Stray by Andrea K. Höst
Narrator: Stephanie Macfie
Series: Touchstone #1
Publication Date: March 20, 2011
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler » Yes « Hide Spoiler
Content Warning: View Spoiler » Kidnapping, Imprisonment, Survival, Body Modification « Hide Spoiler
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 9 hours and 50 minutes
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On her last day of high school, Cassandra Devlin walked out of exams and into a forest. Surrounded by the wrong sort of trees, and animals never featured in any nature documentary, Cass is only sure of one thing; alone, she will be lucky to survive.
The sprawl of abandoned blockish buildings Cass discovers offers her only more puzzles. Where are the people? What is the intoxicating mist which drifts off the buildings in the moonlight? And why does she feel like she's being watched?
Increasingly unnerved, Cass is overjoyed at the arrival of the formidable Setari. Whisked to a world as technologically advanced as the first was primitive, where nanotech computers are grown inside people's skulls, and few have any interest in venturing outside the enormous whitestone cities, Cass finds herself processed as a 'stray', a refugee displaced by the gates torn between worlds. Struggling with an unfamiliar language and culture, she must adapt to virtual classrooms, friends who can teleport, and the ingrained attitude that strays are backward and slow.
Can Cass ever find her way home? And after the people of her new world discover her unexpected value, will they be willing to let her leave?
Stray (Touchstone #1) by Andrea K. Höst was recommended by reader Kareni. At the time of this writing it is free for Kindle. I tried reading it several times, but never fell into the story and always ended up setting it aside. The first 1/4 or so of the book is fairly slow. It’s told in the form of diary entries, and the early portions were slow, with no dialogue to break up the monotony. I’m glad I pushed through, however, since I really ended up enjoying the story.
Cassandra Devlin is walking home from her last day of high school in Australia when she is suddenly….somewhere else. A strange land not-unlike Earth, but perhaps also not Earth. After weeks of surviving on her own on this abandoned planet, she is rescued and taken to a new, technologically advanced planet, Tare, where she’s treated as a stray – a displaced refugee. She’s implanted with an interface that helps her translate their language, but leaves her without privacy. She also starts developing strange and wonderous gifts, which she’s told isn’t uncommon in strays, though never to this degree. Paired with the Setari, psychically advances special ops soldiers, because of her emerging abilities as an enhancer (touching her gives the Setari a power boost), Cassandra learns there is a shadow-type land that separates our world from all others. Tears have started to happen between worlds, which allow Ionnoth, deadly shadow monsters capable of destroying entries worlds through. The Setari fight these monsters to keep the Tareans and all others safe. When the Tareans realize Cassandra may hold the key to unlocking their home world (the planet she spent weeks surviving alone), she’s watched even more closely. She’ll have to decide
The difficulties Cassandra deals with as a stray, and as a person who has developing abilities the Tareans haven’t dealt with before, were interesting to read about. There are so many different threads – Cassandra’s lack of privacy and the way she feels she’s “punished” and put in a box when she’s sent to medical, the tears between worlds and the battles they face, the quest the Tareans are on to reclaim their home world with the help of Cassandra, etc. This is a complex plot in a multifaceted world. Frankly, I still don’t have all the terms and names straight and at times I find it to be slow moving, but I am invested in Cassandra and her journey. I can’t wait for the next book.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5