Saturday, March 11, 2017

Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya's home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she's never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

The blurb was a definite hook for me, especially with the Graceling being one of my all-time favorite young adult fantasy novels. But the language and terminology confused this 38-year-old writer/avid reader, so I wonder how much a young adult will comprehend while reading.

I've struggled over the course of two weeks to read this novel, reading about 10% in a sitting before switching to another book, then coming back for another tenth of the book, more than determined to finish it. At the start, I felt like I was forced to solve a complicated puzzle with all the terminology and how the reader is thrust into a world with no explanation, being left to figure it out on their own.

I'm not necessarily a simple reader, but this novel made me feel like one with how confused I was. I've read thousands of books in varying genres, especially this one, so I know what some of the terms used meant. I grasped the overall plot, but was still left to solve what was being said in the paragraphs.

In a nutshell, I felt as if I was reading a foreign language after being dropped into a foreign land, and through familiarity I had to learn how to speak the language (eventually I got it, but it harmed the entertainment factor). While beautiful, and lent an ethereal and realistic feel to the world created, it created a jarring flow as the reader tried to puzzle through understanding the words used to tell the story.

As the writer and creator, the author knows what she meant when writing, but that didn't necessarily translate to the reader understanding. Eventually, yes. But it shouldn't be so much work at the start. The beginning is when the reader must be hooked, and I fear the majority will toss in the towel long before they comprehend the beautiful world created. I personally experienced a disconnect between me and the characters due to the writing style, which I battled the entire duration of the long book.

AFTER I conquered the novel, there was a glossary of terms at the end of the book, which I wish I knew existed prior to starting. If you're reading my review prior to purchasing/reading the novel, click to the glossary first. It will make your reading enjoyment much more fulfilling. Though, at the same time, it feels a bit like you have to study and keep notes in order to read the book.

At the start, the reader is thrust into a harsh world, with Khya as our narrator. She's a strong, stubborn, responsible role model of a character, with utter devotion to her brother – Yorri. Yorri was one of my favorite characters. The strong connection the brother and sister shared was endearing.

I appreciated how the focus was on the plot, unlike how many young adult fantasy novels focus on the romance. There was a romantic thread, but it wasn't insta-anything. There was a slow-build vibe between Khya and Tessen, which is a trope that always keeps my attention. Khya is blind to the attraction between her and Tessen, more focused on her brother. They had known each other for most of their lives, so there wasn't a scene (like in most YA books) where the new hottie totally makes our heroine lose her focus. No matter how much Khya wanted to be left alone, Tessen maneuvered his way in by being helpful.

The universe created was diverse, with three genders and no sexual orientation qualms. I give mad props to the universe the author created, all the time spent researching and maintaining the world-building from start to finish, the ability to write a highly complex novel.

I wasn't the intended audience for this novel. I like to be entertained, to fall into the story and not want to crawl back out until well after the final page. With the way Island of Exiles was written, with the complexity, I couldn't fall into the story without struggling to understand the story. It was like working instead of relaxing. While I can appreciate the hard work and beauty the author injected into the story, it wasn't a pleasure to read.

I do recommend this title, but only if the reader downloads a sample to get a feel of the writing style and world-building. While I can appreciate the story, I won't be reading the sequel.

After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years studying psychology and creative writing, basically getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Now, she’s the author of several series for young adults. She’s also a reader, asexuality advocate, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse who loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works. Her debut novel, Sing Sweet Nightingale, released March 2014 and it was the first volume of The Dream War Saga. In May 2015, Erica and her co-author Lani Woodland launched the Laguna Tides series with Taken by Chance. Riptide’s new YA imprint Triton Books will release both books in the Assassins series, Discord and Nemesis, in 2016. The Ryogan Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy set to launch through Entangled Teen, will launch in 2017 with Island of Exiles.

Connect with Erica

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Island of Exiles (The Ryogan Chronicles #1) by Erica Cameron to read and review.

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