Review: Beneath the Guarding Stars by Everly Frost

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Published: November 4th, 2016 by Ever Realm Books  | Series: Book 2 in Mortality Series | Length: 262 pages | Genre: YA, sci-fi, dystopian | Source: Received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review | Possible Triggers/Problems: Use of offensive terms re: mental illness (no longer an issue; see below)

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Summary from Goodreads:

Fear is quiet. It waits. It waits for me.

Ava and Michael have fought their way to Starsgard, but crossing the border comes with a price and their home country is ravaged by fear and hatred of mortals. They soon discover that peace is an illusion and danger is closer than they feared.

In a world where nobody can be killed, one girl will change it all.

This review contains spoilers for the first book in the series, Beyond the Ever Reach.

Back in April, I read the first book in this series under its original name, Fear My Mortality, and absolutely adored the book (it’s since been re-published as Beyond the Ever Reach). It ended up being one of my favorite books of 2016. So when Everly Frost contacted me asking if I’d like to review the second book, Beneath the Guarding Stars, I was super excited. Thank you again, Everly!

This book picks up exactly where the last book left off. I like when sequels start at the exact moment the last book ended simply because it means I don’t miss anything in a time jump. The downside though is that there’s not really any “recap” so if it’s been awhile since you read the previous book, it may take a little bit for you to remember what’s happening. With that said, Frost threw in some reminders of what had been happening throughout the first couple of chapters so this wasn’t much of a problem for me.

I found the first third or so to be a bit slow, but I didn’t really mind. It gave me time to get reacquainted with the characters and story without missing a bunch of the action. Once I got through the beginning, though, the action that I came to love in the first book reappeared and made it impossible to put this down. I loved seeing Ava try to navigate her new surroundings, unsure of whether or not she was truly safe and could trust the people who were supposedly trying to help her, and continue to struggle with accepting herself and figuring out where/if she belongs in her world.

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That brings me to another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed: Ava is completely unsure of whether or not she can trust the people around her. She’s in a place that is supposed to be accepting of her mortality, but she’s not sure if everyone is really as accepting as they say. So on top of trying to keep herself alive in a world full of people who regenerate when they’re hurt, she also has to be careful of who she lets into her life and what she reveals to the people she knows. We obviously meet quite a few new people and I found myself just as confused as Ava was, trying to figure out who was really trustworthy.

We also got to learn more about characters introduced in the first novel, including Ava’s brother, Josh, who was also mortal and died. This was really interesting because we got to see how much Josh knew about everything that’s currently affecting Ava’s life. I won’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything, but it gave me a new appreciation for a character that I had previously felt was kind of irrelevant and uninteresting (sorry, Josh).

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One small thing that’s worth mentioning is the casual use of offensive terms like “crazy.” They were used only a couple of times, but I think it’s still worth pointing out since there are many readers who could be offended or upset by the terms. Edit 1/22: The author has reached out to me and let me know that after seeing me point this out, she’s removed any instance of her using that word in both the Kindle and paperback versions of the book and the changes should be reflected soon.

Beneath the Guarding Stars is a great continuation of everything I loved about Beyond the Ever Reach. With plenty of action and political intrigue, I was thoroughly entertained. If you read and enjoyed the first book, I think you’ll love book 2 just as much. (If you haven’t read the first book, PLEASE READ IT.) I can’t wait to read book 3, By the Icy Wild, and see where Ava’s story takes her (especially after that ending)!


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