A bush fire, and its aftermath, links a Bush-Stone curlew and three teenagers experiencing loss, love and change.
The fire was fast and hot ... only days after it went through, there were absolutely no birds left. I should have seen it as an omen, the birds all leaving like that.
Robin is a self-confessed bird-nerd from the country, living in the city. On the first day at her new school, she meets Delia. Delia is freaky and definitely not good for Robin's image.
Seth, Delia's brother, has given up school to prowl the city streets. He is angry at everything, especially the fire that killed his mother.
When a rare and endangered bird turns up in the city parklands, the lives of Robin, Seth and Delia become fatefully and dangerously intertwined ...
An intricate love story about nature, grief, friendship and life.
As Stars Fall is beautifully written, and a novel that I think will appeal to both older teenagers and adults. Not just the adults who already love YA (of which there are many! I guess I am one of them now?), but adult readers who prefer literary novels or who might previously have dismissed YA. It's a very 'literary' YA and doesn't fit what one might expect of a 'typical' YA novel. It's contemporary but it has a distinct other-worldly edge, mixing the real and surreal well.
Seth is a character whose actions make him incredibly difficult to like, and both he and Delia's perspective are told in third-person, making them feel more distant. Their sometimes questionable behaviours are made credible by their previous experiences - Seth's behaviours are pretty much consistently terrible, but his loss is explored very well. Robin's first-person narration is engaging and immersive, and while each of the central characters are well-developed, she is the most likeable.
It's described as a love story in the blurb but I wouldn't regard it as such, and if you come into it expecting that to be central you'll be disappointed. Similarly it is very slow-paced - if you're expecting something which develops quickly, you won't find that here. It's evocatively written and luxuriates in detail, including detail about the Bush-Stone curlew. It has a great deal of depth and atmosphere but not a lot of action until the very end. It's a story that's predominantly about grief.
I think this is an intriguing and original contribution to contemporary YA literature in Australia, and I'm very much looking forward to what Christie Nieman writes next.
As Stars Fall on the publisher's website