A post-apocalyptic vision from Australia.
Seventeen-year-old dreadlocked Star and her older sister, Nene, a medic and the closest thing she’s got to a parent, are part of a nomadic group of travelers and traders enduring hard lives and journeys across the Sand Road, traversing a desert overrun with vestiges of rogue semi-sentient machinery and other monsters from a time and war long past. When their 13-wagon caravan witnesses a relic Angel satellite crash to Earth, a chain of events is set into motion that launches Star on a voyage far away from the familiar life she yearns to leave—but close to discovering a secret her sister has desperately tried to protect her from. As all of this takes place, an old and powerful entity has awoken in the desert: a Lotus Blue, the deadliest of all war machines of the past and a soldier with its own agenda. Star’s journey crosses paths with various soldiers and survivors in this complex tale, and knowing whom to trust, including herself, may be the key to her survival. Sparks’ debut is ambitious and, at times, convoluted. The worldbuilding is so detailed that language borders on repetitive and tedious, and the narrative sets up a daunting array of characters, but patient readers will find it ultimately rewarding.
The epitome of a slow burn, with a drawn-out plot and leisurely pace, this jigsaw puzzle requires full attention to piece together. (Science fiction. 14 & up)