• Light from Uncommon Stars

  • By: Ryka Aoki
  • Narrated by: Cindy Kay
  • Length: 13 hrs and 13 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (613 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in Ryka Aoki's Light from Uncommon Stars, a defiantly joyful adventure set in California's San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts.

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: To escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka's ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She's found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn't have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan's kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul's worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.

As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.

A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Books.

©2021 Ryka Aoki (P)2021 Macmillan Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

Critic Reviews

2022, L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist

2021, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

2022, ALA Alex Awards Winner (Adult for Young Adults)

2021, NYPL Best Books of the Year

What listeners say about Light from Uncommon Stars

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Awesome with a few hitches.

Fantastic book and surprisingly the scifi parts were the weakest. Not that they were bad, just cheesy. I admit I wouldn't have started it without them, but I found myself drawn to the personal interactions and drama which normally isn't my jam.

On a personal note: I have a cousin who's trans, and I'm not going to pretend that now that I've read one book with a trans character I'm suddenly the expert of the lgbtq+ community, but I do feel as though I've glimpsed into the world a bit more than I have before and I hope this book will help me connect with my cousin a bit more.

21 people found this helpful

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Stays with you even after the end

Speechless is how this book left me. I’ve listened a lot of sci fi and fantasy books and there are many talented authors in this day and age. This book is not easily categorized nor described even though the tag line says this book is Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet which is an over simplification. Most reviews will talk about things like world building, plot, character etc. and yes there are all those elements in this book and you can read other reviews for that. Instead, I want to tell you how this book made me feel. It was like eating a 10 course Chinese banquet and I savored every chapter as it was brought out and when it was all over I felt full, sated, and complete in my heart. I expect this book will garner more than one award nomination because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever listened to before.

10 people found this helpful

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hard to listen to but worth it.

i don't know of any other piece of fiction that has melded so many genres so smoothly before. Lived Trans experience, Transphobia, money and power differentials, the internet, violin music, doughnuts, space aliens, demons, and the oldest profession, not to forget the whole selling your soul to the devil.

this is a unique work, and fantastic.

6 people found this helpful

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Just Wonderful

I hope the descriptions of the violin and its history, music pieces and theirs, playing and how bodies are held, were accurate as they were ensorselling.

3 people found this helpful

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Wow!

I wished I would of started it in the morning instead of before bed. loved the voice as much as the story. nikki

3 people found this helpful

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wonderful

loved it heart warming story inclusive moving example of outstanding story telling. can't wait for more from this writer.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Calm Beauty in Unusual Places

The competing situations, metaphors, descriptions, and comparisons are superb. It's so nice to get a break from the rush of life and fiction to be taken on a beautiful journey at a slower pace with a wonderful combination of music and food. Read with a snack. You'll get hungry.

2 people found this helpful

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I cried more than once

a truly delightful story of music, demons, and space aliens, but one that doesn't shy away from heart wrenching realities. an easy listen, and truly enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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FINALLY! A 5 Star book for this summer and fall.

What a wonderfully unique, insightful, and gently strong story about people, music, good, evil, history, love, and being good humans for one another.

It’s creative, zany, soulful and allegorical all in a masterful blend that leaves you laughing, weeping, and triumphing in turns at a wonderfully balanced tempo.

Thank you Ryka for creating this authentic experience. And may we all take warm and loving lessons home to our lives from this literary concerto.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly bad trans characterization.

I’m transgender myself and while this might look like good representation… it kind of isn’t. The level Katrina is so obsessed with being looked at and studied and demure about being a transgender woman and that is her entire personality for large parts of the book and is even a sex worker… is pretty cringe and a lot and I really do have to wonder if this is some sort of white knight attempt by a cis person or just bad writing about a sub culture of people they don’t understand or if the author is trans some
flimsy wish fulfillment? Can’t really say.

Other than that I found the other characters a little one note also but not in a way that is just hard to stay with. Descent story. Some parts are kind of imaginative. Narrator is pretty good. Solid 3 star SFF book

1 person found this helpful

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  • Gemesia
  • 04-09-22

An Interstellar Love Story with Donuts & Demons

Very absorbing, unusual premise, compelling characters, beautifully read. I enjoyed it from start to finish.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-27-21

a story of our times

This was told for those who imagine what could be, what might be, and what is.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gdvdjwvjd sjs a
  • 09-07-22

Different and wonderful

This book has everything. A many-layered plot, complex characters, harsh truths, moments of hilarity, moments of transcendence, and a happy ending. The narration was clear and effective also. I loved it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sammi snape
  • 08-19-22

Moving, inspiring and fuffilling

this story is 3 different things that shouldn't go to gether but when mixid in just the right way an amazing doughnut comes out.... I need to find an Alaska doughnut now!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-10-22

enjoyed it

I cant work out why they included the space alien story arc, it somehow detracted from the novel. apart from that, it's great.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jamie Cristofani
  • 07-17-22

Alien donut shops and demonic contracts

I loved this book for it's ability to be a crossover event for some very well thought out stories and characters. It is also very good and providing insight to character perspectives that, although potentially triggering, are very valuable and realistic (given the context of aliens and demons).

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • CCF
  • 05-28-22

a true work of love and art

if you're a queer music lover this will speak to you. if you're Asian then even more so! I've completely fallen in love with this amazing story.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David Connor
  • 12-13-21

Donuts, and Daemons, and Runaways, oh my!

Good solid writing that that doesn't quite live up to its excellent premise, but still tells a wholesome story of love, loss, demonic performance.

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  • Vicki
  • 01-17-22

difficult

this book deal very heavily with trans trauma, one character is misgendered, and verbally or physically abused but almost everyone she meets making her parts of the story hard to get through. If this is something that is triggering or even just upsetting to you I'd say go read/ listen to something else.
Other than that, the story was fine. Narrator did a great job.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • RFC
  • 05-01-22

story is ideologically correct but poorly written

the author is tediously trying to incorporate current topics at the expense of having a well written story and characters with depth.

The main character Catrina constantly finds herself in a victim role. but fair enough, a lot of terrible things happened to her.
Confusingly, to me at least, being misgendered is more problematic for her than the fact that she had to (?) resort to (child) prostitution. she didn't even entertain the thought to earn money any other way (maybe busking?). just very briefly it is mentioned that this is the fastest way to earn a reasonable amount of money. her past is quite colorless and cartoonish: some mean kids at school, her parents are exclusively evil (her father) or just barely mentioned (her mother).

another recurring character also is cast as an unlikely victim. a female luthier (violin builder) who was told by her father and grandfather that this was not a girls job.
despite all these older male relatives being dead she still does not entertain the thought that SHE herself could possibly do this job and take over the family business. this is ludicrous in a story set in the 21st century in California - regardless how conservative your family is.

then there is an alien family that is so much like a human family that it is unintentionally funny and terribly contrived. despite having just arrived and not having grown up with any of Earth's conflicts and racial predjudices they are outraged when someone is called "gook" (who even uses that type of insult these days?). they are not even Asian! they are wearing human costumes! also someone gets called "dyke". but so what?! is homophobia even a concept for their species? The completely over-the-top reaction is that one of the aliens kills two people to... preserve honour?

but then, the book is very ruthless with any non-PC characters: someone else who insulted a violin and did a misgender gets struck with a supernatural heart attack.
while someone who literally dedicated their life to sell people out for their own benefit (but not for racist motives, phew!) gets a chance to redeem themselves.

The plot twist in the end is not terribly smart and a bit mediocre.

.