Review Blog

Aug 07 2014

As stars fall by Christie Nieman

cover image

Pan Macmillan Australia, 2014. ISBN 9781743517697.
(Age: 13+) As stars fall is the first book authored by Australian Christie Nieman. The story is set in modern day Victoria with the location switching between the city, presumably Melbourne, and a rural area nearby. A bushfire ravages the countryside and a woman studying the local fauna is killed. This woman is Delia and Seth's mother, and consequently the events in the book happen after the death.
The novel explores how grief is dealt with by those closest to the tragedy by providing a unique perspective told from Delia and Seth's point of view. Throughout the book, there are many parallels relating these events to the ecosystem, with Delia and Seth's mother's notes providing clear and interesting insight into the scientific side of nature.
I thought that overall, the novel was a very good stand-alone book. The setting and premise of the story were very refreshing and at most times an enjoyable read. The plot surrounding the bush stone curlew was very well thought out and told convincingly, making you forget how unlikely it was. On the flip side, there were times that I felt like it was a chore to read, mainly in the chapters told from Seth's point of view when he was high from the 'angel joints'. After I finished the book, I was surprised - it seemed like the story ended without a full resolution (especially in Seth's case) but this ending provided a kind of mystery and allows your own take on what could happen next.
Teaching this book to a high school class would allow students to expand their knowledge of the Australian environment, while also exploring characters' relationships and how certain events can alter someone. I would recommend this book to any who enjoy realistic Australian fiction, or anyone who has an interest in nature. The writing and setting reminded me of the Tomorrow series by John Marsden, so any who enjoyed those books I think would enjoy As stars fall.
Sara Mitchell (Student)

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