Happy Monday friends of B+S! I am coming at you today with another B+S Book Review of All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace.
I started to read this book back at the beginning of March, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard. As it shut everyone inside, my anxiety reached new heights, and in the midst of it all, my desire to read plummeted, which put this baby (and every other book I was reading at the time) on the DNF list for the rest of the month. I allowed myself to feel whatever it was I needed to feel, for however long I needed to feel it, and when I was ready I began to read again, the first book I thought about was ATSAT, and the reasons were clear:
I needed to connect with a character who was strong and determined against all odds such as Amora Montara (our heroine), I needed to feel like I could escape into a faraway adventure as the crew did in the book, and honestly, I really needed to finish it up because it was my next book review, and I was seriously behind lol. No joke.
Confession Time: I actually thought the book was going to be a no-go for me because I just seemed so distracted whenever I tried to read it, and usually that’s the first sign that the book just isn’t doing it for me. But instead of giving up on it, I kept trying to remain focused because I felt that the book had a really good story yet to be revealed. I just had to get my anxiety under control so that I could give it a real chance.
I’m so glad I did because I absolutely adored this book! It gives you magic, pirates, mermaids, blood and teeth and gore and bones, Yummy… Well, let me not waste anymore time!
Let’s go to the review, shall we?
Author: Adalyn Grace
Publisher/ Publication Date: Imprint Publishing, Feb 4, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
First, the Goodreads Synopsis:
As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.
When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.
But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.
Bri’s Thoughts on the Book:
Honestly, to sum it up simply, I absolutely loved All the Stars and Teeth by the time I got to the last page. I was actually turning the pages and reading the scenes in full movie, even miming the words and making the facial expressions as I read each sentence. The action was palpable, the dialogue was believable, and the need to know what happens next was almost unbearable (luckily, Adalyn has already finished Book #2 so I won’t have to wait long).
Let’s talk a little about what worked for me and what didn’t in this magical adventure on the seas:
I loved the way Amora’s character was written. She was strong, determined and loyal, showing the maturity for her age. Oftentimes in Young Adult novels, you find that the characters’ ages may be that of a late teen, however, the immaturity of that age isn’t really felt in their actions. But with Amora, even though she behaved like a Queen, the immaturity of her age poked through often, and I enjoyed reading that character flaw in her. It made her feel more believable. It was refreshing to read her story and actually say to myself, “oh grow up…” or “stop being so naive…” It wasn’t immaturity in a “bad” way either, it wasn’t annoying to read. It was just like a “yeah, she’s definitely still young.” type of observation.
I hate to pull this card, but I loved that Amora was a black girl. Or at least a person of color based off her description. Growing up being a black girl reading fantasy, I didn’t get too many characters that I felt looked like me. Honestly, I don’t remember reading about any black fantasy characters until my teens and early 20s. So, having a strong black female main character, who’s destined to be Queen, with super intense magical powers and beauty and sexuality to match was like “Oh hell yeah, I’m in love!”
All around, Amora was a super awesome heroine to follow, and I felt connected to her character more than any other I’ve read in a long time.
If I had to sum up Bastian in one word… it would be…
I don’t know what Adalyn was going through when she made his character, but his features and masculinity were so well described that he was easy to visualize and the results were breathtaking. I don’t think I ever spoke about a male character in a review like this, but Bastian raised the bar on how a sexy male character should be written. You could even smell the sea salt and sweat on his sun-soaked skin through her words, and even the description of his sweat was a solid turn on.
You know how the male characters in most fantasies are troubled by some deep conflict that seems to control their every move and has molded their very beings? It always tends to make the guys whiny and almost in need of being babied by their female counterparts. Maybe it’s me, but I always felt a little annoyed that even in fantasies we have to play the maternal role to these men babies. Well, even though Bastian was a victim of this epithet of male degradation, he didn’t succumb to it as harshly as other male characters have in the past. Yeah, he was troubled (and for good reason) but he didn’t make me roll my eyes as much because he actually benefited to Amora’s successes greatly. They were an actual power couple. I could dig it…
Vataea and Ferrick
I loved the type of mermaid Vataea was… she wasn’t some bubble gum mermaid. Yes she was beautiful and yes she had awe inducing, “Lisa Frank-esque” fins, but she wasn’t just all that glittered and shimmered. She was a freaking siren, which traditional tales speak of mermaids as such. She could woo you with her voice of silk and her skin of porcelain, and then suck all the life from your body as she drowns you for sport. Get you a girl that can do both… get you a Vataea.
Ferrick is a “he had to grow on me” type of character. Immediately I knew his detrimental plight, and I did feel for him, but he was just so annoying at first and I was like “dude… chill”. Even though he was always brave and loyal, the bravery was given with a undertone of pure whimp in the beginning. Sorry Ferrick… Actually, you know what…
…because Adalyn brilliantly developed his character in such a way that his facade became reality. He stepped up to the plate, and he started to get the ladies a little turned on when he really started to embrace his manhood. We see you Ferrick, and we aint mad at you.
What I really loved:
One thing that really stood out to me was how great Adalyn captured the voices, actions, sounds, smells, scenery… all of it! The descriptiveness of the characters and the settings were so nurtured and expressed vigorously throughout the book.
Like I said before, I could smell Bastian by how well written his scent descriptions were. I could see the dolphins in the sea and the crystal azure waves crashing around the ship. I could feel Amora’s pain when she got her period in the middle of a fight scene, and I rolled my eyes at the boys’ reactions. I could taste the foods that were served at Amora’s ceremony, and I could feel the intense heat between certain characters when they got too close.
The story really became a sort of “real-life” reading because I actually did escape into their world and forgot all about being stuck here in quarantine. I will forever be grateful for the adventure.
The Final Verdict:
I give All the Stars and Teeth a 4.9 rating .
I didn’t give this book a perfect 5 because I did struggle in the beginning to move through the pages, and I don’t know 100% if it’s because my anxiety took hold of me or if it was because the book just wasn’t hooking me within it’s first 100 pages. If it wasn’t for that, this would’ve been a perfect book and definitely made my 2020 all-star list.
Have you had the chance to sail away to Visidia, yet? If so, what were your thoughts on the book? If you haven’t I hope my review inspires you to go out there and grab your own copy! I promise you won’t regret getting lost at sea with this crew.
Until next time, guys…