I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I would recommend this for those readers: who enjoy romance more than science fiction, who are fans of “opposites attract” plots, who will not mind a mash-up of plot devices that will be familiar from movies and TV series of the last 50 years.
I am not saying the novel was bad. What I am saying is that there was nothing that will make me remember having read this book a month from now. This is why I have started keeping detailed notes of all the books I read. I now read over a hundred books each year and there are scores of plots that have nothing to recommend themselves to my memory. Star Kissed is one of these books.
I think Ford's Witchling series is proof that she has far more potential than a book like this would seem to indicate.
PLOT: The plot is a mess. It is not that it is not workable, it is that it is a mash-up of about every science-fiction movie I have seen from the last 50 years. The plot revolves around time travel to the future. That sounds a lot like Planet of the Apes. Then there is a premise about the main character, Mandy, traveling back home through a stargate. That sounds a lot like the movie and the two (or was it three?) TV shows “Stargate.” The other main character, the Naki prince Akkadi, is caught between two worlds, the human world of passion and emotion and the Naki world in which he has been raised and whose customs dictate that he deny passion and rely on clinical rationality. The blood of both worlds struggle inside of him. This is, of course, nothing less than Spock’s familiar plight in Star Trek. Also, “Naki” sounds a lot like “Na’vi” from Avatar. Finally, the story of a woman who is lost in an unfamiliar world and beset by unfamiliar forces has a very Rod Sterling Twilight Zone-esque tone.
CHARACTERS: Taken together, these fragments of classic American sci-fi pop culture might have been successful, at least in creating a novel that could be read as a kind of nostalgia. Where the novel failed in making me feel any kind of nostalgia was in its portrayal of sympathetic and interesting characters. Mandy and Akkai are neither. About 40 pages into the book, I really couldn't care if either of them would be alive by the end. I only cared moderately more if either of them were alive by the end of the book. It wasn't as if I wanted them dead--I was just not invested in either of them because I was never really given a reason to care for either of them.
For example, Mandy is a model. At the beginning of the novel, we are told that she is shallow and selfish. What we expect is a novel of growth in which she discovers that there is more to the world than herself. Although Ford tries to provide this with her narrative, I wouldn't say I was satisfied that this happens. Akkadi, unlike Mandy, is ruled by duty. What we expect from his novel of growth is that he learns that sometimes the greater duty is towards oneself. I felt that by the end of the novel, Mandy remained stubbornly self-centered while Akkadi wildly alternated between the two extremes of selflessness and selfishness, never finding a centered medium.
VERDICT: This is a quick read that relies heavily on plot devices reminiscent of popular science fiction films and TV series. The main characters and their relationship are not unbelievable, but it is this inability to rise above their fatal flaws that seems perhaps too real.