Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Star’s End

By Cassandra Rose Clarke

Sci-Fi

 

Esme Coromina has always known that one day, she would run the Four Sisters, the small planet system that her father grew into a corporate empire. Raised as the pampered heir to the company, Esme lived the best years of her life at Star’s End, the estate her father built on the terraformed moon where he began his empire. In the tropical sunlight and lush gardens, Esme helped raise her three motherless half-sisters. But as Esme is groomed to take over the family business of manufacturing weapons for the mercenary groups spread across the galaxy, she slowly uncovers the sinister truth at the heart of her father’s company. And when those secrets are finally revealed, Esme is sure that she’s lost her sisters—and a part of her soul—for good.

Now, after a lifetime of following her father’s orders, Esme has a second chance. For the first time, Esme is making her own decisions and the impact of her decisions will reverberate throughout the Four Sisters. As Esme struggles to assemble her estranged sisters for one last good-bye with their dying father, she has to choose whether she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps—or blaze a daring new path.

 

It took me awhile to finish this book. The world building is stunning and it’s well written, with an interesting narration choice. There aren’t chapters, but the book alternates between a third person limited present storyline, following Esme’s current mission to find her sisters and a first person past storyline following Esme throughout her young adult years. The past portion on the book really dragged for me, I was much more interested in what present day Esme was up to than her growing up in Star’s End. Despite the back cover synopsis, the only way Esme helps to raise her sisters is telling the fleet of nannies and tutors to keep an eye on them while she’s off doing her company internship.

I could not find it in me to care about Esme. The Coromina family owns four planets. They literally make trillions of dollars a year manufacturing bioengineered soldiers and weapons to equip those soldiers. The ‘company’ is a government system called coporcracy and Esme’s father is the current ruler/CEO. People who live on the four planets are called citizen-employees. This is capitalism at full throttle. Everyone and everything on the four planets exists solely to fuel the weapons manufacture and to add to the upper echelon’s wealth. There’s a hefty dose of Big Brother as well, of course. Media is strictly monitored, business espionage is the norm, and the CEO often has troublesome people ‘relocated’.

So there’s a lot going on and in the middle of it is Esme and I wouldn’t say I hated her, but I disliked her immensely. She’s a coward and despite what the ending tries to spin, she is just like her father in terms of power ambition. She only on two occasions finds her spine and stands up to her father, but those moments are quickly over and she goes back to doing everything her father asks.

Her father is Exhibit A for sociopath. He doesn’t care about anything but his wealth and status. There are a few moments in there where Esme thinks she sees something else in him, but I chalk that up to an unreliable narrator ploy. The dude is an AssHole.

This book is 432 pages of things happening to Esme. She’s never proactive and most of the book is her waiting to be summoned or waiting for the other shoe to drop. She spends a lot of time slumping against chairs, sitting on beds, headaches from too many thoughts, and sleepless nights. The only reason this story exists is because her father sets her out to collect her estranged sisters. She wasn’t going to do it on her own.

She also spends the entirety of the book afraid. Honestly, her entire narration is dictated by fear. Fear of her father, fear she’s becoming like her father, fear for her sisters, fear of her sisters, fear for her mother, fear she’s going to do/say the wrong thing. The list goes on and it never ends. I can’t tell if Esme is supposed to be a sympathetic character or an unlikeable character. All those fears would make sense if this was a YA, but Esme is in her forties. At this point it’s Learned Helplessness and I have no time or sympathy for it. She has the emotional depth and fortitude of a wet tissue.

The characters of this book never fully come to life Esme, with all her cowering, is the most well rounded of them all. Her sisters are plot devices on Esme’s convoluted journey to redemption, her closest friend, a bioengineered soldier named Will, is another plot device whose only purpose is to help her find her sisters. Her father is the evils of capitalism personified. It gets tedious, especially since Esme does little more than fret about everything.

The ending of the book, I think, is supposed to have an A Tree Grows in Brooklyn vibe; not happy, but hopeful, but it falls a little flat. Esme may not have her father’s cruelty, but she still wants the power being CEO/ruler affords her. She promises to only use her powers for good and she’s going to help people and blah, blah, blah. But the whole thing reads like those ridiculous accounts of ‘good’ slave owners. Yeah, so some of them didn’t flay children, but they still had slaves. Yeah, Esme wants to change the company’s focus, but she’s still keeping a system in place that has proven to be easily corrupted, abused, and refers to its citizens as employees and property.

I can’t say I’d recommend Star’s End. As a dystopic system of government, it’s awesome, but the main character, Esme, has little to enjoy and can make getting through some places a chore. But if you’d like to give it a try, you can find it here:

Amazon

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Learn more about the author Cassandra Rose Clarke

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Adventures of Aria: Necromancing the Snow

Currently Playing: Black Veil Brides, Devil’s Choir (on repeat)

I have finished my second manuscript—the first that will see the light of day—and as I re-read it for the hundredth time I’m still stunned that I actually wrote these pages. I can’t believe I sat in Cathy Day’s (http://cathyday.com/) novel writing class a year and a half ago and, from the depths of my mind, created these characters and the world of Tiger, Tiger.

I. Cannot. Believe. It.

It’s far from being perfect, every read through I find something that could still use more polishing and tinkering, but at this point every time I try to fix it I make it worse. And if I learned nothing else through four and a half years of college writing courses, author interviews, and literary agent blog posts it’s that this is actually a good thing. I’ve reached the limits of my current skills and it’s time to ask someone else to lend their talents and skills to this manuscript.

You know, writers like to think the blank page is scary, but the terrifying part has only just begun. After months of writing, editing, crying, screaming, and moping it’s time to send my baby out into the world. The query letters are written, months of combing through agents via social networking and google searches have finally come to a head. I can’t put it off any longer. If I want even a chance of making some kind of living off my imagination, other eyes must see it. Fortune favors the bold, right?
I haven’t slept more than three or four hours a night since I wrote my first query. I’ve gone over those eight letters four and five times, re-read the submission guidelines, picked up every book I could get my hands on that felt like it fit with the world and characters I created.

I Am Terrified.

I know agents aren’t big scary creatures. I talk to them on twitter and I’ve met a few at the Midwest Writers Conference (http://www.midwestwriters.org/). They’re good people who love reading and writing just as much as I do, hence their occupation.

I’ve been telling myself for a year to brace for form rejections and, really, I thought I was ready. But now the time is here to send my manuscript into the world, as prepared as my beta readers and I can make it, and I’m not ready at all for that rejection. I could cry just thinking about it.

All those pesky “what-ifs” I could shoo away while immersed in the world are now coming up hard and fast. It’s time to take a critical business eye to my work; is it saleable? What audience am I aiming for? What genre? What sub-genre? Are these first ten pages good enough to hook?

A lot of the agent profiles I looked at said they were looking for “excellent” writing, “wonderful” worlds, “endearing and complex” characters. Their Bestsellers are listed, their authors and all their awards are proudly displayed.

And then there’s me.

This is my first novel. I don’t have any awards. The only things I’ve submitted were three poems to Ball State’s Broken Plate magazine and received a polite form rejection for all of them. Is my writing excellent? Is my world developed enough? Are there too many details? Not enough? Does my character properly show off her many sides or is she only one dimension?

I don’t know if I have the ego to handle eight and more form rejections for something I’ve spent two years pouring blood, sweat, and tears into.

The Sound of Madness: The Beginning

 

            It being the start of Camp NaNo, I thought I’d really kick this blog off with what I’ll be occupying myself with this month. I’ve spent several months, even years, with the idea percolating in the back of my mind; there are scraps of paper with random words and short phrases jotted on them scattered in journals and drawers, and when I look out my window I see the characters on the street.

Now, either it’s time for medication or it’s time to write.

Music is a part of who I am. I’m always listening to something while I type. A lot of people use background music, this isn’t something new. This has never had much of an impact on my writing; it’s just something to occupy my mind when I hit a snag or to block out background noise or a way to set the mood for a scene. But this manuscript, this storyline, these characters; they’ve proven to be quite different from anything I’ve ever written.

The story wriggled its way into my head after I got Black Veil Brides’ album Set the World on Fire. Track number six has become something almost sacred to me. It’s the song that hit the top of my “Songs that will get me Fired” playlist for work. It’s the song that gave me the courage to flip my major from anthropology to creative writing my final two semesters of college. It’s the song that told me to look beyond this dying town and go. If you’re a fan, you’re probably humming the chorus by now, if not; the song is called “Rebel Love Song”.

This song is freedom. I can’t fully express the buoyant joy the chorus fills me with, the teeth-grit determination the verses give me and the inexplicable feeling of flying I get when that guitar solo kicks in. And it’s that whirlwind of emotion, that impact that goes deeper than skin when you hear the words, that my newest manuscript is built on and why it’s working title is Rebel Love Song.

I’m writing my character to embody these songs that—through my own hectic life—have become pep talks, shoulders to cry on, hands to pull me up, and a friend to sit with me when I start to break.

I have tailored a song list to fit this storyline. Every section, every chapter, right down to the paragraphs; correlates with a song. And I hope I can find the words to do these songs and these feelings justice.

 

P.S. It’s not too late to join Camp NaNo this month! You can sign up at www.nanowrimo.org or www.campnanowrimo.org. You can find me there as Writing_Fiend. Happy Writing!