Body of Stars

Laura Maylene Walter. Dutton, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-18305-2
In Walter’s uneven debut novel (after the collection Living Arrangements), she conjures a fabulist world in which female subjugation, gendered oppression, and rape culture are ever present. Celeste Morton is born like any other girl: with markings like constellations all over her body indicating what her future holds. As she reaches puberty, she comes into the so-called “changeling periods,” a weeks-long phase in which young women are irresistible to men. If they’re not careful, they could be kidnapped and raped. Celeste’s brother, Miles, aspires to become a professional interpreter of girls’ markings, a practice forbidden to men, and uses Celeste as training, but over time, Celeste’s adult markings contradict Miles’s prophecies, which foretell Miles will die at 21. Then, Celeste is abducted by two men, and, after waking up in a hospital covered in bruises, she’s forced to enter a rehabilitation program. Meanwhile, Miles’s insistence on becoming an interpreter catches the conservative government’s attention. While the worldbuilding details are impressive, the critique of rape culture feels shallow and cursory, and the overly earnest characterizations don’t help. Readers might want to pass. Agent: Erin Harris, Folio Literary Management. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/31/2020
Release date: 03/16/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-593-18306-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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