In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.
A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.
When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.
But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.
This was the best science fiction novel I have read in a long time. I was absolutely captivated from the first page. The interplay of mystery and the oppressive dystopian feel of future Earth, combined with the grandeur of the open stars above them and the lush descriptions of the planet Adrye, wove a spell as powerful as the music and dance of the Artists. Mary Fan does a magnificent job entwining fantastical science fiction elements into a story about art, and particularly about the self-doubt of an artist striving to become a professional can feel. This was by far the best YA sci-fi I've read since THE BODY ELECTRIC, and it completely reignited my love for the genre.
Starswept is a dark and dangerous tale of secrets and intrigue brightened by one young woman’s passion for music—a passion strong enough to bring two star-crossed lovers together against all odds. Romance, music, and intergalactic conspiracies make this a fascinating coming-of-age story quite unlike anything I’ve ever read.
STARSWEPT is a unique vision, presented in a unique way, which captures all the contradictions of the creative process in one rollercoaster ride of a story... Let me assure you: STARSWEPT is a hell of a novel.