I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Blazing Star by Imani Josey
Release date: December 6th, 2016
Publisher: Wise Ink
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, historical fiction
Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.
But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?
She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.
Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.
As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.
The Blazing Star starts slow but the wait is more than worth it. I was excited to pick this book up because I had heard so many great things about it on Twitter. That and the fact that the cover is gorgeous! I love how it features a woman of colour. We definitely need more of that in Young Adult literature.
But back to the slow start. The first quarter of the book is all about setup: introducing the characters, their dynamics, etc. I found it to be extremely tough to get through. The fact that I was constantly picking it up and putting it down didn’t help, but the first part dragged on a little too long for my liking. I wanted time travel and ancient Egypt. Instead I got high school drama and pointless banter. However, once the whole time travel component was introduced I was hooked! Staying with it was more than worth it. Trust me!
The idea of featuring twin sisters was extremely unique and fascinating. Portia, the main character and narrator of the book, was struggling with her own individual identity. Always in the shadow of her overachieving sister, Portia felt small and insignificant. So, while the story transports the reader to ancient Egypt and features magic and lots of action, it’s mainly a story about self acceptance and discovery, which I adored. Portia was a wonderful character. Kind, caring and willing to stand up to injustice. Her development was amazing. I just wish that the twin dynamic would have been explored more than it was. The girls spend much of the book apart. I totally understand why the author did this, but I feel it was an untapped storyline that could have further enriched an already well written book.
The strongest parts of the book are those that take place in ancient Egypt. The modern day scenes were meh. I could take or leave them. But the ancient Egyptians characters, the descriptions of the clothing, temples…everything were so beautifully described I felt like I was actually transported with Portia. Also, while a lot of expiation about the religion, culture, etc. needed to be transmitted to the reader, the author didn’t resort to information dumping. Everything is inserted seamlessly into interactions between the characters. The reader learns about Egypt as Portia does. Historical facts meld perfectly with the mention of time travel and magic. As a reader I believed it all. I was thoroughly engrossed in the story. Ancient Egypt is just so much fun!
Also, this book features so major girl power! All of the main characters are women of colour who are intelligent, powerful and strong. These women form a strong bond and use their kickass magical abilities to fight against evil. YES!!!
The story end with room for a sequel, which I so totally hope will happen. I loved these characters to bits. The Blazing Star is definitely a book that you need to check out!
Imani Josey is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. In her previous life, she was a cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA.
Her one-act play, Grace, was produced by Pegasus Players Theatre Chicago after winning the 19th Annual Young Playwrights Festival. In recent years, she has turned her sights to long-form fiction. She now spends the majority of her time working on backstory, teaching dance fitness classes, and cuddling with her American bulldog, Thor.