All the Stars and Teeth / Adalyn Grace / Review

 All the Stars and Teeth

Blurb

Eighteen-year-old Amora Montara is the princess of Visidia, an island nation full of magic, pirates, and bioluminescence. Each island of Visidia has its own unique magic ranging from enchantments to curses, and as heir to the throne, Amora is also heir to the rarest and most powerful type of magic: soul magic. On her eighteenth birthday, the princess must prove her magic and her worth to her people in a public celebration, but when her performance goes awry, Amora finds herself on the run instead, accompanied by a mysterious pirate, a sullen mermaid, and her passionate (though unwanted) soon-to-be fiancé. Off her home island for the first time in her life, Amora quickly discovers that she doesn't know as much about her kingdom as she thought she did. Secrets abound, and rebellion stirs beneath the waves.

Pros

  • Vivid Worldbuilding: Adalyn Grace spares no expense in building the vivid and compelling islands of Visidia, whether they are alight with bioluminescence or crumbling in the aftermath of a terrible storm. The descriptions are bright and evocative, embracing the glitter and enchantment that can make fantasy so enticing. With much of modern fantasy veering toward "gritty realism" today, an author who unapologetically renders a world so fantastically animated and dramatic is refreshing.  

  • Unique Character Relationships: Though All the Stars and Teeth starts out with the somewhat typical girl-and-two-boys setup of a lot of young adult novels, the bond between this initial crew resists the love triangle formula. There is no head-over-heels infatuation. There is no "insta-love." And when Grace introduces another female character to the mix, this addition doesn't fall into the role of rival--far from it. Though Grace certainly plays with romance and has her pirate ship crew flirt with the stock characters of the young-adult universe, her characters nonetheless break the mold.

  • Fills an Adventure Void: There are a lot of young adult books in this world. There are a lot of young adult fantasies. But young adult adventure fantasies (or young adult adventure books of any kind) are few and far between. Sea-voyaging, dashing pirates, and sword-fighting with rapiers: a swashbuckling book of mermaids and magic fills a void in my young adult library--a void I didn't quite recognize until I read All the Stars and Teeth. 

Cons

  • Limited Vocabulary: Though I have praised (and will continue to praise) Grace's worldbuilding, there were times where I wanted more than what the page had to offer. I felt that Grace's writing fell from evocative into merely descriptive when I most wanted a deep immersion into the setting. There is a certain mental picture dredged up when Amora's home island of Arida is described as "bioluminescent," but this picture could have been better if not left at that. Grace's adjectives are strong, but sometimes these adjectives aren't enough to hold the image. Sometimes these adjectives act as a crutch, a way to quickly summarize a setting before getting into the action. Aside from an over-reliance on adjectives, this book also fumbled with words in other ways. The consistent use of "blond" where "blonde" should have been was a minor annoyance, perhaps one only noticeable to me. More reading-trance-breaking to me was having a character go to the "bathroom" in a tavern. Something about that just didn't quite work. That description, among others, pulled me out of the world as I asked, "Huh? Do pirates really excuse themselves to go to the bathroom?"

  • Lack of Women: I wrote down this  critique very early on in my reading, though I hoped more solid women would enter into the cast of characters as the story progressed. Grace does add a second female character to her crew about halfway through the adventure, but I didn't feel that this addition was enough to withdraw my critique. Amora, after all, doesn't build much of a relationship with this addition. The interaction of these women is, all things considered, rather minimal. I just want to see more women enjoying the company of other women in YA fantasy--in all fantasy, in fact. Is that too much to ask?

  • Predictability: Though there were a few surprises (the book isn't entirely predictable), I will say that I very early on guessed many of the major twists that the characters would encounter. There's enough depth to the worldbuilding that I didn't really mind the predictability of this work, but it was still disappointing to ultimately find out I was right all along.

Rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
6/10

Fans of Stephanie Garber's Caraval are likely to enjoy the fantastical (and sometimes fatal) worldbuilding of All the Stars and Teeth. Those who remember Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's Peter and the Starcatchers series should take a peek at this older, angstier cast of characters as well.

Details

Publisher: Imprint
Date: February 4, 2020
Series: All the Stars and Teeth
Buy It HERE

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