Not many books stand out as unique. "Star of Hope" by Moira McPartlin is the concluding book in the author's "Sun Song" trilogy for young adults, and joins its two predecessors in being so different from just about anything else you'll have read that, like them, it will stick in the memory. That it is also fast-paced and intriguing ensures that your interest and attention never flags; and it builds very nicely to a shattering and satisfying climax that provides a fitting conclusion both for the book itself and the trilogy as a whole.
The books are set in 2089, and everything is different. So different that place names have changed, elements of language have changed, and above all else, society has changed. Things are changing again as a result of events in the first two books, Ways of the Doomed and Wants of the Silent, but ingrained divisions still run deep between a Privileged class who lived lives of relative ease and luxury, as far as the Earth's depleted resources would permit, and a much larger native Celtic underclass, virtual slaves from whom the Privileged have been separated by upbringing, opportunity, and genetic background.
The author's approach to drawing her readers into the world she has created is an effective and engaging one. Nothing is made simple, and characters never waste time explaining their world to an audience from the present. This gives the books a wonderfully edgy, uncertain, feel. Sometimes you think that you've recognised a real place from a name or description, and sometimes you feel you can see the pieces of this strange society falling into place: only to have your expectations confounded on the next page. These are not books for those who crave clarity or certainty, but they will certainly appeal to anyone who enjoys having their assumptions challenged; and to anyone who likes the idea of a magical mystery tour of a dystopian future world.
The plot of "Star of Hope" revolves around parallel but linked quests being pursued by sixteen-year-old Sorlie and his aunt, Ishbel, a sort of post-apocalyptic Lara Croft. Sorlie's grandmother Vanora has been ousted from control by the revolutionary forces of the Blue Pearl, led by The Prince, Sorlie's father, but their grip on power is at best tentative. To bring about lasting change to the world they need to find the Star of Hope. But what is it, why is it important, and what are they meant to do if and when they track it down? Both Sorlie and Ishbel face adventures and misadventures as they pursue separate paths to their shared destiny. The tension steadily builds as the book proceeds and as more is revealed about the true reality of the world they are living in. As the climax approaches, Sorlie finds himself having to question everything he's ever believed as he faces a decision that will change that world, perhaps for better or perhaps for worse; but certainly forever.