(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)
A quick and entertaining read, that could appeal to a lot of middle-graders, especially the first-borns who (like me *wink* *wink*) found themselves "trapped" at 11-12 with a younger sibling they had to be responsible for, and burdened with the feeling that life was so unfair. Seriously, even 20-odd years later, I could still relate, remembering how that was the way I felt towards my own sister at the time. A book that can appeal to older readers through the chasm of time, well, isn't that something?
The story was sometimes pretty bizarre, and I suppose I would've liked some parts to be better explained (let's just say Tör isn't the most straightforward character when it comes to answering questions). It may or may not be a problem, in that having such answers doesn't really matter in the end, but not having them made things a little confusing, so it's a tie here. For instance, I would've liked to see more of the watches, how exactly they worked, etc: not essential to the story and the message it conveys... but still something that would titillate my curiosity. The shooting stars part felt confusing somewhat confusing, and a couple of points (such as, people able to see the characters when they weren't supposed to) were maybe too easily chalked out to "things aren't working as intended", without anything to support the why and how behind it.
The characterss reactions weren't always the most clever, to be honest. However, being 12 and stranded and without any advice to go by, I guess you can't help but making mistakes. I wouldn't have forgiven this is an older character; I could forgive Marten, though, all the more because he also realised soon enough how exactly he felt about his brother, whose "fault" things were, and because he grew up in the process, becoming more understanding of the people around him.
This book is also interesting for its bits of astronomy: not too many, nothing impossible to understand for a younger reader, and at the same time this is something that could make one look further (which is also why the book provides links at the end, towards various websites about the Hubble telescope and other astronomy-related themes).
In short: a pretty sweet novel, with a few holes, but nonetheless enjoyable for younger readers.