Stray (Touchstone: Part 1) by Andrea Höst is the first of a three-part Sci- Fi/YA series. It is written in the form of a journal, and we follow the adventure of Cassandra, Cass to her friends, by never Cassie. Cass is a normal teenager in from Sydney, walking home from her HSC exams only to be suddenly, and inexplicably transported to a new world, Muina. She is in a strange world with only the contents of her school bag to keep her alive. She manages to scratch together a meagre existence finding plants that she can eat, and even find ‘sheep’ she can shear with the help of her trusty scissors to make ‘blankets’. But, then she is ‘rescued’ by people from a strange and technologically advanced planet, Tare. The Tarens her back with them, and she is designated as a ‘Stray’. Now, instead of basic ‘survival’ Cass must learn a whole new language and way of life, not knowing if she will ever make it home. Added to this is the fact that the Tarens soon discover that she is useful to them, so there is a question as to how much they are interested in helping her get home.
This book is excellent. One of the best Sci-Fi novels I’ve read in ages. Cassandra has a very dry sense of humour, that doesn’t leave her throughout her ordeal, but at the same time she experiences frustration, anger, fear and grief caused by her situation. The world that Höst has created is vivid and detailed. The fantastic creatures and the other worlds of ‘near-space’ are exciting and varied.
I have already started reading the second book in the series, and I’m looking forward to the third coming out soon. For lovers of good quality Sci-Fi, or if you just like a good story this is for you.