Book Review – Vile Stars by Sera Milano

First published, 2022

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Going to go on record right from the get-go and tell you that Sera Milano is incredible. This is the second of her books that I’ve read and I really enjoy her work. She has a wonderful style – a sort of conversational interview way of writing which you’d think from my lousy description might be dry and – stop thinking. It’s rich and emotive and I can’t think of anyone else who writes this way, or could write this way, so effectively.

In Vile Stars, the characters are struggling in the wake of parent-loss, during a pandemic in their late teens, while dealing with/watching a coercive relationship play itself out. The witnesses are making a podcast about what they’re seeing, to help other people because – what do you do when someone you care about gets involved with somebody who controls them? How do you tell your friend/family member that the guy they think is magical is utterly cruel behind her back? How do you save someone who cuts off contact?

From a chance meeting at the observatory during an astronomical event, Luka, just about eighteen years old, A-level student, hoping to study History at university, meets seemingly nineteen-year-old Cosmo. He’s nicely put together, saves her phone from cracked-screen destruction, and he seems to be perfectly pleasant. But he’s manipulating her from the start, filling her up with his opinions, and making himself comfortable with her money, her phone and all her attention.

But when everything Luka does seems to annoy Cosmo, and the world is getting smaller due to the Covid-19 pandemic, how will she be able to reach back to her family and friends when she’s so thoroughly thrown her chips in with his? And has anything he’s told her been true?

Just stunning. I cared about all the characters within a couple of pages, especially best friend, Roisin, who was an absolute delight. I felt their frustration and their grief as if it were my own. And I’ll say this: it’s not all doom and gloom. I wouldn’t want you to think that. There are some very comic lines which elevated the read and made it all the more poignant for this reader.

I read it in a day and plan to do so again before too long.