STARRED REVIEW
May 2021

Trouble in the Stars

By Sarah Prineas
Review by

As an amnesiac shape-shifter, there are a lot of things Trouble does not know. They don’t know where they came from, or why the StarLeague is hunting them down and keeps calling them a dangerous escaped criminal. But when Trouble stows away on the smuggler ship Hindsight, they make some important discoveries, including words like family, smile and home.

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As an amnesiac shape-shifter, there are a lot of things Trouble does not know. They don’t know where they came from, or why the StarLeague is hunting them down and keeps calling them a dangerous escaped criminal. They don’t know the meaning of basic concepts like cows, lunch or art. But when Trouble stows away on the smuggler ship Hindsight, they make some important discoveries, including words like family, smile and home.

In Sarah Prineas’ Trouble in the Stars, readers join Trouble and the multispecies crew of the Hindsight as they evade the StarLeague’s relentless General Smag and his warship, the Peacemaker. Hindsight’s crew initially doesn’t trust their stowaway, and Trouble spends much of the book pretending to be a human boy and concealing their shape-shifting abilities. However, amid midnight snacks with Captain Astra, strategy games with the gruff lizardian Reetha and vegetarian meals with tusked cargo manager Telly, Trouble and the crew begin to bond. As Trouble's relentlessly good nature wins everyone over, a sweet and natural family dynamic forms.

Trouble’s ability to shape-shift makes them a wonderful and entertaining narrator. They take many forms throughout the book, and each results in a new set of senses and spectrum of emotion. They evocatively describe navigating by smell while in rat form and surviving the vacuum of space in the form of a blob of goo. They’re also quick to point out the quirks of the human form, such as the way human eyes leak water when they’re miserable. Trouble’s shape-shifting also introduces unpredictability to the book’s many action scenes, as they find themselves in a range of high-stakes situations that can only be solved through the clever use of Trouble’s ability. Escapes, chases and one fantastically elaborate heist keep the plot moving at a thrilling pace.

Trouble is skeptical when Captain Astra tells them that the stars sing if you "know how to listen." But as they learn more about themself and the universe, their remarkable empathy helps them discover endless ways to listen, to see and to connect with others. Trouble in the Stars is a hilarious and heartwarming look at what it means to be human, have a home and hear the stars sing.

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Trouble in the Stars

Trouble in the Stars

By Sarah Prineas
Philomel
ISBN 9780593204283

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