space donuts and demonic bargains | light from uncommon stars by ryka aoki

by - 9:00 AM

For your music, the music you would die for—even give your soul for—is a music that not even Hell can hear.

     isbn: 9781250789068 | pages: 372
     publication date: September 27, 2021 | source: library
     genre: adult, science fiction, fantasy, lgbtqia+, fiction
     rating: 9/10

    A M A Z O N    |    G O O D R E A D S    |    B O O K S H O P * 
    B O O K D E P O S I T O R Y    |    B A R N E S A N D N O B L E S

the beauty of discovery
Light from Uncommon Stars was one of the last books I read in 2021 and quickly surprised me by becoming one of my favorite reads of all time. While I was initially wary going into this, the themes of self-discovery, love, family, and music completely captivated me from start to finish. We follow several characters on their own journeys of defining their worth and the purpose of their life in the grand scheme of social acceptance. 

Think of a piece of music. Is it not a miracle that each time the notes are played, the music is reborn?

Katrina Nguyen runs away from home at the start of the novel taking only her essentials and her violin. After years of abuse at home from her parents after coming out as transgender, she's decided to reconnect with someone she met at a LGBTQIA+ event in hopes of paving her own future. She doesn't expect to run into Shizuku Satomi, a renowned violin teacher nicknamed the Queen of Hell, at a park and becoming her final student. The relationship that grows between Shizuku and Katrina warmed my heart in so many ways - Shizuku has this reputation of being an untouchable genius and Katrina manages to break down that faรงade to expose both of their vulnerabilities. Their exploration of music honestly took my breath away and made me want to go to concert to just experience music and that is saying a lot coming from a slightly jaded music major who low-key fell asleep at all her required concerts during college. ๐Ÿ˜…

building your own family
This novel is also unapologetic in its descriptions of love amongst the characters and I adored that. As Katrina navigates her identity and learns her worth amidst the hatred and cruelty of the world, she finds a family that loves her and accepts her wholly. Shizuku's relationship with Lan also filled my heart with all the butterflies because for the first time, the Queen of Hell has a reason beyond her music to exist. I loved the exploration and juxtaposition of Katrina and Shizuku's journeys as our two main characters and seeing how they were able to take the shared love for music and define it in a way that fit their personality and character development. Katrina manages to redefine Shizuku's strict boundaries of what music can be while Shizuku is able to help Katrina unleash her potential to bring her music to life.

One does not play memories of music; one plays music itself. And lifetimes, from beginning to end, are as sheets of music, ready to be played.

I cannot write out my thoughts without also addressing the biggest component that compelled me to pick this up in the first place: Shizuku's bargain with Tremont. This was everything I wanted a Faustian bargain to be, the concept of giving Hell the souls of six insanely gifted musicians for the chance to be perform again and be remembered for one's music - literal chefs kiss. It tackles the idea behind the impact of music on the performer and the audience as well as the bridge that ties them together. This takes music and just gives it wings, as cliched as it sounds. Music is able to become this form of communication that allows those on the outside to see a part of Shizuku and Katrina's soul how their passion allows the music to take a piece of their heart and make it immortal in the ears of the audience.

What would happen if someone played their existence not only to its inevitable end, but also to its inevitable beginning? What if someone played their music to its inevitable everything?

Light from Uncommon Stars is a book that I want to read over and over again because it's simply beautiful. I adore the characters, the themes, and quite simply, how this made me feel alive. It has also given me an insane craving for a good donut and that's how you know a story is going be a timeless classic.

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  1. So this is why you were in such a rush to buy this book and from what I can see, the poeticness that is described as music makes me want to play paino again which is horrifying.

    1. IT IS SO GOOD! And how could piano be horrifying? Best instrument ever ๐Ÿ™ƒ