The Floating Islands
I got this book at the bookstore years ago in part because I liked the cover and the title. They drew me in and the description sounded like something I would want to read. I started reading it in April, during the A to Z challenge, but learned that wasn’t a good move. I had planned to review it for day N until I figured out this isn’t a book to read in a hurry. It’s not a fast book, takes time to get through and understand what is going on, but that’s okay.
About the Book: When Trei loses his family in a tragic disaster, he must search out distant relatives in a new land. The Floating Islands are unlike anything Trei has ever seen: stunning, majestic, and graced with kajurai, men who soar the skies with wings.
Trei is instantly sky-mad, and desperate to be a kajurai himself. The only one who fully understands his passion is Araene, his newfound cousin. Prickly, sarcastic, and gifted, Araene has a secret of her own . . . a dream a girl cannot attain.
Trei and Araene quickly become conspirators as they pursue their individual paths. But neither suspects that their lives will be deeply entwined, and that the fate of the Floating Islands will lie in their hands. . .
The book was a bit slow. Granted, lots of things happen over the course of the few hundred pages, but took a while to read. There were parts where you trudge along wondering what it all had to do with the conflict of the story, then Bam! Complications would happen. In fact, the slow then Bam! is a common thing that happened throughout the book.
At times, we would be meandering along watching Trei learning about flying or maybe Araene dressing up like a boy trying to sneak to a lecture or something then…
Death and destruction. Some meandering again then…
Threat of war.
Stuff like that made it feel both slow and intense at the same time. That and the world, oh the world. If anything, I can say I appreciated this book for the obvious world-building achieved. I don’t do a lot of work on my worlds as a writer, it’s something I want to work on, and this book did have quite the world. There is obvious history, along with other factors such as politics that becomes important. Then there is also magic and dragons, which all made for an interesting world for a story.
This book did help me understand a different bit of writing advice. Ever wonder why you should use diverse names that don’t sound similar when writing a book? I mean, twins with similar names are common, even whole big families like to use the same letters and such for names, so if we do that it will be more realistic. Right? Here is the problem. It’s hard to keep track of the characters. This book showed that because most of the character’s names end in -ei or something with a similar sound. Even the main girl’s shortened name when she’s dressing like a boy had that same sound, -ae. I managed to keep track of the point of view characters and remember one other name. The rest, I don’t know what their names were, just new in the moment of reading that they had different roles. I will not remember their names because they all just run together due to the similarities. So, lesson learned.
I did like the characters. I always have enjoyed books where the girl fights to do something that isn't allowed cause she's a girl, ever since reading Tamora Pierce books as a pre-teen. And the boy was easy enough to read as well, Trei. He had plenty of struggles during the story as he didn't get things handed to him and he went through a number of tragedies. And the friends helped in different places. While I liked some of the ideas and decisions made sense in the moment, I did find the romance bit at the end to be a bit last minute. But that's all I'll say since it's near the end and I don't want to spoil anything. ;-)
Overall, it's a good but slow read. I recommend it for those interested in fantasy books that incorporate magic, strong world building, history and politics that can get past similar names used. Or if you're curious why you shouldn't give all your characters similar sounding names, check it out.