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Under Nameless Stars - Christian Schoon

I didn’t realize this book was second in a series until I was almost 25% through it. I haven’t read the first in the series, and when I requested it on Netgalley, it didn’t mention anything about a previous book. Given that I had no background knowledge on the characters or the world they live in, I enjoyed this book a good bit and feel that it could be read as a stand-alone novel.

The beginning was a bit rocky. The author tries to do a recap of things that happened in the previous book and provide additional information about Zenn's world. This is all well and good, but this kind of information is not something two people who are already acquainted would casually discuss. The result is a weird, forced chapter filled with dialogue that doesn't really fit the situation. However, since I did not read the first book, this information was essential to my understanding of the story, so I'm glad it was included.

The cast of characters reminded me of a Doctor Who episode with the variety of highly creative alien species Zenn encounters. I kept waiting for a Santaran to pop up with a gun and start yelling about war. My favorite alien (if you can really consider him that) was Jules, a dolphin with a walksuit which allows him to travel on land. His enthusiasm for earth history and incessant questions about customs and culture were refreshingly childish and at times laugh out loud hilarious.

I also really enjoyed Zenn as a character. Strange Chemistry always publishes such interesting books, and this one is no exception. I have never heard of any other books following the life of an alien veterinarian. The whole concept was so unique. The only thing that really frustrated me about Zenn was the fact that she kept totally forgetting Liam even existed. You are a stowaway on an alien ship with only one other person you know. Wouldn't you think you'd want to make sure they are okay and stick together? At the very least check to see if they're alive? Just seemed really strange to me.

The plot itself was a little too predictable at times, making the book feel more middle grade than young adult.  That being said, there were still plenty of plot twists and pace is maintained rather well. The only scenes that seemed to drag were those involving Zenn's special connection to animals.

Overall, this was a quick, light read with a very Doctor Who feel to it. The variety of alien species in the book and Zenn's veterinarian exploits were highly creative and unique. My only real disappointment was in the predictability and simplicity of the plot. The book was classified as young adult but I would recommend it more to a middle grade reading level.