I feel like this book and I could have gotten along better, had I known more about its background and context. Or maybe not, because in essence, this kind of paranormal YA romance is generally not my bag at all. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what kind of book this was until after I started; nevertheless, I still gave it my best shot, but in the end, I simply couldn’t connect to either the characters or story.
The Darkest Star, while being the first book of a new series, is a spin-off marking Jennifer L. Armentrout’s return to her Lux universe, and one of her side characters from it, called Luc, gets the spotlight in this one. Co-starring with him is our narrator, seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher. The story begins as Evie and her friend sneak into a club that’s known to be friendly to both humans and the alien Luxen. Although it has been several years since the end of the war between the two species, some of the tension and hostilities are still there.
At the club, Evie meets Luc, whom she is sure is a Luxen, since he is by far the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. But as it turns out, he is much more—and to Evie’s confusion, he appears to know a lot about her and her family. No matter what she does, everything seems to lead back to him. And now there is a murderer on the loose, and among the victims is one of Evie’s classmates. The manner of death suggests that the perpetrator may be a Luxen, which is causing no small amount of fear and anti-alien sentiment at Evie’s school.
To the author’s credit, she has written a spin-off that can be enjoyed on its own without having read the main series. I knew nothing about the Lux universe before I started, but at no point did I feel lost or out of my depth, despite the frequent references to characters from the previous books or events in the past. That said, I got the impression that world-building wasn’t too deep to begin with, which was why learning the ropes was so easy. Character development also felt perfunctory, as nothing really sets Evie apart from your generic female teen protagonist from any number of YA paranormal romance novels. Luc fared even worse. I didn’t have the advantage of knowing him from the original series, but something tells me that if I had, I probably wouldn’t have even picked up this book. Luc was a grade-A asshole from the moment he meets Evie, but apparently, she’s okay with forgoing all her self-respect and dignity as long as the dude is hot as sin.
Books like this and Twilight are reasons why I tend to stay away from this genre, it’s just not my cup of tea. Everywhere I turned, I seemed to encounter another pet peeve, including the dreaded annoying pet nickname that the guy gives the girl, despite her repeated protestations to not call her that. I mean, how hard is this to understand? It’s not cute. It’s harassment. But again, now we’re back talking about Evie, whose policy when it comes to guys seems to be “you can get away with being a cad as long as you look great without your shirt.”
The plot was also ludicrously contrived. It’s got one of those third-act twists that’s not actually a twist because anyone even mildly paying attention could have predicted it coming a mile away. The murder arc with the mysterious killer also felt tacked on, because it was clear that Evie and Luc’s burgeoning romance was the only story this book wanted to tell.
So if you enjoy YA paranormal fiction where the romance is the focus, then The Darkest Star is a book you might want to take a look at. Unfortunately, it was just not to my personal tastes. Even if I were to find myself in the mood for this kind of novel, I would have preferred a bit more originality and better characters beyond the usual cookie-cutter variety. This was good for a light read, but nothing about it really stood out or helped it be memorable. I’m disappointed, because Armentrout is an author I’ve wanted to try for a while, but now that I know more about her writing style, I probably won’t seek out any more of her work.