Sunday, February 13, 2022

Trouble in the Stars

Trouble in the Stars
by Sarah Prineas
Recommended Ages: 10+

We first meet Trouble about the same time he meets himself, floating in outer space as a blob of goo. He doesn't remember much about himself, other than that he's a shapeshifter. He finds his way on board a space station, then stows away on a departing ship, eventually taking the form of a human boy. At first, the crew of the ship debates throwing him out of an airlock, but they let him stay and he soon becomes part of their odd family, including several different humanoid species, a lizardian and three insectoids that form a single person. Trouble starts to feel safe and at home on board the Hindsight (that's the ship), while trying hard to learn how to be a human and get enough to eat. But the galactic StarLeague is after him, claiming that he's an escaped prisoner, and somehow, their flagship always seems to find them no matter where they hide.

Trouble doesn't remember being a criminal, and as far as he knows, he's the only one of his kind. News that there may be other shapeshifters out there leads Trouble and friends to visit a strange being, or machine, called The Knowledge, in search of, well, you know – knowledge. Of course, this turns out to be the first of a series of traps Trouble walks into, en route to discovering what he really is and where he belongs.

I'm already afraid my synopsis has given away too much, so I'll stop there. Trouble is a fun point-of-view character, discovering for the first time many curious things about human beings that you and I take for granted. As he discovers friendship, the warmth of family, a sense of home, and many other powerful feelings, he becomes a focal point for an emotional experience that will touch the reader's heart. Meanwhile, young minds will absorb fascinating information about traveling through space, meeting alien creatures (some of whom use the pronoun "they," but not all for the same reason) and finding freedom outside the laws of a benevolent galactic government that has turned a bit too bossy and militaristic. It has scary bad guys but also a hero who can be a little scary, too – but who also has good heart, or whatever it is when he's a blob of goo.

This book's sequel, Asking for Trouble, comes out on March 15, 2022. Sarah Prineas is also the author of the four "Magic Thief" books, the Winterling trilogy, two "Ash & Bramble" books and the novels The Scroll of Kings (also supposedly the start of a new series) and Dragonfell.

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