Stray (Touchstone 1)

Stray (Touchstone 1)
Andrea Höst, 2011

Premise: Cassandra Devlin was just walking home from school when she turned a corner and was suddenly in a forest, somewhere far away from where she had been. First order of business: survive. She is just starting to get a handle on her situation when she is rescued, but her rescuers? Aren't from Earth. Cass needs to figure out how to get along in their world long enough to maybe, just possibly, convince them to help her get home.

This intriguing sci-fi series is written in diary style, so we hear everything from Cass's perspective. Her voice is what really sells this book. It's a great combination of snarky humor, matter-of-fact description and the occasional sense that she's balancing on the edge between managing her surroundings and completely breaking down. I really loved the whole first section with her alone, using the diary as an outlet to stay grounded, trying to figure out what happened and what to do next.

I wasn't expecting the dimension-hopping society that rescues Cass to be made up of tech-heavy humans, many of whom are psychic. (I must not have read the description that carefully.) They were driven out from their original home by malevolent things from between the worlds, and there is an organization that protects their settlement from incursions from nearby areas, sort-of 'echo' dimensions. It's a cool idea, and it makes for a lot of fantastic description. I like the little spins on cliches that Ms. Host throws in. For example, of course (slight spoiler:) Cass ends up having a mental power in this psychic society, but how exactly it works was unexpected.

There is a lot of potential in the mystery of what if any relationship exists between Earth-humans and the Setari. They have some ideas, Cass has others. I really hope that is explored further in the coming books.

I did run into a little name confusion here and there once a lot of characters were being introduced at once. Also I was really thrown by one scene in the middle. It shook up what I thought I knew about the rules of the world so much that at first, I thought it was a dream sequence and it took me a bit to figure out what was going on.

I really liked that Cass is self-aware enough to often recognize when she is predisposed to an impression or a decision based on the television, books and other media she consumed on Earth. That doesn't mean she always makes smart choices, just that she can analyze her own reactions. The entire ending was very well played.

Overall a strong first volume, despite a few bumps here and there

4 Stars – A Really Good Book


  1. Sounds like a good one to read. I often don't get on with diary-style writing, but if the voice is strong then it might make up for it with me :) Thanks for the review!


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