Book Review: Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Book One in the System Divine Series

Add Sky Without Stars to your Goodreads TBR:

Published in Paperback in February 2020 by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

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Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction, Fantasy.

Page Count: 579

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.

Sypnosis from Goodreads:

A thief. An officer. A guardian.

Three strangers. One shared destiny . . .

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spying on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a traitor. Groomed to command by his legendary grandfather, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when he discovers a cryptic message that only one person, a girl named Alouette, can read.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have roles to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Misérables.

My Review:

Okay, firstly let me begin by expressing how happy I am that I stumbled across this series! I honestly didn’t even know Sky Without Stars existed until I’d seen The YA Circle post about it being in stock at my local Dymocks and I was instantly intrigued! Les Miserables is my favourite musical and my favourite classic novel, I mean in terms of the music I listen to the Original London Cast Soundtrack every day! I absolutely adore the amazing characters that are Jean Valjean, Cosette, Marius, Eponine and there are even rare times when I feel myself sharing Javert’s torment (Roger Allam, well done!).

To say I was a bit excited about Sky Without Stars is definitely not an understatement.

I can happily confirm that for me, the stories of Alouette (Cosette), Marcellus (Marius..*singing* ‘Marius what’s wrong with you today? you look as if you’ve seen a ghost!‘ (whilst other memorable Les Mis players such as Enjorlas and Garantaire may be visibly missing from the text of Sky Without Stars, I can excitedly say that this wonderfully unique and enthralling novel perfectly captured the utter passion and fury and wonder that is at the heart of Les Miserables. Sky Without Stars reimagines the traditional setting of Les Miserables into space! I felt like the description of the whole of the System Divine and the planet Laterre were completely awe inspiring! I’d never read anything like this before and easily found myself marvelling at how Laterre especially was depicted, my attention being completely held when I was introduced to our first narrator, Chatine. She’s a street thief who disguises herself as a boy to try and steal enough goods in order for a passage off Laterre, escaping her woeful family and seeking out a future of her own that she’s always grasped and most definitely fought for!

When Chatine finds herself at the helm of a supposed bargain from the General, the most revered man on the Planet, to spy on his own Grandson (to see if Marcellus can be trusted or if he’ll allow his heart and sentiment to better him, as the General might say, seen as Marcellus goes through quite a lot of inner torment pretty much right from the get go, firstly having to grapple with the fact that his Father is a traitor and was executed because of it and then learning that all definitely might not indeed be what it seems in terms of a most beloved Childhood Governess of his! I instantly found myself utterly adoring Marcellus’ character and for most part found him to be quite a refreshing take on Marius’ character. I say most part, because there were moments when Alouette and Marcellus floated (not literally floated) but when they first learnt a out the other’s existence there was totally glimmers of Marius and Cosette’s insta-love type wide eyes for one another and of of course I was all for it! I’m a slight hopeless sap, as I’ve always adored them together so naturally I just couldn’t wait to see how their story would twins together! Also, given the magnitude of the cliffhanger, I’m absolutely looking forward to this all the more! So much was revealed towards the penultimate conclusion of this first installment in the System Divine series, oh I just cannot wait to read Between Burning Worlds!

Throughout Sky Without Stars, as much as I found myself feeling for Marcellus as he grappled on, I found myself feeling sadder for Chatine. From the beginning of this book I could feel her desperation and determination to leave the slum-like streets and start a new future, a new life. She never felt love from her parents and always nursed a heartache for the supposed murder of her beloved baby brother Henri, who was dropped on his head *cough* by a visiting young girl, Madeline, who was seeking shelter until a man came and purchased her away from Chatine’s family and fled!

I wonder, dear readers, does this latter reveal ring a bell? Oh but truthfully, there was just so much that I found I was looking forward to being revealed throughout this book and oh those moments so did not disappoint! From Alouette learning more about the significance behind those five numbers embedded on her beloved Father’s skin…

Yes friends, you guessed it…

I slightly digress though, let’s steer this babble of a review right on back to Chatine. She’s got quite a substantial chunk of page time with Marcellus, which I found I thoroughly enjoyed! It was absolutely glorious reading about how one another slowly were forming a friendship, with Marcellus even being slightly protective towards this street rat who’d guide him through the dark depths of the slum type streets, as he tries to find out more about the rebellion bubbling…

However, as Chatine is undertaking her secret mission from that wretch of a General, she finds she can’t exactly let it be known that she’s female, so she keeps up the alias Theo when with Marcellus and oh the fact that he didn’t see through this for aaages was so frustrating! Like, he pinpointed that something was askew with her but didn’t know what, it was just at this point I found him to be so lovingly dim! Meanwhile, Chatine can’t ignore the quell in her heart that brews as she starts to find herself enjoying his company and growing find of Marcellus, which only really made subsequent reveals sting as Chatine slowly and poignantly started to fit Eponine’s mould more and more! Ooft, it still hurts really! However, given what ultimately happened to her character at the end of Sky Without Stars, I definitely find myself looking forward to a much delayed but eagerly anticipated reunion with Marcellus, though I’m sure that will not be without its heart-wrenching moments!

Aloutte’s story was really fascinating too, I loved how she was training to be a Sister, one of the young Women who looked after the Underground Library, helping to preserve the written word! She held so, so much significance throughout this book, so much more than I didn’t even envision! I absolutely adored her parallels to Les Miserables’ Cosette and found her bond with Hugo to be almost as poignant as Cosette’s bond with Jean Valjean!

Not wanting to give too much away here but my fellow Les Mis enthusiasts will indeed know Cosette and Valjean have a tearful farewell, let’s just say Hugo and Alouette had me quite emotional throughout, especially as I wasn’t sure what might come next! Really hoping for a reunion between them in book two!

Overall, I definitely loved every moment of this fabulous, refreshing and completely engaging Les Miserables retelling! I definitely recommend picking up a copy and will be thinking about it for plenty of time yet, I listened to the soundtrack as I read so I’m sure I’ll think of Alouette, Marcellus and Chatine when I next listen! I’m so, so excited to read Between Burning Worlds to see what will come next! I mean, I even procrastinated finishing Sky Without Stars for fear of a monster cliffhanger!

Was my fear confounded? Well, why not pick up a copy and find out? 😉

Happy Reading,


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