A teenage girl emerges from wallflower status only to be plagued by unexplained phenomena in this young-adult romance novel.
Anna Stuart lives in a quiet town with her widowed mother and younger brother. In her final year of high school, she finds herself with only one friend and her passion for science to keep her company. Her life takes a sharp turn when the once-innocuous pattern of freckles on her arm begins to itch and change, a perfect replication of the constellation Pleiades becoming more and more pronounced. Next, a shadow man almost certainly trying to kill her begins appearing at the foot of her bed. As Anna tries to keep these developments under wraps, her longtime crush, quarterback Steve McCormick, enlists her as his physics tutor, shifting her focus entirely onto him and his glamorous lifestyle. Everything seems to be going her way until she overhears some gut-wrenching gossip about Steve at the mall. Suddenly wary of her new friends, she buries herself in her after-school astronomy club, finding solace in a new paramour from a neighboring school. Just as she regains control of her life, the freckles on her arm begin to transform again, the shadow man begins appearing in daylight, and uncontrollable visions of a seaside observatory and a man with startling blue eyes begin to haunt her. All the new attention she garners comes to a head as her love interests reveal their true selves, and Anna finally unravels the shocking connection between herself and the stars. Though debut author Riley writes realistic teenage emotions, Anna’s remarkable aptitude for science is her one defining quality, and it gets lost quickly. Written with an uneven level of detail, each tense encounter with a love interest glows, while the darker, metaphysical elements recede. The novel will hit the mark for readers who prefer blossoming love stories to the high-stakes, plot-driven books popular with teens today.
The protagonist mooning over boys sometimes overwhelms the engaging, unique sci-fi elements.