Island Of Exiles

HI WORLD HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Did you guys appreciate my excitement and all caps? You really should have. Excitement is a beautiful thing.

So it’s currently 10:57 as I type this I am on spring break and life is good but here’s the thing: I DON’T CARE BECAUSE I FINISHED ISLAND OF EXILES AND IT WAS BLOODY BRILLIANT! (I hope that’s a thing people say)(I’m sorry I’m such a dork).

I’m going to get right into this because I have so much to say about this book. It was truly fantastic.

SO. Island Of Exiles.

First off, let me just say that Erica Cameron is one talented writer. I had the opportunity to read the first few chapters on Wattpad before I could get my hands on the book itself. This was good, as it kept me happy until I was actually able to get to a bookstore (thanks mom).

WOW. Writing = phenomenal. Plot = fantastic. Premise = brand new.

Basically, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book. Now that I have, and have attacked it with the appropriate amount of gusto (aka I read it in one sitting last weekend and only came up for air to hang with my dad for an hour because it was his birthday) I am SO ready to give you my review.

Obviously I hated it. Oh, wait, I spelled “loved” wrong. (I know, my jokes are bad. You’re still here though aren’t you?)

Getting down to the review portion of this post now. For real this time.

In my Windwitch review I mentioned how I loved that romantic love was not the focus. Yeah, Island is much the same way. Romance has a presence, but it is small and not nearly as important as the other relationships. Family carries a lot of weight for Khya and I loved seeing that in a genre that tends to dismiss familial reltionships at times. Khya’s reltionship with her brother Yorri was at the core of the novel and it shaped the story around it beautifullly.

While love might not be the most important thing, I saw a little bit of it here and there. Tessen, who is my new favorite character in the entire world, is the male love interest for Khya, but that doesn’t mean he’s got her running after him. Truly the opposite. The dynamic between these two is intense and left me wanting more more MORE of them on the page. But, even then, it is not romance that holds them together. It’s a complicated, electric dynamic that filled in the peripheral and central stories.

The landscape was also a character in itself. It had a very Australia feel, from what I know of the continent. I couldn’t picture this story set anywhere else, otherwise it would have been a very different plot altogether.

One more thing that fits into the world in a different, but just as important, way: LGBTQIA+ representation is spilling off the page. In Island, bisexuality is the norm and asexuality is accepted without blinking an eye. There are three genders, male, female and ebet. I don’t want to mess up an explanation about ebets so I’ll leave the explaining to Erica Cameron. But, simply put, ebets are intersex.

See what I mean about representation? And, trust me, it is necessary to the overall story. Cameron weaved this into her world-building seamlessly and made it essential to her story.

The way this book was written hooked me in. I love when language is put to use in a detailed and deliberate way. Overall this read quickly and I had trouble putting it down to do my actual, class-required reading.(plot twist: I didn’t. I finished the book first, then did my work. Don’t tell my profs guys). 110% recommend.

Sorry for getting this review up so late. It seems like a theme with my posts lately, sadly. I’m working on it.

Okay, I’m off to enjoy my spring break with-surprise-a book! Bye!!

Kailey

Empire of Storms

Hey all! So I know it’s been a while but school and life have been mega crazy lately.

So recently I finished the new Sarah J Maas novel Empire of Storms and I’m. In. Love. 

A bit of background on this for me: I’ve been reading Sarah’s books for about a year now but I read everything that she had published in a little over a month. Her writing is fabulous and her world building makes me swoon. So do her characters.

EOS was no different. This isn’t a review per say but I do want to talk a little bit about it (no spoilers don’t worry!). 

First of all I want to talk about the perfection of details that SJM puts in her books. She brought back things that I hadn’t thought about in a very long time. Her reintroduction of these small (but significant) bits of information was done near flawlessly. Something minor we dismissed in say Queen of Shadows turned out to be instrumental to EOS. I’d love to go into a gushing tangent about her skill in this regard (reminded me a lot of Cassandra Clare’s talent with it to tell you the truth) but if I did that it would be a very, very long post and I don’t think I want to do that to anyone who might be awesome enough to read this. So I’ll leave it at that and move on.

Next I want to discuss the storyline. Holy plot twists Batman. Did I see that coming? Nope, never, not at all. But that’s the mark of a talented writer. The mark of an even better one is when they pull it off seamlessly. Without spoilers it’s hard to talk about the plot in more than vague terms but I’ll give it a shot. 

Essentially the story picked up a short time after Queen of Shadows left off. Not much time had passed but enough that we weren’t in the exact same moment. Days to weeks at most between times. I thought this was well done because books that pick up at the exact moment the previous one ended for me always feel rushed. Giving the characters time to react and digest the previous ending always makes for a more interesting beginning. But that’s just my opinion.

We do pick up the story in Terrasen but one thing I will tell you all is we don’t get to see much of this beloved country. The story follows Aelin and her court closest obviously but we see quite a bit on Manon Elide as well. Their stories are just as essential as our court’s even if they are all in different places (or are they . . .).

So I guess that’s a good segue into characters! We saw a lot of semi-familiar faces throughout the book and they all served their purpose to further the story. I don’t think there was a single person in this story who I felt could’ve been left out. Each person’s story was intertwined well with the overall plot. We got a little bit of Lysandra’s POV but that’s one thing I wish we could’ve seen more of. We got some great Aedion moments and I won’t spoil anything but Aedion is now a character with a very special place in my heart.

So now that I’ve given a bunch of vague teasers and gushed my way through the basics, let’s get down to the fun parts.

Things I loved about EOS:

  • The language! I am a super picky reader. Not to say I don’t have about 7 billion books I love but there’s a difference between loving a book for the plot and loving a book because it grips your soul. For me all soul-gripping books have fabulous language. And EOS did not disappoint in that regard. SJM is one author who knows how to wield words like the weapons they are. I could feel how each and every word was chosen carefully in order to reach the novel’s full potential. Now there were a few points where I thought the phrasing could have been done better but they were few and far between and overall didn’t detract from the beauty of the story in any way. 10/10 on the language she used.
  • The settings! Okay so I told you before we don’t get to see a lot of Terrasen BUT we do get a few fabulous new places to see. I loved the introduction of new settings into this story. She built these places strongly and vividly. One thing I was disappointed on here though was that at one point we see ruins, and these ruins are supposed to be this creepy, chilling place. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that when I read about them. I felt a little too much distance. But I know other people HAVE felt that creeped out feeling when they were reading that part, so I’m going to chalk this one up to personal issues and leave it be. Plus she makes up for that (in my opinion at least) when she writes about other places Aelin and her court visit. It felt like I was there with them nearly every step of the way. That was how good the settings were done. I give it a 9/10 on this aspect of the novel.
  • The plot twists! I said it earlier and I’ll say it again–HOLY PLOT TWISTS BATMAN! Now these weren’t as shocking as say a “you’re brother and sister” kind of thing (any Cassie Clare fans out there? Any at all? Please?) but they were substantial enough that they warrant talking about. For example, Aelin will always be Aelin. We can see how she’s growing and learning but she will always have something up her sleeve that we did not see coming. That’s part of the fun I think. Knowing that she’s got to have some trick up her sleeve and wondering what it is or when she’s going to reveal it. But she’s not the only one. Lets just say we didn’t see the last of Maeve in Wendlyn. Which is really just too bad. We get more than a few confirmations of things we’ve all been waiting for as well. Plus a few bombs dropped we probably would have rather not found out. So many twists and turns to this novel. Gods and monsters and plots, oh my! 10/10 on this (but really more like 50000/10 because wow). 

Things I didn’t like as much:

  • The sex scenes. Yes, there are sex scenes in EOS. I was little surprised when I came across the first one (I hadn’t read any spoilers or hints at all about this book before diving in). I don’t think they detract from the book in any way. In fact they show significant moments and give us a lot of insight to what’s really happening in the characters’ heads. They were done very well and not at all overly long or cringe worthy. This is just a personal preference I have that I don’t much like sex scenes. That, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t expecting them, made me not as much a fan of seeing them there. But looking at it from SJM’s point of view I can understand why she added them in there. 
  • The way some characters were introduced. So I haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade yet. I discovered that I probably should have while reading EOS. A lot of characters who come into play throughout the story aren’t fully introduced because they had their own short stories with Aelin in The Assassin’s Blade. Well, if you haven’t read it yet (or you’re like me and didn’t know to read it beforehand) that can be a little annoying. I was able to fill in the gaps by clues and context, but I would have preferred to know full back stories. Moral here: read The Assassin’s Blade before EOS if you can.
  • The distribution of POVs. GIVE ME MORE LYSANDRA! I WANT MORE LYSANDRA! It was all fairly even distribution between characters except for her. So that was sort of disappointing. Personally I’d rather have had less Lorcan and more Lysandra. And more Aedion too if possible.

I know a lot of people took issue with the fact that Chaol wasn’t in this book but I think it makes perfect sense not to include him. Let him heal in the south and bring him back in the final novel. Overall not many things in this book that were problems. The issues I did have aren’t all big things and they didn’t take away at all from how much I loved this book. I would have devoured it in a day if I could have but I’ve been so busy with school and other things that I’ve barely had time to read. 

I highly recommend this or any Sarah J Maas book to anyone and everyone. She’s a fantastic writer and one of my favorites. It’s no secret that I want to be her when I grow up (no I’m not a grown up I’m just a college student shhh that doesn’t make me a grown up). One thing I will warn you about: you will cry. There is no way around it. Accept your fate. Tears will be shed because holy hell this book is emotionally stacked. That’s all the warnings I’m going to give though.

So I hope this made sense and wasn’t too bad of a review/reaction. Now I’m going to go crank out another 2k words on my WIP (almost halfway done!) so I’ll talk to you soon! 

GO READ EMPIRE OF STORMS!

Kailey