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Stray (Touchstone Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
It's long but truly worth it.
As for the story, I loved it. I hadn't read anything like it and I am a Sci/Fi Fantasy nut, so that's saying a lot!
Excellent world building and character involvement.
While the characters are young they don't come across as teens or young people. Cass is very well rounded and while just graduating from high school is quite mature, and yet still not an adult in all things. Yeah there are times she can be a bit moody or whining, she recognizes it and keeps going on with life, putting that part aside afterwards. No one going through what she goes through wouldn't be unhappy and sometimes whiny.
I felt a lot of empathy with her, as I'd have dealt with a lot of what she now has to deal with in similar ways. I'm over 50, so that says something for her maturity.
Other reviews will go into the book and the characters etc in more depth, I just wanted to say that I loved the series, loved that the author wrapped it up and in the Gratuitous Epilogue pulled it all together and let us know how the rest of their lives would likely continue.
Thank you Andrea for writing this.
There are a few typos, and sometimes the wording is odd, or seems to leave out a word here or there, but they were rare and didn't bother me too much. Sometimes I think it was just a language thing between the authors home language and the Aussie variations in the english language. It didn't affect my enjoyment at all.
Goodreads recommended this book to me due to my love of The Last Hour of Gann and while I must admit that I really enjoyed this freebie (so much so that I already got my hands on part 2), I don't really see how these two books can really be compared. The Last Hour of Gann is brutal, it's full of violence and things you normally wouldn't want to read about. Stray, on the other hand, is a story in a diary format of a girl who somehow stumbles into a parallel world/universe through a wormhole. There's some violence, but due to the diary format it seems pretty meek and it would be an exaggeration to call it graphic.
The world our heroine Cassandra stumbles into is a truly wondrous scifi world. At first it doesn't seem all that wondrous, but then she's rescued by an alien race (I am still wondering if it's the best word to use here) who are pretty humanoid, but differ from humans in some slight ways. For instance, they have these special abilities they use to fight the bad guys. Their society is pretty advanced in a way - everyone has an integrated interface in their brains that allows you to change the way buildings look like around you, allows you to attend school in your head, send e-mails, contact someone directly, and this interface also allows the government to record everything you do. Kind of cool, but also kind of creepy or what?
But what I really liked about our heroine Cass was the fact that she didn't whine, she didn't cry at every obstacle (or at the very least she didn't write it down), she tried to make the best of the situation she was in, and most of all, she was a realistic girl with realistic expectations of the world she had stumbled into. Plus, it didn't hurt that there was no instant love-triangle thingy going on. Sure, there were a few hints about a possible romance or two, but nothing further than "this guy is kind of cute". Also, I adored the fact that she really struggled in learning the new language (just like Amber did...).
On to the next one!
If I write a quick sketch description, it sounds endlessly stereotypical and privileged and dull. Cass is an ordinary high school student, but one day she gets whisked into another dimension, an abandoned world (Muina) of mystery and magic moonlight. She gets rescued from that by some seriously attractive psychic warriors her own age, especially the super-hot strong silent Ruuel. She is taken to a third world, Tare, where she discovers that she has an unique psychic power. She helps the psychic soldiers explore Muina, and turns out to have another ancient secret gift that make the world safe for them. It's even got some of the really tedious tropes: One of her eyes gets changed to mysterious different colors, and she acquires a pet spectral magic cat.
That's all true and that's a pretty good plot synopsis. But Stray is absolutely wonderful. It's got all those tropes, but they're done *right*, in creative ways that make them interesting and troublesome plot points rather than making Cass into Mary Sue. Nothing feels forced. The colored eyes? Probably damage or side effects from one of the powerful tech/psychic/magic things she's exposed to. The magic cat? Perhaps an alien monster spy or something. The unique psychic power? She can enhance other peoples' psychic powers, but she can't do anything on her own. The hunky super-psychic soldier Ruuel? Regards her as an asset more than a person.
Cass doesn't seem privileged: she's not The Chosen One from the beginning of the story, or even from the end. She's sometimes a minor problem for the Tarens, and sometimes a medium-sized advantage, and usually both. They're not so much worshipping her and expecting her to fulfill some prophecy as — running lots of experiments on her and trying to figure out what's going on. She's not The Chosen One. She's Lab Rat One. (And writes that on her clothes in magic marker, too.)
The story is written as Cass's diary. It's in English and nobody on Tare speaks English. (Cass's command of the Taren language is pretty shaky, and the Tarens initially think she's stupid because she can't talk.) She's got a delicious snarky style. Cass has some really awful experiences — e.g., being stranded on Muina and trying with limited success to figure out which fruits aren't poisonous — but she manages to keep her diary witty even when she's obviously miserable. She doesn't take herself too seriously, despite becoming a valuable pawn in a complicated confusing game. But she doesn't underplay how serious the situation is, either.
Five mystery ghost cats out of five for _Stray_. I just zooped out and bought the other three books of the trilogy. (Yes, it's a four-book trilogy. Book four is named "Gratuituous Epilogue", and evidently shows how the characters get on after the trilogy is over. Evidently the fightiest scene in it is a snowball fight.)
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