Chasing the Stars

What is there to say about this book? When you combine Malorie Blackman, Shakespeare and space, you know it’s got to be incredible.

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“What happens when love brings loss? When love brings lies? When love brings hate?

Olivia and her twin brother Aidan are heading alone back to Earth
following the virus that wiped out the rest of their crew, and their family, in its entirety.

Nathan is part of a community heading in the opposite direction.
But on their journey, Nathan’s ship is attacked and most of the community killed.
Only a few survive.

Their lives unexpectedly collided, Nathan and Olivia are instantly attracted to each other, deeply, head-over-heels – like nothing they have ever experienced.

But not everyone is pleased. Surrounded by rumours, deception, even murder, is it possible to live out a happy ever after…?”

I studied Othello at A-Level and just like Malorie, fell in love with the story. The deceit and manipulation, the love and tragedy, it was so intelligent and so ahead of its time and a story that will apply to human nature forever.

I was lucky enough to go along and hear Malorie speak at the launch of Chasing The Stars and loved hearing her talk about the process of turning Othello into her character of Vee, of omitting the narrative voice of Iago to concentrate on the two lovers – something which made the story so much more romantic and therefore so much more heart-breaking. Iago is also far more sympathetic in Malorie’s interpretation and I kind of wished he wasn’t because it just made the whole ending far more heart-breaking.

As soon as I started reading, I was piecing up which character was who – and in a way I wished I hadn’t read Othello because then it might not have been obvious to me. Having read the play, it was like reading the book when you already knew the ending (though Malorie adapts that slightly too and adds in a brilliant twist which I was never expecting). I loved seeing the story come to life again in a modern, or futuristic, setting. It just shows how timeless these stories are.

Malorie has a way of writing that really captures your heart. I adored Noughts and Crosses when I was a teenager and Chasing The Stars took me right back to that age – the beauty of falling in love for the first time, the intensity of your feelings and the vulnerability of being that emotionally involved. It made me feel warm, it made me cry and it was so incredibly romantic. But the book offers so much more than romance. It was so interesting to read what Malorie had to say about sex and about class, and throw in a few murders and tons of adventure too and you’re completely gripped from the get-go.

Malorie is one of the few authors whose stories and characters make me completely fall in love and I just cried at the end of the book and I’m not a big reading-crier. You really believe in Vee and Nate, and Aidan too. I felt so much for Aidan and their bond as brother and sister travelling alone together for so long, and without spoiling anything, I just felt so sad for them both at the end.

Malorie also manages to open your eyes to the bigger picture, to the real life occurrences which you can’t help but think of when reading about these refugees in space. It makes you think without ramming a political opinion down your throat. She did the same with Noughts and Crosses – Malorie made me consider at a very young age what it would be like if the roles were switched and I think it’s one of the best YA series of our time, or ever.

Chasing The Stars is just like that – it’s important in its message, it’s heartbreakingly romantic, funny, inspirational with a brilliant main character in Vee. She’s real and human – she may be strong and seem independent but she’s also vulnerable and makes mistakes, something that anyone reading can empathise with. You can see both her and Nate’s side to the story and see how the manipulation they go through would work, especially with such a new love.

To finish off – I just want to say how important Malorie is for diverse literature. I tried to make a list of bestselling black YA or children’s authors last week and was horrified to find I could fit the list on one hand (apologies if this is just my ignorance). Malorie is a leader, writing not only about race but about love, compassion, loss, jealousy, politics, class and fun. As a child and teen, she never saw a black character in the books she read and I’m so glad that she has changed that for our generation. I only hope there are more to come.

Chasing The Stars is published on 21st April, price £10.99 in hardback.

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