A Wilderness of Stars, Shea Ernshaw

A blue cover, the title is in white and the 'o' in 'of' is a half moon. There are golden stars around a swirl.

About the Book

When all is lost, look to the stars.

Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But when Vega sees an omen in the sky—one she cannot ignore—she is forced to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. Yet the outside world is much more terrifying than Vega could have ever imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.

But Vega has a secret: she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who understands the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to a cure. So when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts. Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos.

On the run from the men hunting her, Vega sets out across the plains with Cricket and Noah, in search of a fabled cure kept secret by the astronomers. But as the line between friends and protectors begins to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomers…or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.

Book Links

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My Thoughts

The Last Astronomer? How did we get here? I asked myself that a lot while reading because I didn’t know what was happening for a good portion of the book, but I liked the not-knowing. You don’t get to know what “being the last astronomer” means for most of the book, but you’re enjoying the storyline too much to care.

The plot is very slow to evolve, which feels planned, so don’t expect to get your answers in a hurry because that won’t happen.

However, it’s hard to ignore how absolutely ill-prepared Vega is for the world. (And for me, at least, even harder to ignore the junk science.) Vega is supposed to be The Last Astronomer. Her mother has trained her for this her entire life. Vega is sent out into the world and doesn’t know how to run when told. She questions it, or for what feels like the 100th time, her throat burns, and her feet freeze, so she questions it. rolls eyes And heaven forbid she thinks to tie a bandana or something around her neck because how many times are you just going to give away who you are because you’re so utterly unprepared for a life in hiding?

breathe

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a book 1 based on the ending (which is sketchy, and you really have to suspend belief for.) I see other reviewers hoping for more, and maybe that’s the goal, to leave the reader with hope. Ernshaw creates a need with her readers. You need to know what being the last astronomer means. You need to know why people are dying, and why consumption is back in the world at such alarming rates. That need keeps the reader engaged with the story, even when the main character isn’t the best we could hope for, given that she’s all we can hope for. But I can look past irksome characters to appreciate a fun storyline, and this has it. So this has some ups and downs, but it has so many appealing elements that I think readers will enjoy this one.

Read this review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub.

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