could’ve seen this translated into her having a more active role in her plot arc, rather than being puppeted around by the High Priest and Priestesses.

World building wise, I liked this, but I didn’t love it. I felt there was so much potential to explore the history and magic and different cultures in this world, but to me it fell flat. Most of the stuff we (and Portia) learn is through other people explicitly saying it, which felt stiff and unnatural. It would’ve helped if Portia was more active in learning about the world she got plopped into.

Finally, the relationship between the girls could’ve used some development. I have a feeling this is going to be a central focus of the second book, which I am for sure going to read. THE BLAZING STAR almost felt like a prequel, in which we get a lot of information but not a lot of character and plot development. Overall, I just wanted more. I want more insight into the characters, a deeper understanding of the central conflicts, and deeper involvement in the people and their cultures.

That said, I definitely think this book is worth a read because it’s so unique. I’ve never read a fantasy like this one, and I’m invested enough to stick around for book two.

Oh, and, the relationship between Portia and the prince. I’m not going to say anything else because I don’t want to spoil it. But. Here for this.

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Add it. Buy it. Love it.

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