The Premise: Seren and Dom have fled their old lives on board spaceship Ventura in order to be together. They crash-land on a beautiful, uninhabited planet, which at first seems like paradise.
There is no one to answer to … but no one to ask for help. And with each new day comes the realisation of how vulnerable they truly are.
This planet has secrets – lots of them. Uncovering them could be the key to survival, but at what cost?
Thoughts: I loved The Loneliness of Distant Beings, the first book in the Ventura saga, for its spaceship-setting and the strange and prescriptive society Kate Ling created for her characters to rail against. With Soren and Dom escaping Ventura at the end of the first book, I was concerned that there was no way to follow up all that drama and excitement, especially with the shift in setting away from the ship (I have a weird obsession with books set on spaceships). There was no need to worry.
In The Glow of Fallen Stars, Ling has created the perfect follow-up; having landed on the planet of Huxley-3, Seren, Dom, Ezra and Mariana find themselves in a vastly different and unpredictable environment, with danger lurking, in the form of hunger, exposure and freaky-assed coral, among other hazards. There are brilliant shifts in atmosphere in the early chapters, with Seren and Dom struggling to maintain their romance when survival is their main concern, and a planet that seems out to get them. It all seems cosy for about 10 seconds, then things get crazy. It’s really impressive that Ling manages to sustain the reader’s interest even when the sci-fi stuff moves into the background; ordinarily, teenagers having dramatic arguments about illicit kisses and tattoos would have me rolling my eyes, but, here, it effectively shows how young and ill-prepared Seren and Dom are for the huge commitment they’ve made. I wouldn’t necessarily want to sit near them on public transport, but I do care about them as a couple. Not as much as I care about Ezra, I’ll admit. He is a dude.
In Conclusion: The Glow of Fallen Stars brilliantly develops in the second half, with big twists and reveals, leading to an exciting climax. There’s no sense of second book syndrome; at no point does it feel like a filler between a dramatic start to a series and a tempestuous end. I am so pleased that Kate Ling has continued to alarm and surprise her readers in this second book and now I really want the next one…