And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst

I have been hearing good things about Andrea K. Höst’s books for a while now. I’ve been curious about And All the Stars, particularly, because it’s a standalone. My friend Estara was generous enough to send me a Kindle edition as a gift a few months ago and I downloaded it right away. Now I’m not a big fan of science fiction – I rarely venture into that genre and would only do so if a book comes highly recommended by someone I know. I don’t know why but I tend to get confused by the details in sci-fi (while I don’t have that kind of problem with fantasy novels). I was in the mood for something different so I decided to give And All the Stars a try last week.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

And All the StarsCome for the apocalypse.
Stay for cupcakes.
Die for love.

Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.

None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.

Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.

It would be very difficult to talk about And All the Stars without giving away minor spoilers but I’ll do the best that I can. I really enjoyed reading this because of the surprising twists and turns so I wouldn’t want to ruin other readers’ experience by bringing up spoilery details. The story is set in present day (or not too far into the future) Sydney, where strange spires suddenly shoot up in the middle of well-populated cities all over the world. The spires spray an unknown dust-like substance that produces a cloud of haze. No one knows what the effect of the dust is on living things and I was wondering right along with the characters. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long as the story unfolded quickly. I have to be honest, I did have a hard time getting into And All the Stars at the start – I found it a bit difficult to picture the opening scene. I had to pause and try to figure out what was being portrayed. And that happened several times throughout the book, I would be thrown out of the story for a short while because of difficulties in imagining the scene. I didn’t let it bother me all that much and I would like to be clear that I ended up really enjoying the book as a whole. It may be a minor thing but I really liked that Manila was mentioned in this one because that rarely happens:

And All the Stars Manila excerpt

Other major cities were mentioned as well, emphasizing that what’s happening in Sydney is also taking place on a global scale. Aside from that, there’s also a pretty diverse set of characters within the story. I could relate to that because of where I live now (Singapore), which can be considered a cultural melting pot. Madeleine is a likable heroine, so devoted to her art that everything else fades away while she’s drawing or painting. While I’ve never had that kind of artistic talent, I enjoyed reading about it. Another aspect of the story that I enjoyed was how at its core, And All the Stars is about friendship and people getting together to help each other in the midst of a crisis. Of course, I’m also a big fan of stories that surprise me and this one did. There was a scene that made me stop and say, “Wait, what?” and then I just wanted to finish reading this as soon as I could. Plus there was a slow burn romance that I could totally root for, one that is much more complicated that I initially expected, making it all the more swoon-worthy. I also liked that this is a short standalone (the paperback edition says it has 204 pages) and is a perfect sample of the author’s writing. Can’t wait to try the rest of her novels. Highly recommended for fans of unusual YA. Like I said, I’m not a big sci-fi reader so you don’t have to be one to appreciate And All the Stars.

Other reviews:
Bunbury in the Stacks
The Book Smugglers
Book Daze

20 thoughts on “And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst

    • It’s pretty easy to pinpoint what part in the book that is. 😛 Have you read all of her books? I have Stray on my Kindle, the first Touchstone novel, so that’s the next one of hers that I will check out.

      • Touchstone and this are her YA science fantasy work so far; the rest of her work is secondary world fantasy, and mostly has grown up heroines – although Hunting has a YA heroine.

      • I’ve read And All The Stars, the Touchstone trilogy, and the Medair duology — but not Hunting, Stained Glass Monsters, or Champion of the Rose. They’re all on my Kindle, though. Those latter two have sequels coming out this year or next, and I’ll read them when those sequels hit the shelves. Because I HATE WAITING.

        And, yes, I was surprised several times in And All the Stars, but WHOA no one is going to see THAT coming.

      • I know, I hate waiting for sequels as well. I’ve gotten used to it though, I just distract myself with other books. Good thing I still have to go through Touchstone and Medair (and those series are complete) before the others you mentioned.

  1. I have this one in my pile…I even bought it for myself ages ago…but buying a book actually seems to be a curse of doom for not actually reading it, because there is no pressure sigh sigh

    • Haha I know exactly what you mean. I keep staring at the bookshelf that I have in my room because there are just way too many unread books in there. I guess the pressure can come from other readers waiting to hear what you think of it? Because I’m curious if you’ll enjoy this one too.

  2. I agree with you on scifi – fantasy is my favorite genre so obviously I don’t have problems reading about worlds/settings that are different from our own. But something about scifi – the more scientific aspects, perhaps – make it much harder for me to really get into those types of books. I’m glad to hear that you think this is a more accessible work of scifi. I bought it on my Kindle back when it was on sale and have been meaning to read it for a while now. I can’t wait to start it! Lovely review!

    • I’m a fantasy reader as well, I don’t have problems sinking into make believe worlds but I have that issue with sci-fi novels. But I really make exceptions for titles that are highly recommended, such as Ender’s Game, which I ended up loving. And All the Stars is fairly easy to get into so I hope you won’t have trouble being absorbed into the world. Hope you get to read it soon. 😀

  3. Thanks for the link back! I’m glad your first AKH novel worked for you. I agree the opening scene was a bit disorientating, but I went with the flow – figured that was how Madeleine felt anyway…

    FWIW, if you like fantasy, I’ve loved all her other fantasy novels – though like Estara, her Touchstone trilogy really worked for me as well. Umm… yeah, I just really like her writing.


    • Oh Li, good to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling confused by the opening scene. I just went along with the story as well and didn’t let it bother me.

      Thanks for letting me know about how you felt about her fantasy novels, makes me more curious about them. At the rate that I’m going, I’m just happy that I got to read one of her books before the year is over.

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