Nina has some problems right now. Her mum is a drug addict and hasn’t cared for Nina and her sister, Melanie, for quite some time. She’s constantly trying to figure out where to get the next meal from. She’s trying to get through school with decent grades. Then Melanie reveals that she is pregnant (she’s fifteen. It’s unfortunate). Oh, and both girls live under the oppressive regime of the church, brought in ever since most of the souls in the world where taken over by the demon horde.
Any perceived sin can be put down to demon possession, meaning that no one – even the innocent – are safe from the wrath of the church. As such, Melanie’s pregnancy puts both girls in danger of severe punishment.
Nina has to figure out a way to keep them all – herself, Melanie and the baby – safe, fast. Keeping them safe seems to involve trusting a strange boy, Finn who appears to possess the exorcist powers only wielded by powerful members of the church. Nina quickly finds she has little choice but to embrace Finn as circumstances soon strip her of the little control she has over her life.
I read The Stars Never Rise, by Rachel Vincent in two sittings. This story is fast paced!
Nina lives in a world that has gone to hell. Literally. Her life is driven by basic survival needs. She doesn’t see any kind of self-determined future for herself. Instead she plans to join the church she doesn’t even believe in as a means to support Melanie and escape her mother. Reading a character with this self-sacrificing nature was kind of frustrating at times. She couldn’t really see a life beyond her current situation. Nina didn’t dream in a way that I could relate to. There was leaving her mother but there was no real escape from the misery of New Temperance, and while it was alienating it was also great writing from Vincent. She has created in Nina an interesting portrayal of a young person living in a regime from which there is no escape. It isn’t possible to even run to a different part of the world, as most of it was destroyed in the war with the demons. There is only the church and her crappy town and playing the limited system she is part of to the best advantage she can.
That is, until Finn and Co. show up. And then everything changes… a little too quickly. Nina throws herself into her new life with Finn and his groups of rebels a little too fast to be quite believable. In particular she throws herself into her relationship with Finn. I mentioned in another recent review that I’m not a massive fan of instant love in characters and that’s kind of what happened here. Nina’s Trust No One and Look After Your Own attitude just seems to evaporate when she’s faced with Finn. A part of me was left sort of thinking…. Really?
That said, I loved the rebels, or Anathema, as the group refers to themselves in the book. They are an interesting group of characters – particularly Devi (class mean girl) – and I am looking forward to how they develop through the rest of the series.
Overall this was a good series started. We are introduced to a troubled, hellish world in need of some good fixing. The characters are intriguing and screaming out for some development. Tantalising hints were drop as to the overarching plot of the trilogy. I think it’s likely I’ll be reading the sequel.