Spinning Starlight is an nicely written and easy-to-follow YA sci fi romance. The themes in the book (more than the plot) greatly reminded me of the novel These Broken Stars by Kaufman and Spooner; fans of that series will likely greatly enjoy Spinning Starlight.
Story: Liddie Jantzen is a teenage heiress socialite and the youngest in a large family of a highly talented, technology-oriented, family. Her 8 brothers are all geniuses in their own right and they all take care of their little sister. When her villa is attacked in a kidnapping attempt, she manages to escape – only to discover that all her brothers are missing. She inadvertently plays into the hands of an unseen enemy – one who imprisons her, implants a chip preventing her from saying what is happening, and then returns her to the villa. But no one counted on her brothers finding ways to help her to escape; an escape that brings her to a new planet and into the arms of a boy her age who also wants to protect her. Suddenly, there is a lot more at stake than just her family’s empire.
I hadn’t read the blurb of Spinning Starlight closely and so didn’t know it was based on the fairy tale of the Wild Swans (a girl’s brothers are turned into swans by an enemy and she must remain silent for years and sew them special shirts in order to save them). But it was clear early on that the author’s inspiration was a fairly tale – quite a bit of the story was being pounded into a specific mold in order to fit a fairy tale like structure (at first I thought Snow White, and then I thought Little Mermaid). It means that we have to suspend disbelief over plot points such as the planetary civilizations no longer using any kind of writing/language and a supposedly smart enemy who thinks implanting a ‘no talk’ chip and then returning Liddi home will keep her from trying to free her brothers. But fairy tales set in sci fi milieu are quite fun and so R.C. Lewis makes it work here.
When Liddi escapes to a different world, we have love interest Tiav waiting with open arms (and open heart) to guide her and protect her while she pretty much tells him nothing and represents a huge threat to their civilization. Sadly, it is clear early on that this will be insta luv with our unique snowflake, who has been lead to believe she’s a dud when in fact she may be the smartest of all the brilliant Jantzen clan. Tiav was very bland, lacking nuance or much interest. Pretty much, a typical Prince Charming. Similarly, the brothers were caricatures who could have used more definition and therefore their danger would have resonated more.
So, yes, this does hit a couple of cliches but I don’t think that will bother many people since the story flows easily. The technology is completely bonkers but it is easy to skim over and just enjoy Liddi’s story. There is no cliffhanger and the book ends on a good note while completing the story. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.