Whatcha reading? The Star Dwellers by David Estes

The second installment of a trilogy can be tricky. The author can’t assume too much about what readers remember from the first one, but there may be readers who pick up the second one, not realizing (or remembering) that it is a sequel. That balancing act must teeter between boring old or confusing new readers. At the other end of the novel, a “middle child” can’t have a true ending either, because the third and final installment lurks right around the corner. At worst the second of three feels like nothing more than a bridge between the first and third, a necessary journey to travel to get to the real action. The best trilogies manage these challenges with style and grace, and perhaps most impressively, a truly great second act.

The Star Dwellers by David Estes takes a popular approach to the first concern and combines old and new material seamlessly in order to get the action going. Estes as usual has plenty of action. I also like his characters, even though dystopian is oddly beginning to feel a bit dated to me, despite its futuristic aims, perhaps because of its very plentitude. A quick glance at the multiplexes over the past year yields six—yes, six—dystopian film versions of dystopian novels, all trilogies. Three is indeed the magic number (unless you are The Hunger Games franchise, and then the magic number is apparently four). Back to Estes’s characters, of which of course Adele the rebel and Tristan the elite are primary, but I actually prefer the supporting cast, namely Tawni, Cole (boo hoo hoo), Roc, Elsey, and Ben. Then there are the missing mothers—three of them, no less—and I am a sucker for missing mothers. What I do like about Adele and Tristan is their literal physical bond, that electricity that we have all felt in a new relationship made actual and truly painful, like a third party in the room without the need for a love triangle.

What I think is really clever about this trilogy? Setting each book in a different realm of the Tri-Realms gives new purpose and forward momentum to each installment, plus it changes up a number of otherwise fixed elements such as locale and what and who to expect in said setting, which propels the story in addition to the action. Did I mention that there is plenty of action?

Will I read The Sun Dwellers? Absolutely.

For more on dystopian trilogies from an earlier blog entry, see here.

If you want to see my rating you can follow me on Goodreads. I’ll do each installment individually. I rate every book I read.


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