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Starglass Hardcover – July 23, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Starglass Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up–Humanity was given five years to prepare when they learned that an asteroid would destroy Earth. The healthiest were sent away in every direction in the hopes that the human race could survive and find a new home, while the rest were left to wait. Nearly 500 years have passed since the asteroid arrived, and the only home that Terra has ever known is on the Asherah, a massive spaceship ferrying roughly 1000 Jewish settlers to their new planet. Nearing her 16th birthday and the end of her journey, Terra is pulled into an underground resistance movement when she witnesses the brutal murder of a passenger at the hands of the captain's guard. She learns that her life has been a facade of false choice and classism, and that her mother's death may not have been natural. On the ship there are strict requirements about marriage, to the extent that all boys are sterilized at puberty and all new children grown in labs. When Terra is introduced to the resistance through the boy whom she has agreed to marry, she learns that he is involved with another male member of the resistance. Through diary entries, readers learn that the resistance started with Terra's great-grandmother over her dissatisfaction with being contractually obligated to marry a man on the ship. The intrigue builds as it becomes clear that Terra's ancestors may have been the first to rebel. While there are certainly strong science-fiction overtones and dystopian influences, the claustrophobic nature of the ship grounds the characterization. This book offers an excellent resource to support diversity as marriage equality and LGBT issues are a dominant factor in the narrative, making it more interesting than many similar titles.–Ryan F. Paulsen, New Rochelle High School, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In North’s dystopian debut, space-traveling ship Asherah is the only home 15-year-old Terra Fineberg has ever known. Five hundred years ago, the ship left behind an Earth destroyed by an asteroid strike. Now a tightly regulated place run by a traditionalist council, Asherah carries fewer than 1,000 people as it heads for the planet Zehava, which the council aims to settle while they carry on centuries of earthly Jewish traditions. Each citizen has a life map: they’re shunted into the talent they display when they come of age, matched with a genetically ideal partner, and required to raise two children born outside the womb in a sort of hatchery. Burdened with a distant father, a dead mother, and a preordained future, Terra is angrily resigned to a life she doesn’t want. Then she witnesses a murder and discovers a rebellion, and her perspective abruptly shifts direction. With its onion-skin layers of plots and subterfuge around issues of trust and loyalty—not to mention a very strong writing style—this stellar debut should have strong interest from dystopian fans. Hand to fans of Maria V. Snyder or Beth Revis. Grades 7-12. --Julie Trevelyan
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 660L (What's this?)
  • Series: Starglass
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (July 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442459530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442459533
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Starglass is surprising. It's seemingly a pretty formulaic YA novel. There's an awkward heroine with the typical YA tropes: she's unsure of herself, worried about her future, and pluckily desperate to overturn the current social system. There's a love triangle--well, sort of--and the plot itself is simple to follow. But beneath the stereotypical exterior, Starglass ends up being quite different from the usual, and that's what I most appreciated about it.

For example, take the two love interests. Normally, YA boys are gooey constructions manufactured to make young female hearts sputter wildly, but the boys in this novel are frustrating...and not in a sexual way. I wanted to punch both of them at times, which I found oddly refreshing. Perfect teenage boys do not exist, so they shouldn't exist in the fictional realm. One love interest in particular reminded me of every spoiled, elitist prep school boy that I've had the misfortune of attending school with, and I loved it. It was cathartic to hate him, and not in a I-hate-you-but-also-find-your-arrogant-wiles-attractive way but in a pure I-hate-you-so-much-it-makes-me-want-to-stick-my-hand-in-a-blender way.

The other characters defy likeability standards as well. The story begins with the death of Terra's mother, but instead of lionizing the mother, North paints her character ambiguously. My feelings about every character are ambivalent, which I think relates to North's overall theme: things aren't cut and dry. Everyone is a mix of good and bad, so we must act in line with moral standards we've personally determined to be acceptable.

My second favorite thing is the discussion of sundry social issues.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
STARGLASS was an entertaining science fiction story that takes place on a generation ship that is nearing its destination. The main character is Terra. She has lost her mother to cancer - the first cancer death in the ship's 500 year history - and has been left with her father who is so buried in grief and anger that he doesn't make a good parent. At age sixteen, Terra is given her vocation as all others her age are. While she is a talented artist, she is assigned to be a botanist.

Sixteen-year-olds on the ship also pick their life partners with girls as likely to propose as boys. Terra's father is encouraging her to pair up with his apprentice. Koen is willing but Terra senses something off about him. When he introduces her to the revolutionary underground, Terra learns secrets that move her out of her complacency and into a more active role in the fate of the voyage.

This one has lots of the familiar tropes of generation ships. The leadership has apparently lost sight of the good of the people and are most concerned with keeping their social position. I did have some problem with the science fiction. A crew of 1000, despite how clean their genes are, seems too small to make a self-sustaining colony. Even though the boys are sterilized and babies are made in artificial wombs, I have a hard time thinking that they aren't getting pretty inbred after 500 years. I was also asking myself why they had gravity when the engines were off in the ship. I thought that it was unique that the base population of this ship was Jewish. One of the aims of the people who planned this was to keep Jewish culture alive.

I didn't mention that Terra has been having odd dreams of the planet they are approaching and the love that is waiting for her there. I chose to pull this one off my TBR mountain at just the right time. A sequel - STARBREAK - was released on July 8. I am eager to see what happens when they reach the planet they have been travelling toward for so long.
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Format: Hardcover
Phoebe North's Starglass has been on my radar ever since I learned that the author was once a prominent blogger. I've never read that blog and don't know too much about her, but I like supporting bloggers, so I wanted to read this book. I always expect big things from bloggers who publish, because they know better than anyone what tropes to avoid, or so I assume. For the most part, that was very true in Starglass and I did very much enjoy North's debut.

The plot on a basic level is highly reminiscent of Beth Revis' Across the Universe trilogy. However, in the course of one book, North takes the plot through what took two books in that series: the dissent on the ship and the approach to the planet towards which they've been heading. This is not to say that the two are identical by any means, because they're not. In fact, I think I rather like Starglass better, both for the abbreviated time on ship and for the more interesting characters.

As I mentioned already, North does a lot of those things bloggers regularly request. There's diversity in that everyone on board the Asherah is Jewish, this being one of many ships that departed Earth as its destruction neared the Asherah only accepted those of Jewish descent. One of Terra's ancestors, a non-practicing Jew and a lesbian (squee!) found a place on the ship. There are other gay characters as well, which is awesome, even if society does not approve, which is less awesome.

Another fantastic thing is how many of the authority figures on the Asherah are female. Women and men are in equal standing here. The current leader of the guard is an imposing female by the name of Captain Wolff.
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