So I have been sent a book call Star City by Edwin Peng for free to review. I am doing a book highlight first before I finish the book to give everyone a little taste of this science fiction adventure and to give you a little insight into the author by sharing an author interview!
It isn’t every day you read a debut novel that you know will be just the beginning of a successful career, but with Edwin Peng’s Star City (Evolved Publishing, December 4, 2017), it’s clear from page one that this book is something special. Star City is more than just a world-shaking sci-fi adventure for YA readers, with a dash of romance and a super cool alien race who happens to love blueberries. From Peng’s unique take on human/alien first contact, to his diverse cast of characters, and a protagonist with strong ties to her STEM roots, the book feels lively and well thought out on every level.
Synopsis: Eighteen year old Emma Smith is exactly where she wants to be: she’s headed to the University of Nebraska with a full scholarship to, and on top of that she’s been selected by the U.S government to participate in an exclusive medical research project. The project, as it turns out, isn’t an average college internship. Emma has been selected as a student ambassador to liaise with the Ba’ren, an alien race that has recently made contact with Earth in order to share medical technology. The project will kick start Emma’s biomedical engineering career, as well as give her a chance to interact with this mysterious alien race she – and all of humanity – are very curious about.
Unfortunately for Emma, her Ba’ren counterpart, Sepporinen, has very little interest in her humanity as a whole. He is most excited about the opportunity to explore and mine the asteroids of Earth’s solar system, but is compelled by his government to take part in the research project. As the two work together, they begin to draw closer, and form a friendship – and perhaps more. In the meantime, they discover far more is at stake with their project than what their respective governments have let on. Political and cultural clashes between the humans and the Ba’ren intensify, and Emma and Sepporinen must risk everything to help maintain the fragile peace between their two species.
Star City is the best kind of YA – it encourages readers to enjoy the story, and yet to think beyond its pages. Fans of Rick Yancey, Melissa Landers, and Claudia Grey Alexandra Bracken will gravitate towards this series, and will be so glad that they discovered Edwin Peng, a debut author we’ll certainly be hearing more from.
What inspired you to write Star City?
Edwin Peng: I have always loved YA, so that’s the genre that I always knew I would write. I really hope that my fandom shines through, but at the same time that my novel is different than what’s currently out there. The other thing that inspired this novel was my experience in the highly competitive Early Entrance Program at California State University, Los Angeles. I was 13 when I went to college, which is a little bit out of the ordinary (to say the least!). Some of the very smart, very driven, and very geeky characters in my novel are loosely based on that experience.
Why did you choose to set the book in Nebraska?
Peng: I moved to Lincoln, NE five years ago. I are to love this state and its people. One of my favourite books is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. There are enough books – not to mention movies and TV shows – set in New York City or Los Angeles. I believe there should be more novels set in “unpopular” places such as Nebraska.
What do you hope readers will take away from this novel?
Peng: My hope is that Star City provides pertinent social commentary and challenges the average YA reader’s preconceptions while still delivering a funny and exciting story. The most obvious theme of the Ibook is the need for peaceful relations with other cultures. In our increasingly connected world, we must be much more understanding and tolerant of others.
Why was it important for you to feature a diverse set of characters in the series?
Peng: Traditional publishing, especially within the young adult genre, has a long history of excluding marginalized groups, both in their fiction and for real life readers and authors. In the rare instance that a young adult novel features minority/lower class/LGBT+ characters, they are often stereotyped and/or whitewashed on the cover or movie adaptation. The Star City series fights for diversity with many, non-stereotypical characters, who readers from marginalized groups can identify with.
When you’re not writing, what do you do?
Peng: I am a postdoc doing materials engineering research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Some of the alien technologies in Star City actually are inspired by the research I’m doing!
Connect with Edwin Peng at www.edwinpeng.com, on Twitter @edwinPeng88, Facebook, and Instagram @edwinpeng88.
Star City can be purchased on Amazon:
Disclaimer: All copy was provided by Smith Publicity and they own the rights to the materials provided.
I hope to talk to you bookworms soon about this one when I am finished it.