Book Review: Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles


Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles / ★★★☆☆

Summary: When Gabi’s brother gets terribly injured in war, she discovers that his dying wish is that she would make a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago through Spain with his best friend, Seth. The problem is, she and Seth do not get along.

I don’t know much, but I know this thing, this mystery, must be behind the desire that stirred millions of pilgrims across the centuries. Why else would people walk hundreds of miles to a place they’ve never seen? What is it that our restless hearts are searching for?

Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary

Plot

My feelings on this book would best be described by the word “lukewarm.” If you want an easy, relatively simple read, this may be a good choice. It has a lot to say about war, but I found it rather slow paced and much more philosophical than it was full of action. It’s an intriguing read, and I was entertained all the way through. I do think the summary implies a lot more romance than you get with this book, however. Again, this book focuses heavily on ideals and making sense of the world and why it is that people don’t necessarily get what they deserve, and I think if this book was longer and more developed the romance would have felt a bit more natural and fully formed. This book could have done with much more development in plot and in character. It would have made the philosophical nature of it more meaningful.

That being said, my major complaint is that there was so much going on in this book with ideas and ideals that by the end, I wasn’t sure what it was that the main character believed. It’s obvious she learns stuff over the course of the book, but there was so much it seemed more like  jumble of ideals and religious values and philosophical ideas than anything cohesive, and  I wasn’t sure if there was supposed to be an overarching thought I was supposed to come out with. This book packed in too much for its page count, and yet still ended up being on the slower side.  I wish it had gone  deeper with a few ideas rather than try to hit so many. My eyes glazed over a few of them, and it’s the reason the book turned out rather slow for me.

Character

Again, I think the characters in this book could have used more development, especially the main character, Gabi. Kind of like the philosophy, she bounced all around, and so many aspects of her plotline could have gone so much deeper, particularly her past. I know it’s the point of the book that she is discovering herself and life, but…I wanted more depth to her. Her emotions were a bit turbulent and extreme at times and I didn’t always the logic she was applying to her actions was plausible (i.e. the boyfriend drama). She was strong and tough, though, and wasn’t dislikable.

Her romance with Seth was sweet, and I liked Seth a lot. I found him to be the most consisted character in this book, but I would have liked more backstory with him. Backstory on his friendship with Lucas, his relationship with Gabi, with his parents and with war. I felt like this book really touched the surface with him, and I would have loved to go deeper (much like with everything in this book, to be fair).

Mostly, though, I was screaming for depth with the side characters we met along the way. They were extremely stereotypical. Like, they may win an award for some of the most stereotypical characters I’ve ever read. I could tell exactly what they were supposed to represent and the ways they were supposed to add depth and meaning to Gabi and Seth’s journey, but….they were just ridiculous.

Writing

The writing was okay. Again, it was rather simple and didn’t really touch me too deeply; the whole story could probably have used another draft for the sake of development.

Was I satisfied?

Eh. It was an okay read, but I would have liked something deeper and more developed. Pretty cover, though.

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