The Stars Fell Sideways by Cassandra Marshall is a quick, fun read at around 200 pages. The narrator, Alison, was likable and relatable, and I found myself genuinely worried about her at certain times in the story. Her stunt-double training was a welcome excuse for her agility and strength, unlike many plucky heroines who are able to overcome physical adversity. The other characters were fine, though none of them had as much depth as Alison. Even the main love interest fell a little flat at first.
At first is the operative word, though. What starts as a light, fluffy book begins to evolve and take on more depth the farther in you go. I can honestly say that the ideas are original and ingenious. I was unable to guess many of the twists the plot took, which is pretty impressive since I pride myself on being able to figure out such things. I did have a teensy complaint about the ending, though. I know that's how the characters would have acted, but I couldn't help feeling let down. I won't spoil it because it was a nice ending -- I was just hoping for something more... Run toward each other in slow motion on a crowded dock, spinning around in circles and making hokey promises. Yeah, I'm that kind of girl.
On a world building note, I've seen people refer to this book as "lite steampunk" but I have to disagree. There is very little that can qualify as "steampunk" in this novel, and most of it stays in the background. Maybe I'm just jaded by the popularity of said genre right now, or maybe I'm too inundated. A few things strained my credulity, like how long Pom's iPhone stayed charged and the fact that they had explosives but not guns. Overall, though, Ms. Marshall did an excellent job of world building. As I said before (using totally different words) the concept of the story is fresh and unique and well done, if a little short. I felt the plot could have been beefed up just a bit more, but as it is the book is a quick four-star read for a Sunday afternoon.