It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington – #TLCBookTours Review

Posted 29 June, 2018 by Heather in Blog, Blog Tour, Book Review, Heather, Heather Book Review / 2 Comments

I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington – #TLCBookTours ReviewIt Takes Death to Reach a Star by Gareth Worthington, Stu Jones
Series: It Takes Death to Reach a Star #1
Published by Vesuvian Books on May 22, 2016
Genres: Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 324
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours
Buy on Amazon
4.5 Stars



The epidemic struck at the end of the Third World War. Fighting over oil, power, and religion, governments ignored the rise of an anti-bacterial-resistant plague. In just five years, the Earth was
annihilated. Only one city survived—Etyom—a frozen hell-hole in northern Siberia, still engulfed in conflict.

The year is 2251.

Two groups emerged from the ashes of the old world. Within the walled city of Lower Etyom, dwell the Robusts—descendants of the poor who were immune to The New Black Death. Above them, in a metropolis of pristine platforms called Lillipads, live the Graciles—the progeny of the super-rich; bio-engineered to resist the plague.

Mila Solokoff is a Robust who trades information in a world where knowing too much can get you killed. Caught in a deal-gone-bad, she’s forced to take a high-risk job for a clandestine organization hell-bent on revolution.

Demitri Stasevich is a Gracile with a dark secret—a sickness that, if discovered, will surely get him Ax’d. His only relief is an illegal narcotic produced by the Robusts, and his only means of obtaining it is a journey to the arctic hell far below New Etyom.

Thrust together in the midst of a sinister plot that threatens all life above and below the cloud line, Mila and Demitri must master their demons and make a choice—one that will either salvage what’s left of the human race, or doom it to extinction…

“One-of-a-kind, richly imagined and vividly portrayed. And that action! [The] sense of pacing, especially in the action scenes, is exquisite. Readers are going to love this book.” ~ Jason Kirk, 47North


Wow. Just wow. I haven’t read anything sci-fi or dystopian in a while, so I had zero expectations going in to It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington. The blurb sounded interesting and what I found inside of the pages was phenomenally well-thought out, researched, and executed. Set two hundred years in the future after an antibiotic resistant plague has wiped out most of humanity after the end of World War III, only a small population of humans living in Siberia has survived in a city called Etyom.

Several groups of people divided by religion and walled parts of the city on the ground barely scrape by–the Robusts–surviving on their immunity to the New Black Death plague and what little ways they can eek out an existence. Above Lower Etyom, the Graciles live on floating platforms called lillipads, and they are the genetically manufactured descendants of the mega-rich and have an engineered resistance to the plague. While war, starvation, and greed still run rampant on the ground in Lower Etyom, the Graciles like to think that they are above such things–but dig in to the meat of It Takes Death to Reach a Star and you find out if the faults of humanity extend to those perfectly modified beings as well.

Mila Solokoff is a Robust who’s lost her parents to the plague and her brother to the mines, so she’s turned to being an illegal information courier to survive. She’s been trained in combat by a master, and she’s not afraid to fight if she needs to. Mila is fierce, loyal, protective, spiritual, and smart, but above all she’s reluctant to stir up trouble where she doesn’t belong. When she gets mixed up with a group of Robusts calling themselves the Resistance that are trying to go against the Graciles, she certainly has her reservations.

Demitri Stasevich has been genetically engineered to be attractive, smart, well-mannered, and obedient. Like all perfect Graciles, he should be mindlessly following his assigned roll, which happens to be an experimental physicist. But Demetri has always had another voice in his head which he thinks is mental illness, and this Vedmak wants to bring about the destruction of everyone around them. While Demetri uses illegal drugs that he can only get from Lower Etyom to quiet his inner demon, he’s sure that he will be killed if the Leader knows about his less-than-perfect condition–like all Graciles are Ax’d once their usefulness has run out. Gentle Demetri has always questioned the perfect front of the society he lives in, and he reluctantly embraces the opportunity to explore and fight with Robusts when the time comes.


I posted about this fantastic book on Instagram, and my caption really sums up my feelings about this book:

I’m blown away by how fantastic this week’s read is. The rich, gritty, dystopian world inhabited by such realistic and fierce characters has entertained me and left me wanting more. I highly recommend It Takes Death to Reach a Star to everyone. The accurate martial arts and science aspects really sealed the deal for me as both a martial artist and a PhD chemist!

The action in this book was front and center, and the fight scenes did get pretty technical–which I really loved since I’m student of combat hapkido and kickboxing myself. You don’t find many books that are technically accurate while being entertaining at the same time, and Mila sure can fight. The science was spot on as well, and I thoroughly enjoyed the parts where the modern day science was taken a few steps into the future and reimagined in a totally realistic way.

The one thing that nagged at me was Demetri’s drug of choice – krokodil – and his lack of horrible side effects from his long term use. But this could be explained away by his superior healing, but it’s still a drug that doesn’t have that long of a high, so he wouldn’t be able to keep Vedmak at bay for very long without using it constantly. And the chances of him using so much and remaining unscathed are pretty slim.

I give It Takes Death to Reach a Star a 4.5 out of 5. I truly love when two authors blend their writing together seamlessly. This was a serious page turner for me, and when I got to the end I really wanted another 200 or so pages to beef up this volume because I didn’t want it to end. I’m used to my sci-fi dystopians being much more epic in length, but It Takes Death to Reach a Star certainly doesn’t skimp on the action or meatier details. The pacing is pretty furious without being overwhelming, and the settings are vivid with realistic dialog that flows smoothly from unique character to character. It’s not hard to imagine our crazy current day world turning into the doomsday world of New Etyom and Lower Etyom, and I think that’s what makes It Takes Death to Reach a Star that much more of a great read. Pick up this book, and I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel–especially with how this one ended.



Amazon | Goodreads

About Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington BSc PhD is a trained marine biologist and also holds a doctorate in comparative endocrinology. Currently, Gareth works full time for the pharmaceutical industry helping to educate the world’s doctors on new cancer therapies. His debut novel, Children of the Fifth Sun, won in the Science Fiction category at the London Book Festival 2017. He has a number of passions, including: martial arts (he trained in Muay Thai at the prestigious EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore), studying ancient history, and most of all writing fiction. Born in England, Gareth resides in Switzerland.

Find out more about Gareth at his website, and connect with him on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Connect with Gareth Worthington

Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramGoodreads

About Stu Jones

Stu Jones has served full time as a law enforcement officer for twelve years. Over the course of his career he has worked as an investigator, an instructor teaching SWAT close quarters and defensive tactics, and as a member and team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. He is also trained and qualified as a law enforcement SWAT sniper, as well as in hostage rescue and high-risk entry tactics. He is an Eagle Scout, a lifelong martial artist, and an avid outdoorsman.

Find out more about Stu at his website, and connect with him on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Connect with Stu Jones

Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramGoodreads

Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for IT TAKES DEATH TO REACH A STAR:


Instagram Stops

Sunday, May 20th: Instagram: @theliterarybirds

Tuesday, May 22nd: Instagram:

Tuesday, May 22nd: Instagram: @novelreality

Wednesday, May 23rd: Instagram: @megabunnyreads

Thursday, May 24th: Instagram: @sweetbookobsession

Friday, May 25th: Instagram: @beccasbookishlife

Saturday, May 26th: Instagram: @girlsinbooks

Review Stops

Tuesday, May 22nd: Instagram: @onceupon_a_bookdream

Wednesday, May 23rd: Instagram: @jenabrownwrites

Thursday, May 31st: The Desert Bibliophile

Monday, June 4th: Wining Wife

Tuesday, June 5th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, June 5th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Wednesday, June 6th: Wall-to-Wall Books

Thursday, June 7th: Instagram: @ladyofthelibrary

Friday, June 8th: Literary Quicksand

Monday, June 11th: Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, June 12th: Instagram: @_literary_dreamer_

Wednesday, June 13th: The Paperback Pilgrim

Friday, June 15th: Openly Bookish

Monday, June 18th: Instagram: @bookishwinterwitch

Wednesday, June 20th: Instagram: @notthepathtonarnia

Friday, June 29th: Bewitched Bookworms


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I'm a PhD chemist who loves sarcasm, music, and books-paranormal, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and romance. Most of my free time is spent at the martial arts studio these days--whether practicing Combat Hapkido or reading books while watching my son's Taekwondo classes, or even working up a sweat with Kickboxing for fun. Goodreads

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