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Stray

by Andrea K. Höst

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Touchstone (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3022868,078 (4.23)3
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?… (more)
  1. 00
    So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: The particular blend of science fiction, fantasy, and modern day life, the personal and the epic, feels similar in both of these series and universes to me.
  2. 00
    Linked by Lisa Alden (quincidence)
    quincidence: A young girl, a new circumstances, some hard life choices to make. I think you will enjoy seeing what a girl who has expectations thrown on her, does with her new environment.
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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I need to say up front that I received this book for free from BookRooster.com.

Cassandra is an Australian girl who walks through a sort of wormhole on her way home from school, and ends up on a completely different planet. She manages to make her way through the forests she initially stepped into, and winds up in what appears to be an abandoned city, encountering various animals and plants that resemble some on Earth along the way. She is finally "rescued" by a people from a nearby planet, who tell her she's a "stray" -- a person who wanders from their own planet/space-time and into another. When it is discovered that Cass has the ability to enhance the psychic powers of the people on this new planet, she takes on a special role with them.

I very much enjoyed this book. It was well-written and well-edited, which have been problems with recent ebooks I've read. The story is told completely from Cass' point of view, via her journal. She is very resourceful, managing to stay alive on an unknown planet completely by herself -- but still falls into funks on occasion, especially when she's feeling particularly like a lab rat.

As another reviewer on Goodreads pointed out, this is quite unlike other popular YA fiction in that there's no love triangle. In fact, there's no romance at all, other than Cass' crush on one of the people she's working with. While part of me was rooting for her to break through Ruuel's tough exterior, for the most part I was happy that wasn't a focus of the story; it really couldn't be for the story to remain true to the plot.

I was intrigued by the concept of the Ena, near-space, far-space, and the Ionoth. It seemed like the Setari spent most of their time battling bad memories. Quite a metaphor, that. I wondered a number of times throughout the book at the ethics of the Taren's fight against the Ionoth, especially during the mission in which they were attacked by the "white-gray hairy" Ionoth. Were the Setari really protecting themselves and others, or were they invading another world and killing the inhabitants. Although the Setari said their scan indicated that the hairy humanoids were from another area, it seems like those Ionoth may have been acting simply to defend themselves. Perhaps that question will be answered in the next book.

Sigh. Next book. Perhaps I'm getting old and jaded, but I remember a time when a book was just a book, not part of a trilogy, and the whole story was told in one shot. Yes, this is the first of a trilogy. I should have confirmed that before I started, but I chose to be blissfully ignorant. I will probably read the next two books, at some point, to hopefully clear up some of my questions, but I can't help but feel a little like a sucker for getting, well, sucked in by another series. Does everything really have to be a series these days? Can't authors try to pare themselves down to one book? I'm getting skeptical enough to believe that this is done solely for money-making purposes, rather than a real need for a story to take up more than one volume. Feel free to argue with me about that. ( )
  ssperson | Apr 3, 2021 |
The recommendation for this book said that the world-building was fantastic and the emotional characterization was spot-on. That rec was absolutely on-point. Stray is the diary of a young Earth teen who unknowingly strolls through a rift in space and ends up on an abandoned world. At first she records her survival and then she records her meeting with people from another world and the discoveries she makes about them and herself. I fell into this book and enjoyed the hell out of it. ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
A Sydney teenager walking home from school finds herself, without any warning, in an uninhabited forest. On what she quickly works out is an alien planet. A post-apocalyptic uninhabited alien planet. Cassandra struggles to survive by herself until she's rescued by a group of people who turn out to have psychic abilities.

Stray is utterly gripping. (As is the sequel, Lab Rat One.) I loved the "Survivor Cass" section, in which Cass is trying to survive in an alien forest, with just her school uniform and the contents of her school bag. (She has a notebook with her, which allows her to keep a diary.)

And then she gets rescued and things become even more complicated. She can't speak the language of her rescuers, and so they treat her like she has the rights of the child - lots of things happen to her without her consent or even without her really understanding what is going on. She has very little privacy or control; she's just a stray. Once they discover that Cass can be useful to them, she experiences even less agency and privacy - but certainly more drama.

"Character deals with dramatic loss of agency and has to navigate building meaningful in the face of a power imbalance" is a situation I find compelling, fascinating, and it's something Höst does really well.

Other things I liked: the worldbuilding; the technology, its limitations and ethical issues and how it shapes their society; the cross-cultural issues Cass faces; the friendships amongst the Setari and the friendships Cass builds; the teamwork; Cass's perspective, resourcefulness and sense of humour; and the believability of her diary.

Since I first read this, I've made a point of reading all of Höst's novels. ( )
  Herenya | Mar 29, 2016 |
Really unusual, but you end up very much invested in the character's journey. I immediately bought book #2 to continue reading. Love author's voice! Review coming... ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
Read the full Review at Witchmag's Boekenplank

First of all, I really love the cover! It is very beautifully drawn and that is what attracted me initially to this book. I just did not expect it would go towards SF, I was thinking more of a fantasy story. Normally I’m not so fond off reading SF, but this story is a huge exception ;) . It was very fun to read and what an intriguing world! All these powers! And then there were the Ionoth, who are very creepy monsters. Everything was so detailed and believable! I could really imagine that a world like that existed!

I was only very confused by all the different powers the people have and I still do not fully understand how the spaces work. There is a glossary, but as my loyal readers know I’m not really a fan of those, because when you read an eBook it takes more time to switch between the story and the glossary ;) . Add to that, the fact that the story is written in diary form and Cass does not always tells things chronological and you have a very confusing me, who’s thinking WTF is going on here?? Although it’s explained later, I still don’t like losing the thread of the story.

Cass is not your usual YA heroine. She nags and does not seem to develop deep feelings for her “saviors.” This was very refreshing to read. How she behaves when she’s all alone in the wilderness is very impressive. Okay, she admits she cried occasionally, but who can blame her? However she remains just a little too trusting and undergoes all tests always without grumbling. After a while wouldn’t you start making some ruckus? Especially if you’re treated like a “lab rat” ? Oh well, that’s simply not her character, although I hope she spices a bit up in the second book ;)

Overall rating 3 hearts. I wanted to give it 4, but the story was sometimes too confusing for me to follow it, so it’s rounded down. It is a very innovative and interesting book to read and I’m definitely looking forward to the next in the series! Which hopefully has some romance in it, because although I did not miss it in this book, I would find it more fun to read about it in the next one;) ( )
  Iris-Boekenplank | Nov 3, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andrea K. Höstprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dominic, SimonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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?

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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?
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