Description: Seventeen year old Ringzette Almer is a Torosapien that lives in a world that is just as gripping as it is beautiful. The world, Floresha, has taken the place of Earth which was destroyed centuries ago by an unknown power. There are four main tribes that live as a part of its inhabitants: The Chayas, the Marconnis, the Wielders and the Juugulars.
Ringzette, a Chaya, is plunged deeper into her world when she comes across a mysterious man who implants a gem on her stomach. As if things couldn’t get any stranger, she is told that her claimed to be dead brother may not be dead after all and a father she never knew has left her with an unfeasible mission that he himself was unable to complete. Now with her whole world on her shoulders, Ringzette must break the forbidden rule of travelling to the other tribes and find the six guardians that are born to protect this planet. She not only has to race against time, but also the enemies destined to destroy the very same people she must find and protect. To make matters worse, she will have to accomplish all this while managing to survive the treacherous lands of the tribes she's only heard of from her textbooks. As a lazy teenager born from a tribe of peacekeepers, what are her chances of making it through this alive?
Maggie's Review: [2 out of 5 Stars]
Before I get too deep into my comments about this book, I want to start off with some general observations about Young Adult Fiction in order to set the baseline for this review. YA books can fall under two categories for me:
1. Awesome literature written for tweens and up that involve adolescents going on adventures and doing cool things that also appeal to older adults because of their great storylines, interesting characters, and challenging writing that can keep a person of any age's attention. A great example would be The Harry Potter Series.
2. Literature written for young adults that is paced specifically for young readers in mind with a simpler form of vocabulary and mild adventures. An example of this would be A Wrinkle In Time.
This book falls into the second category - slower paced, less challenging vocabulary, and less complex characters. As I am a 30-something-year-old, I struggled a lot with continuing to read the story, but I had to keep in mind that I'm not the target audience. Case in point: I read A Wrinkle In Time last year for the first time (a book I had somehow missed in my childhood), and found it slow and quite boring. But again, I wasn't the target audience, and saying I didn't enjoy a treasured book of kids approaching double digits or heading into their tweens is more of an issue of me missing out on the experience when I was kid, rather than the author neglecting its readers. I would like to make one distinction: though the writing of this book is geared towards young readers, it still has an older audience in mind with its use of strong language (something I’m not opposed to, but need mention for younger readers considering this book), and also instances of sexual predators that may not be suitable for young readers.
I will pull out the classic school-aged phrase to say, This Book Had a Lot of Potential. The world of Floresha sounded very interesting - the different ethnicities, the glowing plants and forestry, and the wildly colored people - but it could have gone much, much deeper in its development. The author attempted to form a cultural base of this new planet, Floresha, and yet they ended up with a poorly translated version of Earth instead of a vibrant new world that had long ago replaced Earth as we know it. Taking common nouns from Earthen days and translating them into new spellings does not put much trust into the reader's creative mind. To fully succeed in creating new people, landscapes, and cultural diversity in one's writing, you must abandon the thought that your readers are Earthlings, merely handing them pieces of your world one bite at a time. Instead, take ownership of your creative new planet and act like the reader is right there with you. You can describe the new world in new terms and new visuals. Saying a "bus" is now a "bushier" simply adds a new name to something the reader already knows exists, and also makes the reader hesitate in their reading of the book; they must pause and think, What is a 'bushier'? A brush? Or bushes? Oh wait, it's a bus! And then they have lost the flow of the story all to try to remember what is meant when a character needs to find a bushier. Also, visuals are so important when creating new worlds. If you want large vehicles that ride around the city carrying passengers, feel free to call it a “bushier”, but have a visual to back-up what this new term is, instead of relying on the reader’s current knowledge.
I enjoyed the ragtag pack of travelers that band together in hopes of saving Floresha, and the author does challenge the reader to consider how leaning entirely on stereotypes and cultural assumptions won’t get you far in life. This concept, and embracing one’s individuality while finding the good in others, is something we all could hear more often.
I shall return to my original point as I close out this review: I am not the intended audience. Had I been a thirteen year old reading adventures about a young girl traveling unknown territories with her best friend and sidekick animal, I would probably find it entertaining and love every page. But for this 30-something-year-old who loves challenging vocabulary and immersing herself in fully developed worlds and great adventure, this book did not meet the mark for me.
Please note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. A big thanks to the author for sharing their work!