While I enjoyed R.C. Lewis’ first book, STITCHING SNOW, it didn’t quite edge up to love for me. But her latest, SPINNING STARLIGHT, rises above the debut, in my opinion. While the two books are both sci-fis and the covers are complementary, they are not connected. But on to the description …

Spinning Starlight by R.C. LewisSixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Here are the five things I loved most.

1. The fairy tale – I liked the use of a more obscure fairy tale, “The Wild Swans.” I confess I don’t get tired of the Snow White or Cinderella retellings, either, but it was fun to read something different.

2. The challenge – Think about how hard it would be to try and communicate if you couldn’t speak or even make a sound. Then add on to that the fact that in your world they’ve phased out the written word and everything is voice-activated, so you can’t even write out your distress message. I found it somewhat disturbing to consider this is where technology might take a civilization–but also believable in some ways. Yikes!

3. The romance – So on that note, how do you fall for someone when you can’t speak to them? More pertinently, how do they fall for you? I was impressed with how Ms. Lewis developed the romance and made me believe it despite this major obstacle.

4. The flashbacks – Often as writers we’re cautioned about using flashbacks, but when they’re done well, they’re very effective. In this book, they have the dual purpose of showing Liddi’s relationship with her brothers and revealing bits of herself that she can’t due to her inability to speak. I felt they were well-placed and powerful.

5. The stakes – Let’s add another layer of difficulty onto the communication challenges. Once Liddi ends up on Tiav’s planet, even if she could tell him what’s going on with her brother, she faces deep-held beliefs on that planet that could mean the natives won’t help her anyway–including Tiav. So it’s not only a matter of communicating but of trust. Hey, in this case, maybe it’s good she can’t talk?

Overall, it was a well-told story with a fantastic romance in a fun sci-fi world. Hey, I grew up in a family that pretty much kept the TV on anything that included space or aliens :). Anyway, if you haven’t checked this one out, I recommend it, and I look forward to whatever Ms. Lewis writes next!

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