Hi Virtually Readers! I like to read and review hyped books because a) more people have read them therefore are interested in my (very correct obviously) opinion and b) because I want to know what the hype is all about. The Sun Is Also A Star was one of those books.
Title: The Sun Is Also A Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: YA contemporary
Themes: philosophy, physics, love, coincidence, korean-children-whose-parents-want-them-to-go-to-Ivy-Leagues
My blurb: Daniel and Natasha meet on the day she’s being deported as an illegal immigrant. Can they possibly be ‘meant to be’? Over a day of love, angst and philosophical discussion, they’re going to find out.
No spoilers, but to keep you intrigued, THE ENDING WAS A-MA-ZING. It was hopeful and true and poingnant. Anyway.
I saw quite a few reviews of this before I read it. Some loved it. Others were concerned about the instalove. I can’t deny that the characters falling in love was very fast, but it worked. For example, they discuss this science experiment asking what questions people need to ask each other while looking in to each others eyes to fall in love. In a way, this book was more like a character study. What can we learn about someone just by seeing what they do in one day? The whole book was an exquisite tapestry of intertwined philosophy and character. It asked important questions like: Who are we? and Where do we belong? It wasn’t realistic, but somehow, to me, said something very true about the world.
There were two MC narrators (Natasha and Daniel) and a 3rd person narrator. These three voices worked together to sculpt an amazing story of coincidence, love, and hope. The plot wasn’t the point; the entire story occurs over the course of a day, so while a lot happens, the ‘pauses’ of intellectual discussion and history by the 3rd person narrator worked really well. No, it wasn’t realistic. That was okay.
I’m a science nerd, like Natasha. Daniel’s a poet (I guess I write stuff including poetry too, but I’m not really quite as romantic as he is). I really enjoyed the back-and-forth discussions between Natasha, who wants things she can prove, and Daniel, who believes in silly figurative ideas like true love. The title comes from the idea that with the billion coincidences necessary for the universe (and as a biology person, I might add: life on earth) to exist, then everything needed for ‘meant to be’ love to occur isn’t such a miracle after all. It illustrates why I believe in God: science can explain the how but not the why of existence, whether the universe or love. And science and metaphor can coexist.
The characters: Daniel especially was SO CUTE. I listened to the audiobook, which had three amazing voice actors. The Daniel person had lovely voice inflections, and Natasha sounded so self-righteous.
The setting was the least interesting part of the book. While TSiAaS captured New York pretty well to my knowledge, and there were some interesting scenes like dancers on the subway, and violinist busking on the street and the view from a skyscraper roof, the setting just wasn’t super interesting, especially since there are a lot of books set in NYC.
Shoutout for diversity: Daniel was Korean-American, and Natasha was Jamaican. I don’t recall any LGBTQ+ or ability representation, but I just liked that the characters weren’t ordinary white middle class people.
Altogether TSiAaS was a brilliant, philosophical book that I adored and you should read.
Writing style: 4/5
Have you read this? Do you think you’re going to? How do you feel about instalove? About realism in books? What’s a diverse contemporary you’ve read recently?