Deluxe edition with special embellishments on first printing only In this "slow-burning, atmospheric romance" (Publishers Weekly) from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, an illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars' message that will, hopefully, save them all. When all is lost, look to the stars. Vega has lived in the valley her whole life--forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But when Vega sees an omen in the sky--one she cannot ignore--she is forced to leave the protective boundaries of the valley for the first time. Yet the outside world is much more terrifying than Vega could have ever imagined. People are gravely sick--they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives. But Vega has a secret: she is the Last Astronomer--a title carried from generation to generation--and she is the only one who understands the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to a cure. So when locals spot the tattoo on Vega's neck in the shape of a constellation--the mark of an astronomer--chaos erupts. Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos. On the run from the men hunting her, Vega sets out across the plains with Cricket and Noah, in search of a fabled cure kept secret by the astronomers. But as the line between friends and protectors begins to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomers...or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.
- ISBN-13: 9781665900249
- ISBN-10: 1665900245
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: November 2022
- Dimensions: 8.2 x 6 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.08 pounds
- Page Count: 400
- Reading Level: Ages 13-17
Vega is a girl with stars on her skin. Her mother created the tattoos when Vega was small, knowing that one day she would take up the mantle of the last Astronomer. Vega has never left their valley and knows only the safety of her mother’s cottage. But her mother is dying from a sickness that has claimed much of the world’s population, and twin stars have appeared in the sky, signifying that Vega must fulfill her duty: to find the Architect and go to the sea.
Vega is unprepared for the dusty, desperate world outside the valley, where branded men called Theorists hunt her mercilessly, believing she holds the key to a cure for the sickness. She is rescued by a girl named Cricket, who leads her to Noah, a mysterious, secretive boy with green eyes. Together, the three of them set off across the desert, guided by ancient stories and starlight. But as the twin stars move along their orbital path, Vega knows that time is running low.
A Wilderness of Stars is an atmospheric adventure romance that pulls from a constellation of genres as author Shea Ernshaw crafts a world that seems both familiar and alien. Full of ghost towns and outlaws, much of the setting feels straight out of a Western, but without the identifiable geography of the American West. Ernshaw employs a similar tactic with the novel’s temporal scope, giving enough clues to place the story in a far-off future where our current technologies are considered ancient myths, but no real specifics about when the story takes place.
Ernshaw’s narrative relies on intentional ambiguity and the slow unspooling of secrets, which is sometimes effective and other times frustrating. Many characters hold their cards close to their chests, and as a consequence, Ernshaw often writes around plot points rather than through them. Although her writing can be dense, readers who appreciate a focus on romance will enjoy the time she spends lavishing Vega and Noah’s love story with florid prose.
Overall, A Wilderness of Stars will delight readers who love soft science fiction, measured reveals and romances that are written in the stars.