In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.
A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.
When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.
But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows. – Goodreads
Every main character isn’t going to be the brightest of the bunch. They aren’t also going to come with struggles of a childhood or for the most part have knowledge of some kind of world outside of their own bubble. For Iris, Starswept is her first struggle or test of growth.
Iris is naive and painfully so. I strongly believe the author kept putting that character trait within the novel to remind the reader that Iris is a sheltered 15 year girl. My issue with this is it is so constant that my eyes was in permanent eye roll. It really makes it hard for me, at least, to like Iris. I get it she is young and not every character is going to be older than what they are but at a certain point it became ridiculous.
I liked how the author tried not to do a insta love. It is dangerously close and hilarious how Iris has someone she is interested in and doesn’t make a move but when she sees the Adryil boy, you never hear about her original interest. Another eye roll.
Beyond Iris, the story overall was pretty decent. The idea that a advanced race is buying out Earthlings talented in the arts for their entertainment is creative and I appreciate the author opening that door. I loved the complexity of the surrounding characters and I did like the fact that the author didn’t solely depend on them to push the story through. Although I felt the story was long, I can see why the author chose to stretch it out in order to fully develop and show Iris growth.
Surprisingly enough, I wish there was more music in the story. I think the stretching would have benefited from melodies being shown within the story line as well as Iris having other interest. But the story sucks in you because you know something is off about the whole world and you want to find out have a 15 year old naive girl shakes things up. It sounds cliche but the story really isn’t.
I strongly believe that a book 2 would blow book 1 out of the waters because Iris has not passed the stage of doing things blindly at the cost of others.