Starglass (Starglass, #1) - Phoebe North Starglass is surprising. It’s seemingly a pretty formulaic YA novel. There’s an awkward heroine with the typical YA tropes: she’s unsure of herself, worried about her future, and pluckily desperate to overturn the current social system. There’s a love triangle—well, sort of—and the plot itself is simple to follow. But beneath the stereotypical exterior, Starglass ends up being quite different from the usual, and that’s what I most appreciated about it.For example, take the two love interests. Normally, YA boys are gooey constructions manufactured to make young female hearts sputter wildly, but the boys in this novel are frustrating…and not in a sexual way. I wanted to punch both of them at times, which I found oddly refreshing. Perfect teenage boys do not exist, so they shouldn’t exist in the fictional realm. One love interest in particular reminded me of every spoiled, elitist prep school boy that I’ve had the misfortune of attending school with, and I loved it. It was cathartic to hate him, and not in a I-hate-you-but-also-find-your-arrogant-wiles-attractive way but in a pure I-hate-you-so-much-it-makes-me-want-to-stick-my-hand-in-a-blender way.The other characters defy likeability standards as well. The story begins with the death of Terra’s mother, but instead of lionizing the mother, North paints her character ambiguously. My feelings about every character are ambivalent, which I think relates to North’s overall theme: things aren’t cut and dry. Everyone is a mix of good and bad, so we must act in line with moral standards we’ve personally determined to be acceptable.My second favorite thing is the discussion of sundry social issues. A small population living on a spaceship for several centuries is bound to live by a stringent social code; it’s necessary for survival. As a result, Starglass deals with homosexuality, the right to choose a spouse, reproductive rights, and more mundane but equally important rights, like the choice of where we want to live and what we want to eat. These are complicated issues and again, North writes about them with an ambiguous hand. She doesn’t simplify the issues by saying, “Well of course we should ALWAYS have absolute liberty to do what we want.” She makes it clear that it’s often impossible to satisfy everyone, which is exacerbated in claustrophobic conditions like those of a spaceship. Unfortunately, certain plot reveals were way too obvious. In general, the pacing and plotting were shaky. I was disengaged for the first part of the book and then entertained off and on until the end. Things lag interminably and then develop too quickly. The pacing is just bizarre. Near the end, however, the pace began to roar and I found myself surprised by the direction the plot turned. The ending is unquestionably awesome. My reaction to Starglass is mostly lukewarm, but because of the surprising twists at the end and North’s skewering of YA tropes, I can’t wait for the second installment in this duology. Also I haven’t mentioned it yet but the spaceship in Starglass? It’s a Jewish spaceship. JEWISH. SPACESHIP. Enough said.