Goodreads Summary: Some melodies reach across the stars.
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.
My Thoughts: I recently joined Netgalley, and Starswept was my first approved book! I was immediately drawn to the beautiful cover. When I read the description, I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous. I usually stick to the fantasy side of the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre, but I was intrigued by the idea of this story. A dystopian-future performing arts school? Sign me up! From the first sentence, “They tell us not everyone deserves to matter.”, I fully bought into Fan’s future world, and the more that was revealed, the more interested I became. As a performer myself, I absolutely loved the idea of Papilio. The arts world is cut-throat enough as it is, and the heightened competition was interesting and morbidly exciting. It started off a little slow, but I was so invested in the world of Papilio that I didn’t care. The world of the Adryil was also very intriguing. Fan did an amazing job of building it and I found myself actually becoming afraid of them and the idea of their powers. She created a great, sinister environment, that made me wonder “How did things get this way?” I did find the characters a little sterile and bland, but it almost worked with the style of the story. I wish we were shown more of the depth in their relationships though. I didn’t feel the strong connection between Iris and Dámiul, and their relationship was a little too insta-love for me to fully support. However; Fan’s writing style is absolutely gorgeous, and I found myself awed by certain sentences. The ending was really exciting, fast-paced, and maybe open ended? It definitely left room for a sequel. Overall, I liked this book, and appreciated reading something really original and different. The plot and the world building made for a very enjoyable and immersive read. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the chance to read this beautiful story!