August 28th, 2013
Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for elemental themed magic books. I blame Avatar: The last airbender for this obsession, as the way it blended the mastering of elemental manipulation and making it a way of life has left a dent in my life, and I'm always looking for ways to repair XD
I saw this cover on amazon and when I read the synopsis I was curious. While it didn't focus on any other elements, focusing on wind was enough to spark a purchase. It followed the exploits of a teenage boy named Vane, whom finds out he comes from a race of "Sylphs" or wind walkers. There were some pros and cons to this book. I enjoyed it but there were several things that just did not captivate me as a reader.
The pacing started out slow. To be honest, it took about 110 pages for anything that caught my attention to happen. Forgive me if this is offensive, but there was often too many displays of info dumping. At times the story contradicted itself. To give an example, the female leading lady was also a sylph and his guardian. Sylph's did not eat, as it "grounded" them(groundlings was a term for humans) or weakened their affinity with the wind. He accidentally gave her a drop of water. It weakened her to a point where temporarily, she couldn't project herself through the wind in the ways she wanted.
Vane's been living as a normal human, and eating human food. Im not sure what caused the decision to make Vane reach his potential despite the things against him. But it definitely gave me the impression of "I man, you woman, I rule, you don't."The wind aspect dragged at times. Like i mentioned, Avatar really screwed with me. I expected to see things in the realm of airbending, but talking to the wind and learning its language was where they gained their power. It just didn't captivate me like I wanted. The world building also had faults, as at times, it was seen through Audra(the female lead) and her consistent info dumping. She revealed too much, and when dealing with duel perspectives, I find that rather irritating. I'd rather find out with the person whom is supposed to find themselves. I will give it this. Certain aspects went beyond predictability for me. I probably should have seen it coming, but there is often always a traitor among you, so I was being optimistic about the villain.
I didn't necessarily relate to Vane, but mainly because at times he was a bit sexist. I liked that his mother was a constant force in his life(as YA books seem to ignore parents completely, despite these teens not exactly being financially able) but he wanted to change many things about his love interest. That'll come later, but Audra was more like me. Sometimes I get so tired of reading women whom have no sense of logic, that i'll stop reading completely just to give myself a few weeks to calm down. Audra was smarter than most heroines, so while she isn't necessarily likable, I liked her. I felt as if the development and back story explained what I needed to know BUT again, it gave it too me all at once, so having to process so much at once irritated me. I think there's definitely conflict, but Im very tired of the insta-love theme. Man I wish the industry would retire this, because I cant imagine genuinely falling in love with someone in just a week. That part of it was definitely a bit too mainstream for my taste. The concept of the book is cool, but there are similar books featuring a "One whom has to save all" theme. I don't think it's going anywhere, and I love it, but it didn't reinvent the theme for me.
Grammar, it meets the industry standard. I don't have many quarrels about it, but again, there's a ton of info dumping, so some points don't balance out dialogue and beats.
Diversity? Here's where I shake my head. There wasn't much. I liked that Vane is adopted, and that represents a certain minority that does not get much shine. But they lived in California. I've recently been, and I know one area cant speak for an entire state, but to have one latino character seemed rather unrealistic. He was a side character, and that's alright, because POC deserve to be captivating sidekicks, villains, love interests in addition to being main characters(MC). But he was more like a dollar in your wallet, when you're making a purchase and forget there's tax. It's there but it's pretty useless. The ways the author used to describe him seemed a bit demeaning. He was the ONLY character not described as attractive in the book. Hmmm...
The women of this book saved most of the development in the characters, but this fell victim to making it seem as if a female hero isn't capable of the things a male hero can do. Vane was not nearly as seasoned, but he gets the most out of the dramatic action sequences. He literally felt pain when harming another sylph. So he's capable of taking out his enemy more than someone trained to do this line of "waste management?" Audra was strong, but at times he displayed alpha male behavior. Which is strange, because he was a complete "nice guy", not a jerk like most alpha males. He looked at Audra as fragile, but I saw the harsh experiences she had to encounter as ways of making her stronger. But this is my opinion. He also thought she wasn't being herself when she didn't reach his standard of how a girl should dress or wear her hair. She wore constrictive plaits, and preferred her hair out, long and flowy. Cant speak for most, but my boyfriend loves braids, despite it being a significant cultural difference for him. Just saying.
I think the cover fits, and the title is catchy. I was attracted to the title, and after finishing it, it seemed appropriate. The names weren't common, which I always like to see. I think the author paints clear pictures of the way the characters look, so I had no issue with that. I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to it's sequel, and will be on the lookout for Mrs.Messenger's books again. :)
Vane and Audra were hard to picture. Audra I kept thinking was dark haired when she wasn't. I think I enjoyed it, but it's not really worth a dreamcast.