YA Weekend: The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Mogsy’s Rating: 2 of 5 stars

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance

Series: Book 1 of Origin

Publisher: Tor Teen (October 30, 2018)

Length: 368 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

I feel like this book and I could have gotten along better, had I known more about its background and context. Or maybe not, because in essence, this kind of paranormal YA romance is generally not my bag at all. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what kind of book this was until after I started; nevertheless, I still gave it my best shot, but in the end, I simply couldn’t connect to either the characters or story.

The Darkest Star, while being the first book of a new series, is a spin-off marking Jennifer L. Armentrout’s return to her Lux universe, and one of her side characters from it, called Luc, gets the spotlight in this one. Co-starring with him is our narrator, seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher. The story begins as Evie and her friend sneak into a club that’s known to be friendly to both humans and the alien Luxen. Although it has been several years since the end of the war between the two species, some of the tension and hostilities are still there.

At the club, Evie meets Luc, whom she is sure is a Luxen, since he is by far the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. But as it turns out, he is much more—and to Evie’s confusion, he appears to know a lot about her and her family. No matter what she does, everything seems to lead back to him. And now there is a murderer on the loose, and among the victims is one of Evie’s classmates. The manner of death suggests that the perpetrator may be a Luxen, which is causing no small amount of fear and anti-alien sentiment at Evie’s school.

To the author’s credit, she has written a spin-off that can be enjoyed on its own without having read the main series. I knew nothing about the Lux universe before I started, but at no point did I feel lost or out of my depth, despite the frequent references to characters from the previous books or events in the past. That said, I got the impression that world-building wasn’t too deep to begin with, which was why learning the ropes was so easy. Character development also felt perfunctory, as nothing really sets Evie apart from your generic female teen protagonist from any number of YA paranormal romance novels. Luc fared even worse. I didn’t have the advantage of knowing him from the original series, but something tells me that if I had, I probably wouldn’t have even picked up this book. Luc was a grade-A asshole from the moment he meets Evie, but apparently, she’s okay with forgoing all her self-respect and dignity as long as the dude is hot as sin.

Books like this and Twilight are reasons why I tend to stay away from this genre, it’s just not my cup of tea. Everywhere I turned, I seemed to encounter another pet peeve, including the dreaded annoying pet nickname that the guy gives the girl, despite her repeated protestations to not call her that. I mean, how hard is this to understand! It is NOT cute. It is harassment that would earn you my boot up your ass. But again, we’re back talking about Evie, whose policy when it comes to guys seems to be “you can get away with being a cad as long as you look great without your shirt.”

The plot was also ludicrously contrived. It’s got one of those third-act twists that’s not actually a twist because anyone even mildly paying attention could have predicted it coming a mile away. The murder arc with the mysterious killer also felt tacked on, because it was clear that Evie and Luc’s burgeoning romance was the only story this book wanted to tell.

So if you enjoy YA paranormal fiction where the romance is the focus, then The Darkest Star is a book you might want to take a look at. Unfortunately, it was just not to my personal tastes. Even if I were to find myself in the mood for this kind of novel, I would have preferred a bit more originality and better characters beyond the usual cookie-cutter variety. This was good for a light read, but nothing about it really stood out or helped it be memorable. I’m disappointed, because Jennifer L. Armentrout is an author I’ve wanted to try for a while, but now that I know more about her writing style, I probably won’t seek out any more of her work.

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29 Comments on “YA Weekend: The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  1. Too bad! I actually have a NetGalley copy but just haven’t gotten to it yet. I have never read the Lux series either, but I own the first book in that series for some reason. Now I’ll probably pass on this.

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  2. Shame you couldn’t connect to either the character or story- but it makes sense if the genre is not your cup of tea. It’s such a pity that the character development was perfunctory though! Great review!

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  3. I…will probably like this one because YA supernatural romances are my kinda thing haha. Of course it all depends on the writing too. I’ll have to check this one out though. 😀 Thanks for the review!

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  4. There are some problematic themes in book in my opinion. The first one is that Evie/Nadia has basically had no control of her life since she took that serum. Luc didn’t tell Nadia about how the serum would affect her memories since he knew she never would have done the treatment. He took her decision away from her and put her life in the hands of a complete stranger and claimed that he had no choice. What do you think about this?

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    • Interesting, I didn’t even think of things that way, but I agree with you that this is problematic. Evie was just a very shallow character to me in general, and that’s even without taking into account that she had practically no agency in this novel. Which might have been another reason why I felt so frustrated.

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  5. Adding onto my previous comment. Luc claimed that what he had done was for Evie’s own good, but he seemed like he wasn’t planning on telling her the truth about who she really was. It was wrong of him to take Nadia’s choice away from her to do despite his good intentions. It also rubbed me the wrong way when he didn’t allow her to leave the club earlier in the book. Luc also had people watching and following her without her knowledge or permission for most of the story. He was also very forceful in his views as he kept trying to convince Evie that he wasn’t kidnapping her. Luc and Evie’s relationship doesn’t feel equal at all. Please tell me what you think about this.

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    • Ugh, the whole “did it for your own good” excuse is the absolute worst, and I suppose it’s just another reason to add to the long list of what makes Luc a jerk. There was definitely an unhealthy imbalance in their relationship.

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  6. Another thing that unnerved me is that Luc, Sylvia and other people who knew about Evie’s true identity seemed content to let her live in a lie for the rest of her life. I feel like Sylvia was also basically using her as a replacement for her dead stepdaughter (especially since seemed gave Nadia her name). Sylvia also seemed like she wanted to drag out the lie for as long as possible so she could have Evie all to herself. I don’t know if the author wants us to view Sylvia in a sympathetic light, but I certainly don’t. I thought that she was very selfish and I still don’t trust her at all. I wanted Evie to show some more anger and resentment towards those who lied to her but claimed it was for her “own good”. What do you think of Sylvia and Luc deciding to never let Evie find out the truth?

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  7. What do you think about Evie and Luc’s characters and relationship? I don’t think that their relationship is healthy and Luc clearly has all the power. I also thought that their relationship developed way too quickly and was annoyed that Evie completely forgave Luc even though he hid so much from her. Also, what do you think of my previous comment?

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    • I don’t think their relationship is balanced either, as I said, and with romances like that it’s always a problem. Yes, the fact that the people who are supposed to be Evie’s “friends” and those who care for her are okay with keeping her in the dark, that adds to the imbalance.

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      • I agree with everything you are saying. Her “mother” and Luc were saying that it was ok that she still thought of herself as Evie. It isn’t ok at all since she got named after Sylvia’s dead stepdaughter and was told that she was her. It’s pretty uncomfortable for me for Nadia to keep going by that name. Also it seemed like Slyvia wanted to keep Evie in the dark for as long as possible so she could pretend that she had her daughter back. What do you think about this? I hope that she gets her memories back and goes by her real name again.

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  8. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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