Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Synopsis: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
Hiii readers! Okay, I won’t even bother to waste time with any sort of intro so, HELLO, HUMAN. Now since that’s out of the way, trust me when I tell you that I have lots to say so let me get right into this review before I procrastinate any longer
which is inhumanly possible, since this review was due before November 1st and today is December 26 as I type this. . .Okay, I’ll review it now.
Grab your popcorn, sit back, and snicker at my hysterical tears between the funny gifs and me finishing this book in 4 hours with just a break to use the bathroom and get a drink.
First off I want to thank the INCREDIBLE PEOPLE FROM Penguin Random House for the Advanced’s Reader Copy in August.
Yes, August. If it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have the courage to ask for ARCs. This book was everything I could have ever wanted from a YA novel.
The Sun is Also a Star (I will refer to it as TSIAAS from now on) was a rollercoaster of emotions for me. You could say any regular book is a rollercoaster of emotions, but when you read one book in a single sitting, I must say it really builds up + releases the feels as you experience them all in just a couple of short hours. And we’ve gathered here to explain how exactly, the events in this book gave way to me crying at midnight about the universe and fate and Daniel and Natasha and omg I need to write this review immediately. *COUGH*
It was quite a task organizing this review in a kindly manner, so I didn’t do it. Instead, you’ll be receiving glimpses of my thoughts in the best way possible: in subheadings.
SO LET’S BEGIN.
DISCLAIMER: It is late, I’m exhausted, and I might be spouting nonsense, but trust me, I do really feel this way about The Sun is Also a Star. Happy reading.
When it comes to TSIAAS, Yoon is such a magnificent writer to the point where I won’t be critiquing characters, events, plot. . .I’ll discuss concepts, interconnected story lines, and perspective most of all. TSIAAS raised the stakes for YA reads to screw with your mind and feelings, and honestly I’m perfectly okay with that.
While I would love to keep you readers curious and in the dark, if my rigorous courses of AP US History and Honors English
which, by the way, SAVE ME have taught me anything, it’s thesis statements. So I guess I gotta give you something to work with here.
Now, while I rarely have organized structure to my reviews, I often separate my review into things done well in the book, and not-so-well. In TSIAAS, I have approx. 5 great things vs. 1 not-so-great thing. That alone should make this review somewhat concise (I hope.)
What Miss Yoon did well was incorporate diversity and educate readers, weave intricate story lines, express real characters with depth, integrate fate with its own perspective, and use parallel scenes to show character differentiation
which are always a hit with me.
With the amount of grammatically pleasing verbs I just used in that last sentence, I think I deserve a praise. I mean, what is this? A research paper? I mean, I’ll give some quotes but I am not going to do the whole quote & cite & evidence formula. JUST LET ME REVIEW HOW I WANT, cause I’ve written like 7 of those research papers since August, uh buh bye.
And the only think that didn’t blow my effing mind was the ending. More on that later.
End of Spoiler Free Section?
Diversity + Representation / ‘Real’ Characters
Of course, how could I forget the very fiber that lives and breathes my Twitter timeline? It’s a significant topic in the YA community (and beyond) and I think Nicola Yoon is one advocate of YA diversity and I’m proud to be her reader. Anyway, on the topic of diversity, TSIAAS surrounded the reader in it. Such a book submerged you in the idea of diversity, again, living and breathing as its own character in the story.
I’m actually very curious if you readers want to see my take on a diversity / representation, no, really, I am.
TSIAAS opens with Natasha, your normal angsty teenager in New York City. However, her life is turned upside down at the news her family is being deported the following morning back to Jamaica. And despite the pesky immigration officers, Tasha knows New York is her home—not Jamaica.
Fast forward, Tasha sets up an appointment with an attorney who she believes is her last hope to keeping her family in the country. On her path, however, she runs into Daniel, our alternate MC and Korean-American teen. Once these two meet, the story just unravels from there.
Now that I’ve introduced you to our characters, it is important to mention that the synopsis hooked from the moment I first laid eyes on TSIAAS. I’d never read a book about the tragedy and desperation of deportation, hell, I’ve never read a book about POC alone falling in love. And yet somehow, this book so intricately twined these two perfectly. I was not just entertained
and shattered to pieces but I was learning. I was gaining knowledge, and culture. And that is what really mattered.
Tasha and Daniel, they just felt so real, you know? The idea of immigration, deportation, cultural diffusion. . .these things aren’t as big in my life as others. But I want to know, I want to learn, and the struggles these two face exist—it’s all real. It’s great if you write fantasy, but these issues are happening now, and we can’t ignore it. The reality integrated into the story just complimented my overall thoughts of the book in a million ways.
I’m even more intrigued by the fact Nicola was inspired by her own marriage for the romance between Daniel and Natasha. It just makes their chemistry that much real. I can’t wait for Nicola’s next book, if you’re looking for incredible reads with diversity, I definitely recommend her. She may have only recently started the YA game, but she’s already revolutionized her stories with diversity.
“America’s not really a melting pot. It’s more like one of those divided metal plates with separate sections for starch, meat, and veggies” (p. 128).
AGH. I have been waiting for finally discuss this!! TSIAAS integrates the most amazing different storylines + subplots into the novel and it’s actually my favorite thing ever. Not only does TSIAAS contain Tasha and Daniel perspectives, but also the attorney that is Tasha’s last hope, his secretary, a random man in a taxi, and obscure characters like fate + destiny (more on that later.)
These multiple perspectives allowed me to experience all sorts of different views on the same subject or scene. A guy in a taxi nearly slams into Tasha? Sounds like trash, right? Well, actually, he’s mourning his dead daughter and Tasha had just reminded him of her. The attorney who was assigned to fix Tasha’s deportation issue? He told her there was nothing he could do. However, he actually spent the day with his secretary he is so desperately in love with and forgot about Natasha.
I could go on and on about the many woven storylines + subplots, but we’ll be here all day, then.
And we both don’t want that.
YA authors, take notes. I hope to see more books as creative with perspectives as TSIAAS.
Fate, Destiny, and Other Obscurities as Point of View
Building off the topic of multiple POVs, I was really intrigued by the use of fate, destiny, history, and eyes as a perspective within the story beside human beings. We think of these things as non-living, non-breathing
eyes are real, I’m using them right now but they only truly exist because we allow them, we want them to. And some people don’t, that’s okay too.
Here’s one snippet from a Fate chapter:
“Natasha is different. She believes in determinism—cause and effect. One action leads to another leads to another. Your actions determine your fate. In this way she’s not unlike Daniel.
Daniel lives in the nebulous space in between. Maybe he wasn’t meant to meet Natasha today. Maybe it was random chance after all.
Once they met, the rest of it, the love between them, was inevitable.” (p. 201).
HOW EPIC WAS THAAAT? I love love the way the fabric idea of fate +destiny is touched, torn apart, tampered with inside this book. Whether it’s serious or mockery. The contrast of Natasha’s realism to Daniel’s romanticism is a perfect fit to tamper with the idea of fate and destiny vs. cause and effect.
On a similar manner, Daniel is nearly ripped apart in TSIAAS, trying to convince Tasha of “meant to be” and “fate” and “destiny,” but she’s not amused. He is the typical pretty boy dreamer, writing poems about stars (Natasha: “You poets are obsessed with stars. Falling stars. Shooting stars. Dying stars. . .Sure, but why not more poems about the sun? The sun is also a star, and it’s our most important one” (p. 178).
AH THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU DISCOVER THE MEANING OF THE TITLE!!! Uh, well, okay, where were we? Right. . .fate.
Daniel believes that you control your own fate. Natasha is dictated by science + facts. However, as the day progresses and more misfortune is hurled his way, Daniel begins to slip in his reveries and his idea of fate and destiny derails.
“Maybe she was right. Maybe I’m just looking for someone to save me. I’m looking for someone to take me off the track to my life is on, because I don’t know how to do it myself. I’m looking to get overwhelmed by love and meant-to-be and destiny so that the decisions about my future will be out of my hands. It won’t be me defying my parents. It will be fate” (p. 235).
I hope you guys don’t mind the quotes, there is so many I tabbed and I just need someplace to spew them. He begins to wonder why humans only believe in higher power not necessarily gods when they refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. Which, of course, links back to Natasha and cause + effect.
Were Daniel and Natasha destined to meet? Or were they wrongly deceived by the cause & effect that comes with first and second chances? Who is right? Who is wrong? Am I making any sense?
See, if TSIAAS didn’t wrap my mind so tightly around obscure subjects like fate + destiny vs. the reality of cause + effect then I wouldn’t be here, spewing nonsense about these things. So, you can thank Nicola Yoon for the magnificent storytelling.
“Hearts don’t break.
It’s just another thing the poets say.
Hearts are not made
Or any material that could
Crack Into Pieces.
Hearts don’t break.
They just stop working.
An old watch from another time and no parts to fix it.
—Daniel Hyun Bae (p. 303)
Parallelism + Character Contrast
Thanks to my nonsense about fate + destiny, I’ve already touched upon the contrast of Natasha and Daniel. However, that was more focused on ideologies and realities. As they chase each other down within the bustling city of New York, the way they interpret different surroundings also contributes to their contrasting qualities.
Okay, did that not sound like it belonged on a thesis paper, or what? I swear, I’ve written way too many essays my sophomore year. AND IT’S NOT EVEN BEEN A WHOLE SEMESTER!
Now, while Gemina blew my mind with its parallelism
quite literally, actually, since it involved parallel universes and I loooove parallel universes I must say TSIAAS incorporated a fantastically mind boggling parallel scene.
Allow me to explain.
After losing each other from a fight, Daniel and Tasha race in two different directions (He leaves his parents’ shop to the building where she meets her attorney, and Natasha leaves the attorney building to Daniel’s parents’ shop, etc.) to hopefully find each other again.
That’s already introducing a cliche parallelism (I still love it though.)
But it gets even better, trust me.
Natasha, boarding the subway, notices a couple arguing in public. She thinks, Once upon a time I’m sure they were in love. Maybe they still are, but you can’t tell from looking (p. 246).
She boards the subway, and leaves without pondering anymore about it.
Next, Daniel. He exits the subway
PARALLELISM ON POINT and notices a couple—the very same—except, they’re kissing like nobody’s watching. Daniel hopes their wonderful relationship will last.
*Cue dynamite sound*
LIKE?? I didn’t expect such an intricately planned parallel scene to slam me in the face like that!
Natasha saw the couple as toxic—believes they should just cut it off before someone gets hurt. Daniel interpreted the couple’s chemistry as forever and fate and destiny and blah and he hopes things will work out between them. WHAT’S THAT? A DOUBLE MEANING? You don’t say. . .
This excellent use of parallelism was by far one of the favorite things within TSIAAS, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Unsatisfying Ending
The one thing, the one thing, the one thing I didn’t like about TSIAAS was the ending.
HUSH HUSH HUSH I’ll explain.
So, hopefully you’ve read TSIAAS so I can expand on the ending scene.
The last scene is technically the epilogue. The setting opens on a plane hurtling through the air from an unknown location to another unknown destination
I TOTALLY REALIZED LAST NIGHT AFTER REREADING HALF OF THE BOOK THAT IF NATASHA WAS TRAVELING FROM JAMAICA AND DANIEL NEW YORK CITY THEN HOW ? WHERE ? ARE THEY ON THE SAME FLIGHT ?
Anyway doesn’t matter.
Natasha is greeted by a woman who claims she saved her life long ago (I’d rather not explain that, but it had to do with another subplot and a merciful thank you and this woman decided not to commit suicide and got help) SO ANYWAY. Natasha is greeted by this woman and when Natasha introduces herself, a man says, “Natasha?” nearby and Tasha breathes, “Daniel. . .Daniel.” AND IT ENDS.
Beside the fact this isn’t a 100% original ending
Champion by Marie Lu, anyone? AND HIS NAME WAS DANIEL TOO I was rather unsatisfied at the lack of a proper transition into their life after that. Do the two of them have a lovely encounter and say sayonara after the plane lands and continue to live on? OR do they drop everything and have adorable Korean-black babies together? I’d like to imagine that. BUT IT SEEMS WE’LL NEVER KNOW, MISS YOON?
Sorry, I’ve just been thinking about this all night.
So yeah, the dropoff ending of TSIAAS is 99.999% of the reason the book is a 4.9 rating for me. (Yes, I’m pretty easy to please, have you seen my reviews?)
In the end, TSIAAS is situated in my top 3 favorite books of 2016 for sure. (That list will be finalized + posted hopefully before the year ends. . .) And while I expressed most of my thoughts above, I read TSIAAS in the matter of 4 hours, in approx. 1 sitting
does a bathroom break and trip to grab a glass of water count as a break? and I was a tangled mess afterward. I couldn’t think, eat, sleep, NADA.
While writing the review the day after would’ve contained much more sincere feelings than now—more than two months later—digging these feelings back up made me realize I need to reread this. AND I READ IT TWO MONTHS AGO. I haven’t even reread Harry Potter, and I read that in fall 2012. (Yeah. . .it’s been a while.)
But despite the tears, feels, and my heart being ripped from its chest, I must say when I think of The Sun is Also a Star . . .
Have you read TSIAAS? Tell me your thoughts below!