Formerly 'The Mile Long Bookshelf'

Monday, 16 December 2013

Stella by Helen Eve

Title: Stella
Author: Helen Eve
Published by: Macmillan
Publication date: 2nd January 2014
Pages: 361
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Seventeen-year-old Stella Hamilton is the star blazing at the heart of Temperley High. Leader of the maliciously exclusive elite, she is surrounded by adulation, envied and lusted after in equal measure. And she is in the final stage of a five-year campaign to achieve her destiny: love with her equally popular male equivalent, and triumph as Head Girl on election night.

By contrast, new girl Caitlin Clarke has until now lived a quietly conformist life in New York. With the collapse of her parents' marriage she has been sent across the Atlantic for an English boarding-school education, only to discover that at Temperley the only important rules are the unwritten ones. It's a world of the beautiful and the dangerous, and acceptance means staying on the right side of Stella Hamilton, the most beautiful and dangerous of them all.

Not everyone is happy to be under the Hamilton rule. But fighting the system means treading the same dark path as Stella - and if Caitlin puts a foot wrong, it's a long way to fall...

Hmm...where to begin. The summary is long and detailed enough that I'm just going to jump straight in with what I thought about Stella, and wow, do I have a lot of thoughts on the matter.

Stella started off promisingly with a fresh voice that took me pleasantly by surprise and my first thought was 'This is good!' Sadly, it all went downhill from there and the prologue was honestly the only bit of the book I found myself enjoying.

The language in this book is more Middle-Grade than YA - it was boring and flat, and more often than not I found myself drifting back onto Twitter which doesn't happen when you're reading a good book! Good books keep you engrossed in the story and sadly, this book just didn't deliver. I didn't care about any of the characters; I'd liked Caitlin at first but to see her change into such an annoying and transparent character was almost unbearable. All of the little love triangles were confusing, too. Luke, Edward; a countless amount of boys whom Stella was either dating or secretly liked. She had a secret agenda with each of them - some of them she used to get more popular, some of them she used to help her in the school election - and I'm still not overly sure whether she actually liked any of them.

When writing a book, there's generally a rule: 'Don't give characters similar names." This book was plagued with similar names and I now understand why that rule is in place - it's so confusing! All of the names in Stella's family begin with S. There's her mother, Seraphina, and her sisters Siena and Syrena. For half of the book I thought Siena was Stella's younger sister, but she's actually older, so there's a hint for you if you're going to read it. Another confusing thing about this book is that towards the end, Caitlin, Stella, Siena and Syrena kind of merged together in the way they looked, which made it very difficult to tell them apart. There's a particular scene where no names are mentioned and we can only tell who is who by the way they are described. Well, guess what? They all look the same and it's not like either of them had their own voice.

Quite frankly, this book is boring. If you've been reading this blog from the start, you'll know how much I hate writing negative reviews. I always try to point out positives so the review ends up balanced, but I just can't with this book. I really don't recommend it at all and I feel like reading it was a complete waste of time. If you like plot driven books then Stella isn't for you, but then again there isn't much description either. It's really quite bland, like cornflakes. This book did have some funny, snappy one-liners but that hardly makes up for the lack of enjoyment I had whilst reading this. At the time of writing this review (December 11th) the book has an average rating of 1/5 on Goodreads and I can't say I'm at all surprised.



  1. Loved the review. Laughed at the whole thing. Awesome amber.

    - Nova

  2. I must say that I do like the cover and it looks kind of promising. Too bad it didn't work out for you, Amber! I hope you'll have more luck with the next book :)

    1. I quite like the cover, too. Unfortunately the ARC cover is just plain and pink... Thanks Sandra! :)

  3. Awww, that's a shame - the description make this book sound really appealing - think I'll be staying away from it though! Great review :)

    1. I agree, it does. The press release described it as a 'dark YA thriller' which intrigued me, but there was nothing dark or thrilling about this book. Thanks Jesse! :)

  4. Brilliant review, Amber! I agree with most of your thoughts, but for some reason I didn't 'hate' this novel. Was fun reading it with you and Hawwa! :)

  5. Boo :( This didnt actually sound that bad, but sad you didnt like it. Saves me the time of reading it :P

  6. really sad to see you didn't enjoy this! :( I don't read many contemps, especially of this sort but stella did catch my eye a while ago because of the cover. It's a shame it wasn't that good :( Really well written review though! :) -added your new button to my sidebar by the way- I forgot to :D

  7. See, this sounds so good!! But from the way you've described it, no plot, no character formation..... No. I shall stay away, I think! Awesome review :)

  8. Well, I do hate cornflakes ;P I'll be steering well clear of this, it doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy anyway and your review has kind of clinched that for me. I hate writing negative reviews too but I must say that I do tend to enjoy reading them and I loved this one!

  9. I don't like writing negative reviews either, but man are they fun to read! Thanks for giving me another book to stray away from. I read the first few chapters and just wasn't motivated to read the rest. Even middle grade can be exciting & fun if the writer is any good...which it sounds like Helen Eve isn't. I'm surprised Macmillan made the choice to acquire it.


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