Monday, January 20, 2020

Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars #1) by Tara Sim
[Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway]

Hello, and welcome to the next stop on the Scavenge the Stars blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! Thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!
Title: SCAVENGE THE STARS (Scavenge the Stars, #1)
Author: Tara Sim
Pub. Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…

Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo. 


I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Scavenge the Stars was somewhat predictable, but not in a way that detracted from the overall story. I know it's supposed to be a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo (one of my favorites), but the author wasn't very subtle with their hints. We weren't gently led down a path, but shoved off a cliff into the watery truths below. It was easy to work out the anagram (which let you know who someone was before you were supposed to know), and the twist was something you could see from the start. The author does withhold some information (mostly regarding Amaya's mother), but it's not really relevant to the story. I think keeping the mother mostly an enigma is supposed to set up the next book, but it was annoying.

Cayo. I loved his name, but not his personality. He was rash, but not bold. Helpful, but not necessarily compassionate (unless it involved his sister). Cayo claimed to care about the people around him (particularly the children working off their parent's debts) when his only concern weeks before was getting drunk, high, and gambling his family's money away. There are moments of sobriety and decency (like keeping a child from being beaten to death), but it's like his eyes have suddenly been opened and exposed him to the ugly truths of the world. He berates himself for poor decisions, but it doesn't take him long to resort to bad habits. "It's the only way" is a phrase I'm tired of hearing. There's never just one way, only one you're willing to do above the others.

Certain aspects of the story didn't always make sense, like Cayo's "friends" thinking he was dead when he stopped going to the Vice Sector. If they were true friends, they would have been able to get in touch with him outside of the gambling dens, but chose not to. Other characters were mentioned once and never seen again. I wish some of the secondary characters had been fleshed out more, like Cayo's sister and Romara. The book's sole focus seems to be Amaya, Cayo, and the people in their immediate vicinity. We know they're there without really knowing them. Amaya also prides herself on being resourceful and a survivor, but she ignores all of her instincts in favor of a personal vendetta she was only recently made aware of. She talks about not trusting people, but then wholeheartedly believes the words of someone she barely knows. It wasn't particularly believable.

At one point Amaya says, "All her work, for nothing." What work?? She didn't actually do anything. Her "plan" unfolded with little to no effort on her part. Events simply happened in a way that was favorable. She was just a pretty figurehead being manipulated by someone else.

There's a smidge of insta-love. They don't necessarily act on their feelings, but they're smitten from the start. They know literally nothing about each other, but there's an undeniable attraction between the two. (You can't see me, but I'm rolling my eyes.) Amaya was easily distracted for someone seeking revenge.

Those were my main issues with Scavenge the Stars, but the story itself was still mostly enjoyable. Retellings aren't usually my cup of tea, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see how an author remade The Count of Monte Cristo. Everyone has a unique perspective when reading or telling a story, and I love to see how those feelings and perceptions translate into new versions and ideas. I think Sim did an amazing job recreating something familiar and making it her own. Some of the phrases were repeated a little too often (like Cayo saying Amaya was made of salt water and steel), but it only briefly pulled me from the story.

I was not a fan of the Brackish or what happened on the ship, and Silverfish's experiences really made me angry. If you can't stomach children being used for labor, and occasionally dying because of their efforts, this might not be the book for you. They are barely given enough food to survive, and any perceived slight on the captain is met with violence and cruelty. 

Overall, I enjoyed reading Scavenge the Stars and look forward to seeing how the author wraps up the duology. I do think you'll need to suspend your disbelief for this one to work, because Amaya is very lucky when it comes to not dying. She has a lot of close encounters, but always manages to scrape by just enough to make it. (★★★⋆☆)

About Tara:

Tara Sim is the author of SCAVENGE THE STARS (Disney-Hyperion) and the TIMEKEEPER trilogy (Sky Pony Press) and writer of all things magic. She can often be found in the wilds of the Bay Area, California.

When she’s not writing about mischievous boys in clock towers, Tara spends her time drinking tea, wrangling cats, and occasionally singing opera. Despite her bio-luminescent skin, she is half-Indian and eats way too many samosas.

Tara is represented by Victoria Marini at Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr | Goodreads

Giveaway Details: 
3 winners will receive a finished copy of SCAVENGE THE STARS, US only.
Giveaway ends February 14th at midnight EST.

Tour Schedule:
Week One:
1/13/2020: Books,Dreams,Life Excerpt
1/14/2020: Kait Plus Books Review
1/15/2020: Starlight Reads Review
1/16/2020: Here's to Happy Endings Review
1/17/2020: BookHounds YA Excerpt

Week Two:

1/20/2020: Do You Dog-ear? Review
1/21/2020: Review
1/22/2020: The Pages In-Between  Review
1/23/2020: Wonder Struck Review
1/24/2020: A Gingerly Review Review

Week Three:
1/27/2020: Jrsbookreviews Review
1/28/2020: Two Chicks on Books Excerpt
1/29/2020: Nay's Pink Bookshelf Review
1/30/2020: onemused Review
1/31/2020: Fire and Ice Review

Week Four:
2/3/2020: Ficticiouswonderland Review
2/4/2020: Jena Brown Writes Review
2/5/2020: She Just Loves Books Review
2/6/2020: Books and Zebras Review
2/7/2020: Mycornerforbooksand Review

Week Five:
2/10/2020: Smada's Book Smack Review
2/11/2020: Cover to Cover Reviews Review
2/12/2020: History from a Woman’s Perspective Review
2/13/2020: Two Points of Interest Review 
2/14/2020: A Bookish Dream Review


  1. Hmmm this does sound interesting! I think I will wait until book two comes out though to read it and see how others like the series as w whole first though. Great honest review!

    1. I'm honestly not sure why this is a duology -- it could have easily been condensed into one book. I enjoyed the uniqueness of the story, but I'm not sure if it's something I want to revisit in the future.

  2. Ugh, it's kind of annoying to be continually hit over the head with exposition as if the reader isn't astute enough to figure it out. Grr. And Amaya's near misses seem a bit much. LOL But it still sounds like a fun adventure! :)

    1. We're introduced to Silverfish, who was once Amaya, and then suddenly there's a Countess Yamaa? It was too easy. Especially since Silverfish/Amaya is always talking about being one person and then another, and how each name signified a different desire or goal. Silverfish was a survivor -- she put one foot in front of the other, and didn't take risks that would impact the duration of her time spent on the Brackish. Amaya is a fighter apparently, and focused on revenge, while Countess Yamaa seems to be fulfilling the desires of others. It wasn't confusing, but it wasn't clever. It just was.

      If she miraculously survived something once... okay. But she seems to get lucky over and over again, which isn't realistic. It was definitely a fun adventure, even if it wasn't always believable. :)

  3. I don't think this is the book for me. Sounds a bit too dark even though I like dark reads at times.

    1. There were some darker aspects, but nothing over-the-top. People die, but only one death is really told in detail. Children dying is always hard to stomach, but the author simply mentioned they were dead and moved on. She didn't linger on the details, but I think used them to fuel Amaya's anger and determination. It was pretty twisted.


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― Marissa Meyer, Heartless