The Starlight Conspiracy by Steve Voake
|The Starlight Conspiracy by Steve Voake
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy
|Summary: A glittering mix of conspiracy thriller, road trip, and sci fi mystery, this is a book for everychild. Easy to read yet highly evocative, it appeals to the better part of us all. Recommended.
|Date: March 2007
|Publisher: Faber and Faber
|External links: Author's website
Fourteen year old Berry is at a crossroads. Her beloved mother has just died and Social Services are refusing to allow her to continue with the travelling life she and her mother had led. They've found her a foster home and a place at a nearby secondary school. Berry has never been to school and she doesn't want to start now. But even her fellow travellers think it's for the best. Pondering her best escape route, Berry wanders into the road, right in front of a bus. And that's when everything changes.
Inexplicably saved from certain death by a frail old man, Berry is entrusted with a mysterious package that she must return to New Mexico. The safety of the world depends upon it.
The first few chapters of The Starlight Conspiracy contained evil Neo Nazis, conspiracy theories, a motorcycle stunt riding teenager, shootings, covert electronic taggings and a mysterious artefact of incredible power. I automatically shifted my mindset over to that of my twelve year old son and prepared to assess The Starlight Conspiracy in terms of the other squillion teen genre thrillers out there. I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed. Everything I'd read about Steve Voake had led me to expect a little more.
Everything I'd read was right, actually. That Steve Voake's a clever one. The first chapters of the book are teasers really. By the end of The Starlight Conspiracy, I realised there was a lot more to the book than genre thriller. There's some very good writing, for starters. Voake's prose is taut and clear for the most part, but at times of tension it allows itself some heady, glittering paragraphs that really tug at your heartstrings.
You could call The Starlight Conspiracy a science fiction thriller, I suppose, and there are a lot of X Files elements about it - with government agencies trying to cover up otherworldly activities and criminal outfits trying to use them for profit. It's also a road trip as Berry and her friend Ell take a motorbike trip through the vastness of America from San Francisco to New Mexico. There are also plenty of thought-provoking moral questions about the temptations and misuses of power. But I think mostly it's a timeless story of the search to belong.
The Starlight Conspiracy is approachable and exciting enough for confident readers at the late primary and early secondary stages but its moral questions probably best suit the early to middle teens range. For both, it's highly recommended.
My thanks to the publisher, Faber, for sending the book. We also have a review of Hooey Higgins and the Shark by Steve Voake.
Older teens would like Being by Kevin Brooks and younger children more interested in action and less interested in the otherworldly would enjoy Joe Craig's Jimmy Coates series. You might also enjoy Adaptation by Malinda Lo.
The Starlight Conspiracy by Steve Voake is in the Top Ten Books To Drag The Kids Away From Computer Games For Ten Minutes At Least.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Starlight Conspiracy by Steve Voake at Amazon.com.
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