The class book review: Chasing the Stars, by Malorie Blackman

6th May 2016 at 10:01
chasing the stars, malorie blackman, book review

Title: Chasing the Stars
Author: Malorie Blackman
Publisher: Doubleday Children’s Books

Teacher review

Teenager Olivia – Vee – and her twin Aidan have been alone on their ship in space since a virus wiped out their family and crew. They rescue a group of drones, including Nathan, from a war-torn moon and, despite their class differences, Vee and Nathan fall for each other. But mistrust, lies and that green-eyed monster, jealousy, look set to tear them apart.

Chasing the Stars is a thrilling murder-mystery adventure imagined around Shakespeare’s Othello that also will appeal to lovers of sci-fi. The star-crossed Romeo and Juliet romance is passionate and doomed, and I adored the Shakespearian references and quotes throughout, although these may only be picked up by older readers.

Occasionally, I felt frustrated by the characters’ inability to recognise evil intentions in others, just like Othello. Unlike Shakespeare, Blackman has given her “Iago” a convincing motivation for his acts, which is one reason I loved this book and shed a tear at the end. I initially felt that the length might be a little daunting, but the quick pace keeps the reader hooked. My only criticism – publishers please take note – is that the cover picture may discourage all but the most enlightened boys from reading the book (the proof copy cover – see the photo above – was better).

chasing the stars, malorie blackman, book review

A couple of steamy sex scenes mean that I can’t recommend the book for younger than key stage 3, but it’s great for those studying Shakespeare as it proves the 400+ year old tales are timeless (see also Mal Peet’s Exposure, where Othello is a footballer and Desdemona is a Wag). A cracking adventure.

Gill Ward is senior librarian at Fortismere School.

Pupil reviews

If Shakespeare’s Othello is as good as Chasing the Stars, then it is an amazing story. Chasing the Stars is fast-paced and hard to put down, with life-threatening moments from start to finish. The story, narrated by two people in the first person, gives you two perspectives and you can then piece the story together. It is unmissable literature.

Mimi Needham-Hewavisenti, Year 7

The blurb intrigued me – sci-fi based on Othello? How would Blackman put these two ideas together without creating a bizarre mash-up that would bring shame to Shakespeare? But Chasing the Stars is unique and well-paced, with a multitude of diverse and three-dimensional characters. The plot twists were clever and unpredictable, though Shakespeare’s tragedy was still an obvious inspiration for the book.

I was originally discouraged by the love at first sight between Vee and Nathan. It seemed fake, but I soon realised the true nature behind their relationship. It developed and changed and it became more real for the situation the characters were in. They were flawed, which made their relationship flawed also. They didn’t fix each other, although they loved each other.

I loved that all the characters had their own secrets and motives. It wasn’t just black or white, right or wrong; it was how the characters’ past experiences affected them and how they had been taught to deal with the results of that. This made all the characters believable and created a story that I genuinely wanted to keep reading, as I had no idea how the characters’ true ideologies would unfold.

The storyline had me covering the text below with my hand, scared I would reveal a spoiler by accidentally flicking my eyes a few paragraphs ahead because I couldn’t contain myself! It is gripping and emotional – a definite recommendation to anyone who likes action, aliens and developed characters. Malorie Blackman knew what she was doing when she wrote this book, and I excitedly await a sequel.

Tallulah Knowles, Year 9

Overall, I think this book is fantastic and should definitely be read with passion and care. It is one of Malorie’s best books so far. I certainly hope there are more like it and that more people will read her books.

Ra’eesah Mahmood, Year 7

Just like Vee, some “tears may have escaped and slipped down my cheeks, but I had a smile on my lips” as I finished reading Chasing the Stars. It’s a thrilling and engaging mystery, filled with plot twists and colourful characters. It kept me second-guessing everything I already knew.

Malorie Blackman can always be trusted to create characters you really care about. The main character, Vee, is a strong willed teenage orphan, very used to fending for herself. I really felt sympathy for her and her struggle to adjust to living with other people. The character Nathan is naïve and sees everything in black and white, which is a major flaw. As a reader, you know this is going to cause problems between him and Vee, but you have no way of foreseeing how bad these problems will be.

What I liked about Chasing the Stars was that Vee’s struggle for acceptance reminded me in many ways of Callum’s in Noughts and Crosses. It’s a brilliant read – it made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me want to read a sequel.

Amelia Bielby, Year 7

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