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A Genuinely Good YA Thriller


From the fun cast of characters to the quick, dynamic plot, to the intriguing whodunnit aspects, to the well-realized world of the Institut, I found Spectre of the Stars incredibly well-written. I'm not going to include any spoilers to the story in this review, but they are notable and significantly enhance the plot, while still being very well-foreshadowed. Carmen as a character also has an amazing character arc, and I came to care about her throughout the book. I found the dynamic between Carmen's family to be especially fun, and the subsequent school friend group to both be organic, while each character felt distinct and multi-dimensional, which is a real feat when juggling so many characters.
I'm usually not interested in the setting of rich people at a rich place, though I understand the appeal, but Tarter writes with a frankness that helped sell the entire place to me. The juxtaposition of purity and impurity at the Institut was something I also found well-done, with the snowballing intensity of the book becoming almost breakneck speed at the end. I also didn't care for the romantic elements of the book, but the romance didn't overtake the rest of the book, and was handled well. The mystery in SOTS is also done really well. For some mysteries, I find myself waiting for the setup of the mystery to be over so I can immerse myself in the problem-solving, but I was hooked for the entire story. Although SOTS isn't a short read, it certainly feels like one, and doesn't waste the reader's time. I really enjoyed this book, and I think it's definitely worth a read.

Thrilling Mystery

Kept me at the edge of my seat!


You're joking.


Genuinely cannot believe a teenager wrote this.

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