Last Star Burning

Last Star Burning

3.66 (789 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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"Rich and timely." --Aprilynne Pike, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"Incredibly immersive." --Kirkus Reviews
"A gripping tale of trust." --Booklist

To escape execution for a crime she didn't commit, sixteen-year-old Sev is forced to run away from the only home she's ever known in this "richly imagined" (BCCB, starred review) post-apocalyptic debut novel from Caitlin Sangster.

Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal--a star burned into her hand. That's the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother's body is displayed above Traitor's Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she's more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev's only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person--Howl, the chairman's son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can't help but wonder if he knows more about her past--and her mother's crimes--than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev's life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 157 x 229 x 33mm | 544g
  • English
  • 1481486136
  • 9781481486132
  • 1,048,125

Review quote

Eight years ago, Sev's mother betrayed her fortified city by bringing the plague that ravaged the world a century ago inside its walls, thus condemning her daughter to a lifetime of illness, hard labor, and "reeducation." Now, at sixteen, all Sev wants is to prove that she's not like her mother and deserves a place inside the city walls-- even the slums of the Third Quarter are better than the wilds Outside. No matter how she tries, Sev is marked as a traitor, as much by the distinctive birthmark on her face that matches her mother's as the brand burned into her hand. When she's accused of setting the bomb that nearly killed her and her friend Taige, the son of the prominent military family assigned to reeducate Sev, she flees the city with the help of Howl, the Chairman's son-turned-rebel. They make their way to a rebel outpost, and along the way Sev is confronted with truths--and lies--that unravel everything she thought she knew about her mother, her world, and herself. There's satisfying romantic tension in Sev's relationships with Tai-ge and Howl, but both remain secondary; the focus here is on Sev's attempt to understand her place and take control of her future when she's a pawn in dizzying machinations of those in power. Sev maintains an appealing resilience and humor despite her difficult life: she chooses to trust others despite having suffered betrayal, cracks jokes in the direst of circumstances, and acts altruistically despite being treated like garbage for much of her life. Sangster draws on her knowledge of Chinese history and culture (she discusses her influences in an author's note at the end) to build a richly imagined dystopia that brings new life to familiar tropes. An unexpected swerve in the final act will leave readers breathlessly waiting for the next volume. --BCCB *STARRED REVIEW "November 2017"
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About Caitlin Sangster

Caitlin Sangster is the author of the Last Star Burning trilogy and She Who Rides the Storm and the founder and cohost of the Lit Service podcast. She grew up in the backwoods of Northern California, has lived in China, Taiwan, Utah, and Montana and can often be found dragging her poor husband and four children onto hikes that feature far too many bears. You can find her online at
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Rating details

789 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 22% (173)
4 36% (286)
3 30% (234)
2 10% (81)
1 2% (15)
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