THE STARS NEVER RISE by Rachel Vincent

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Ever since the Great War in which the humans defeated the demons, the Unified Church has controlled the lives of every citizen. The Church controls the media, the schools, the jobs, and the law enforcement.  And if they ever found out about Nina’s mother’s mental illness and the years of back taxes that they owe, life would be over for Nina and her sister Melanie.  Nina does what she can to make ends meet, even when it means dodging around the law, but when Melanie gets pregnant–unmarried and without a license to procreate–Nina isn’t sure if there is anything she can do to protect her sister and her unborn child from the brutal punishment of the Church.  But when demons return to her hometown, along with a group of teenage Exorcists, Nina realizes that her troubles are far deeper than she could ever have imagined.

Copious explication in the first two thirds of the book made it difficult for me to get into this dystopian fantasy.  Now that most of the details of the world have been explained, I expect the rest of the series will run more smoothly. It is certainly an intense premise.  This book is likely to appeal to readers who enjoy paranormal romance and dystopian novels. 

Some readers may find the portray of the evil church troubling. The Unified Church does resemble some Christian churches of today. The hierarchy includes priests, deacons, brothers, and sisters. There is much discussion of sin and penance, but to an extreme degree, reminiscent of the Inquisition.  But as far as I can tell, the Unified Church is not Christian.  They do not discuss Christ, or even God.  It seems to be a purely political, anti-demon establishment.  And it espouses some beliefs that are an exaggerated opposite of most Christian churches today (enforced sterilization of children, discouragement of procreation, encouragement of euthanasia/suicide).  So the novel seems to be commenting on organized religion and a few specific moral beliefs rather than on religious belief in general.  Certainly in the morality of the novel, hell is portrayed as 100% bad and human life/souls (even the unborn) as something to be treasured.  Hopefully this info will help you decide if this book is a good fit for you!

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