I was gutted to have not picked up a copy of this at YALC last month and was so annoyed with myself! It isn’t out until September but they had early paperbacks for sale but in the huge rush of YALC I missed out on buying a copy. However I was so lucky to get a copy via NetGalley and dived straight in!
I have a lot I want to say about this novel so this could be a long one!
Counting Stars centres around Anna who moves to Liverpool to start working in a theatre whilst all of her peers are off to university. Anna doesn’t care that she’s not doing the whole ‘uni thing’, after all she’s got a guaranteed job at the place she did her work experience so knows that she’s going to love it. She moves into a house share in Liverpool and meets the eclectic cast of characters that make up the house. There’s Alfie, a hard working, over worked barista and student. Then Nina, who works in a hotel but should be at college. Then there’s Sean and Molly. Both who are students and are focused on their love lives.
As the plot progresses we see a whole host of obstacles stand up in front of Anna and the exciting adult dream of moving away from home doesn’t quite work out how she planned. But with her new friends, Anna finds that sometimes the best things in life are the things you don’t plan!
Ok, so I loved this book but equally had a lot of problems with it.
My biggest issue is that SO MUCH happens in this plot. There are sooooo many side plots with all of the different characters and whilst that means there’s never a dull moment, it felt that everything happened too quickly, nothing was explored in enough detail and everything was resolved too quickly. This cast of characters would lend themselves perfectly to a series of books and it would have been so nice to have one book per character rather than trying to fit all of their stories into this one. Perhaps Counting Stars could have been made longer? It just felt that really important and serious issues that Stainton brings up aren’t dealt with in enough detail before we jump onto the next problem. Perhaps this was the idea to keep the plot moving and mainly positive but I just think a trick was missed! There could have been a whole series of books around these characters. Also, one other niggle, the title was a little ambiguous. I’m not entirely sure that it suited the content of the book but that’s just a small thing!
There was so much I loved about this book though.
I loved the realistic portrayal of life away from home. It’s not a walk in the park and even though Anna seems to glide through it, it doesn’t make it seem easy. Anna’s flatmates all represent something different, there’s the token gay friend, the hot guy, the girl who’s a little shy and then the girl who’s got it all. They all are plagued with their own demons and as the saying so often goes, just because they look ok and happy on the outside, it doesn’t mean they’ve not got a lot going on in their lives that is hard. And I liked that Stainton made sure each character had something that was a challenge for them but like mentioned above, it would have been nice to have those explored even more.
The pace of this novel was perfect and I kept saying ‘just one more chapter’ but ended up finding myself still reading ten chapters later! It was really hard to put down as I became so invested in all of the characters and their different stories that I read this book in just two sittings!
Stainton has a really lovely writing style that makes her novels so easy to read – there are no jarring moments or sentences that you have to re-read to pick up the meaning and I love a book that has such a natural flow. Although, saying that, there were a few shocks in the plot that really did make me stop and re-read about a million times to make sure I wasn’t going mad and what was happening was actually happening!!
Counting Stars is a really great book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However I would have loved to see this book divided into five or six separate books each one exploring a different character and a different issue.