Why did I read it: I’ve been toying with the idea of reading this book for awhile.
How I would rate it: 3 out of 5 stars.
In a post-apocalyptic underwater dome, there lives a girl with a starfish growing from her head. Her name is Ohime. She is the starfish girl. Alone in this world, Ohime must fight for her life against lecherous crabmen, piranha people, and a yellow algae that is causing humans to mutate into fish. Until she meets Timbre, a woman with deadly sea anemone hair. Ohime thinks she is safe with her new protector and friend, but Timbre is on the run from a violent past.
Now they must escape Timbre’s former master, the evil Dr. Ichii, who is determined to conquer the underwater dome . . . and destroy the starfish girl and her friend in the process.
Review: In terms of concept, world, and main characters, Starfish Girl was really exciting and fascinating. I loved the idea of yellow algae causing people to turn into all sorts of aquatic human hybrids. I also really liked the work done in terms of the world and characters, particularly Timbre who was like the Bride from Kill Bill crossed with Alice from Resident Evil and given sea anemone abilities. Ohime had a lot of the charm given to most of Hayao Miyazaki female heroines and the sort of overly cheerful personality you can find in most shoujo manga titles. Timbre was an easier character to like, but both women brought very different personalities and point of views, which worked well together. Their quest was a fun one, and I really liked gaining a lot of insight into Timbre’s past while Ohime remained more of a blank slate.
That said, I didn’t always like the writing or the pacing of Starfish Girl. I loved that the book was striving for a quirky fairy tale innocence mixed with dark, gritty action and sexual malice, but that wasn’t always a very seamless blend. And unlike the other two Bizarro books I’ve read, I also felt like some of the scenes in Starfish Girl were just there to shock or stun me. I really wished they’d been left out. Frankly, I don’t know what the general consensus is and I don’t care because I personally have no interest in reading about women eating people with their sexual organs. I didn’t like it in American Gods by Neil Gaiman and I didn’t like it in Starfish Girl. In neither case did it prevent me from reading the rest of the book, but both times I was very, very disappointed.
In conclusion, an enjoyable novel give or take a few scenes. The good outweighed the bad, of course. I appreciated Villaverde’s originality and her range of female characters so I’ll be checking out Clockwork Girl in the near future.