cover image A Conspiracy of Stars

A Conspiracy of Stars

Olivia A. Cole. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-264421-3

Cole’s slow-burning adventure, first in a planned duology, is set in a distant future in which mankind has evacuated Earth (aka the Origin Planet) and established the colony of N’Terra on the planet Faloiv after a temporary pit stop became permanent. Sixteen-year-old Octavia yearns to study the natural wonders and dangers of Faloiv, but when she develops the ability to telepathically hear the planet’s native fauna and encounters one of the reclusive, indigenous Faloii, she is inspired to investigate N’Terra’s secrets. It turns out that some of her fellow colonists are no longer interested in living in harmony with nature or playing by the Faloii’s rules, and it falls to Octavia and her friends to prevent war. Though Cole (Panther in the Hive) offers evocative descriptions of the natural landscape of Faloiv, the underlying critique of colonialism, while valuable, overshadows Octavia’s personal journey, and it takes quite some time for the story to gain momentum. It’s an intriguing series opener, but the familiarity of the setup and themes don’t give it much of a spark. Ages 13–up. Agent: Regina Brooks, Serendipity Literary. (Jan.)