Saturday 6 August 2022

Vile Stars - Sera Milano

How can the things you love hurt so much?
17-year-old Luka isn’t looking for love. She’s trying to piece her life back together after a heartbreaking loss. But when she meets the gorgeous and charismatic Cosmo under a meteor shower at the Greenwich Observatory, it feels like destiny has played a hand. Surely theirs is a love written in the stars.
But Cosmo isn’t what he seems, using Luka's love for him to slowly take control of her life. As the pandemic starts to make headlines and lockdown sets in, she is trapped emotionally and physically in a coercive relationship. Luka’s friends and brother can see what’s happening, but struggle to reach her. Something will have to be sacrificed so Luka can set herself free – but what will be left of her when she does?

He tells me I’m the only one who can save him. But loving him is stealing the best of me.

What did I think?

Vile Stars is a YA novel but you don’t have to be a young adult to read it as my youth is long gone and I absolutely loved it.  

It’s written in the form of letters and a podcast with short paragraphs from different people’s perspectives.  It’s a very modern way to write and it gave the novel a depth I wasn’t expecting as it really feels as if the characters are talking to you.

It starts with a bang in chapter one and you just can’t get the haunting scene out of your mind.  So with the opening chapter in mind, you know how it’s going to end but you just can’t stop reading and hurtling at full speed towards that devastating conclusion.  Sera Milano has perfected the art of the hook as I was completely riveted from start to finish.

This is not a traditional love story; it’s dark and horrifying as Cosmo draws Luka into his web, gradually alienating her from her friends and family.  Luka’s friends never give up on her but Cosmo’s grip is firm and he chips away at Luka’s mind until she is a shadow of her former self.

The story is hard to read at times, although it’s never graphic, it’s more the level of mental abuse that Cosmo inflicts on Luka.  It’s frightening that people don’t see what is happening to them, as their partners are so crafty and conniving.  Cosmo is a vile character and if only one reader recognises their own mentally abusive and controlling partner in him, then Sera Milano’s work here is done.

Fresh, powerful and haunting, Vile Stars is a novel that will stay with me for a very long time.  I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

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