I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh
Published by Disney Electronic Content on October 9th 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Renaissance, General, People & Places, Europe
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Fate: Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born? Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands? Jepp of Astraveld needs to know. He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks Jepp's heart to see his friend Lia suffer. After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a kidnapper's carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars may lead him. But he can't even begin to imagine the brilliant and eccentric new master—a man devoted to uncovering the secrets of the stars—who awaits him. Or the girl who will help him mend his heart and unearth the long-buried secrets of his past. Masterfully written, grippingly paced, and inspired by real historical characters, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is the tale of an extraordinary hero and his inspiring quest to become the master of his own destiny.
Jepp, Who Defied The Stars by Katherine Marsh has my favorite cover of 2012, seriously this book had me in fits of cover lust when I first saw it. I just love everything about it. However, as we all know, the most important part of a book is not a cover, but what’s inside. The story of Jepp, court dwarf, is melancholy and depressing, but ultimately uplifting. It’s about the human spirit and leaping over barriers, metaphorically. It’s about life and love. It’s just so different from other books in the YA market, and you know, looking back a few months after finally reading Jepp, Who Defied The Stars, it’s actually a pretty superb book, now that I really sit down and think about all the things I really liked it. You see, this isn’t a book where I was like OMG I love this so much while reading, I actually kind of struggled through it, but afterwards, once the story finally sinks in, it’s pretty great.
Because it has been several months since May, when I read Jepp Who Defied The Stars, I am going to do the best I can with describing plot but it won’t be nearly as detailed as usual. So, Jepp is born and raised in Astroveld and he leads a happy life with his mother, dad is not in the picture, living and working at an inn. One day, his life changes, as he is taken from his childhood home and brought to the Spanish Infanta’s palace, to inhabit what might as well be a gilded cage. You see, Jepp is there as a court dwarf for the amusement of the Infanta. It’s a luxurious life, yes, but also a hard one. You see, he has no freedom. He does eventually love, but well, it doesn’t play out how you would expect. Yet, Jepp dares to dream and dares to escape — ending up in Tycho Brahe’s estate, where again he’s treated like crap, but where he will eventually become master of his own fate. It’s a beautiful, dangerous adventure that Jepp embarks on, but one that’s meaningful and definitely worth your reading time.
Straight up, Jepp is a badass, but not like an overt in your face bad ass. More, he’s stubborn, but not in an annoying way. Instead, he doesn’t let himself get beaten down by the awful hand he’s been dealt in life. Instead, he’s like, listen world I am awesome. Actually, he’s kind of like the YA Tyrion Lannister, only he’s not from a rich and powerful family YET he uses his intellect to get ahead, much like Tyrion does. So, if you’ve ever been like hmmm, I want to read a book all about Tyrion, this is kind of a good substitute for that. I just loved how Jepp had vulnerable moments but they weren’t used to paint him as weak, but to paint him as human. And yes, he’s a little person. What of it. He’s someone who absolutely carries this story and really just made me think about different things. I loved it.
The cool thing about Jepp, Who Defied The Stars is how frickin smart it is on multiple levels. The first level is that the book explores a part of history that is so fascinating and that is scientific history. You guys, I totally used to kind of zone out during science class unless we were watching Bill Nye or we were learning about the history of science, like about the heliotropic model and such. I loved that stuff. Marsh’s book goes into detail on astronomy and the role it played in history and how people used to think their destiny was literally charted by the stars. It’s so clever and of course, after reading you’ll be like I GET THE TITLE!
Another intelligent aspect of Jepp Who Defied The Stars is this sort of free will vs. fate debate that takes place within the pages. I am one of those people who believes more strongly in free will than I do in fate, so I thought it was fascinating to see both sides of the argument and to see someone, like Jepp, who is willing to buck convention which says he’s fated to fail because of his “limitations” and to see him go above and beyond. I know I am talking in circles right now — I am consuming grown up drinks as I write this review because that’s how I roll, but trust, this book is just so smart and cerebral. I think that precocious youths will like it, especially the ones who are into things like big ideas and what not. Just don’t read this if you aren’t a patient reader and can’t stomach slow books, because again, it’s more of a thinking than a doing book. Give it a shot though, even if it takes you more than a week to finish. Just be patient. It was worth it.
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