My rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased ebook
Publication Date: June 2016
Publisher: Soul Fire Press
Point of View: 3rd Person
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure
I blazed through the second half of this book like there was no tomorrow!
WHAT I LOVED
Oh man. There is so much to love about this book. And I only just finished it, so my thoughts might be a bit rambling . . . Try to bear with me!
First off, this was absolutely a Girl Power book. While there is romance in it with a hunky hero, he never even comes CLOSE to stealing the spotlight from our heroine, Kai, or her band of strong girlfriends. Kai is absolutely the hero of her own adventure here, and her gal pals are heroes as well in their own rights. At first I thought I might be disappointed by the fact that the hero (whose name is, humorously, Hiro) wasn't in the first half hardly at all, but the more I read, the more I just loved the emphasis on female community and strength in supporting one another. A great message for today!
Quitsu--He is Kai's silver-fox familiar and he is PERFECTLY LOVELY. I want one just like him soooo badly! He was great for moments of levity, but the emotional bond between him and Kai was very real. Loved it.
The world-building was great. Sometimes I might have felt my eyes glaze over a wee bit from ALL the beautiful description and development, but that's not really a fault with the book, purely my own laziness. And ultimately, all that care that went into the world-building just made the characters and their adventures that much more real.
And here's something I never, never, never thought I'd say--I liked the Mean Girl story line. Seriously, when Chiya was introduced as a character, I kind of rolled my eyes and went, "Here we go again." This sort of book just cannot seem to help having a Mean Girl. And it even had the SAME scene I've already encountered in Shadow and Bone and First Year . . . the scene where the Mean Girl goads Our Heroine into a fight, and somehow, against the odds, Our Heroine vanquishes the Mean Girl and embarrasses her in front of everyone. Please.
But then . . . Claire Luana did something I didn't expect. She took the Mean Girl and gave her a real story-line. A gut-punch of a story line that really made me feel for the character. It was so cleverly done, that I can't help thinking the author purposefully set her up as an overdone stereotype simply because the contrast was so much greater as a result. So what I fully expected to be a Did Not Like element became one of my favorite parts.
The twists and turns of the plot were great! Exciting, unexpected, sometimes grim . . . and occasionally heartbreaking. I found myself blinking back tears a few times. A sure sign that the story has emotionally gripped me! I don't want to say too much for fear of giving away spoilers. But I would caution you to have some tissues handy!
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE SO MUCH
Honestly, there wasn't much I disliked about this book. Here and there the pacing dragged a bit, I'll grant you, but never so much that I lost interest in the characters or the unfolding drama. Every time I thought the story was falling into a cliched rut, the author managed a twist to pull it right out again.
The only thing I might complain about was the hero (Hiro!). He was hot, noble, and flat as a pancake. He might actually be a really interesting guy (there's a sequel coming! YAY!), but he just didn't get a whole lot of page time for me to know. Thus I found it hard to understand why Kai fell for him so hard and so fast. Just because he's muscled like a god? Hmmm. I don't know.
But the book just isn't about the romance, so it didn't really matter. It's a strong story about strong young women learning how to conquer impossible odds together.
To me, this book was what Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo wanted to be but wasn't (I reviewed that one last month. You can read my review HERE). It's also very similar to First Year by Rachel E. Carter (which I read earlier this month and reviewed HERE), but I think I liked this one a little bit better. While both are focused on magical training in a school, this book got into the epic-scale action, where as First Year merely hinted at epic action to come. (Both are great books though!)
Anyway, if you are a fan of either Shadow and Bone or First Year, I definitely recommend Moonburner to you. You might find yourself holding a new favorite in your hands!
This book, along with all the others I read in March, is a contender for my Book of the Month pick. At the end of the month, I'll be giving away a print copy of my favorite book (and possibly one other as well) to one lucky mailing list subscriber. So subscribe to my mailing list today for a chance to win! I'll be announcing my Book of the Month pick and the giveaway on March 31.