Format: E-Book, 432 pages
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction
Olivia A. Cole blends a richly imagined world, fantastical creatures, family secrets, and a simmering romance in her cinematic sci-fi/fantasy YA debut, perfect for fans of Amie Kaufman and Pierce Brown.
Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
A Conspiracy of Stars, by author Olivia A. Cole, is the first installment in the authors untitled duology. This is a work of pure science fiction/fantasy set on a planet called Faloiv where 40 years ago, a group of humans, including the protagonists own grandparents, left the Origin Planet for a new beginning. They ended crash landing on Faloiv and have been here ever since. They built a place called N'Terra to study and experiment on the local fauna and animal life. They built places like the Mammalian, Avian, Amphibian, and Aquatic compounds to continue their research.
A entire generation has been born on the planet, including 16-year old Octavia English, the main protagonist of the story. Octavia and the rest of the human population lives in a place that was never meant to support human life. The plant life, the environment, and the animals are all dangerous to human life. For most of the story, readers won't see much of the outside world, but when we do, we get a glimpse of a place that is both dangerous and as beautiful as the authors imagination.
The story focuses mainly on the settlement that Octavia lives in, N’Terra, and the various areas of study available to those called green coats, children of the white coats, who are now allowed to participate in guided internships. N’Terra is divided into sections depending on what job people have and what the scientists in each section are studying. As the daughter of two council members, Octavia has had access to each of the compounds, unlike her fellow students. Octavia strives to become a whitecoat (think scientist) just like her parents.
After learning that she has the ability to hear things no one else can hear, and get a sense of things that nobody else can sense, Olivia learns that things are not as peaceful as they appear. She and her friends Alma and Rondo discover that the Council has been breaking their agreement with the Faloii, which has brought them to the brink of war. Olivia and friends find out that things are even more dangerous now than they were 40 years ago when their parents and grandparents crash landed on the planet and made an agreement with the Faloii.
Led by the diabolical leader of the Council and Olivia's own father, humans are rushing forward with a human first mentality that has torn everything that Olivia thought about to pieces. She sees her parents in a different light. She sees her internship as a way to dive into the darkest secrets of the council, and finds that she may have created her own unique alliance with the local Faloii after one of their own is captured, which has brought the two factions towards an all-out war.
One could say that A Conspiracy of Stars is a classic story about invaders vs. indigenous peoples. It is a story that examines the dangers and destruction of colonialism and the importance of empathy in the face of the unknown. The author has created some very interesting wild creatures. The animals span the gambit from being cuddly and cute, to being downright terrifying and nightmarish in nature. In the end, Cole has created a vivid and cinematic world as well as an action-packed plot that has plenty of twists and turns. It's a story about family secrets and betrayals, and it contains a slow-burning romance which doesn't take anything away from the story itself.
This book was originally sold as "The Whitecoat's Daughter" but was changed to A Conspiracy of Stars somewhere between when it was purchased by the publisher and when it was placed in the HarperCollins catalog. It has one of the more diverse casts you will find in this genre with every single character being non-white. I do look forward to the sequel since the ending leaves a whole lot of curiosity to explore.