Hey, all, it’s Alexa, briefly returning from my school-induced blogging break, lol. Anyways, school aside, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to take part in this blog tour for riveting, new, high fantasy, Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: February 14th, 2017
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.
This book… is just… incredible. It begins so simply, not quite a “Oh, look, another magic-ridden high fantasy” feel, because it does have a very epic, even almost chilling start, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be as mind-blowingly phenomenal as it actually is. That comes on slowly—yet the story was never boring. It begins with a simple but strong story stake, then builds and builds and builds on that, one shocker plot twist at a time, until the end result is something completely other than what the beginning suggested. Everything is different; nothing is at it seemed. And each step further into the complexity of this story, the tension draws tauter and tauter, pulling you deeper and deeper, until you’re riveted, glued to the page, body tense, stomach swirling, heart stopped… waiting to see what’ll happen next (I know because I spent a solid hour in that position as the climax hit). The intricacy to the layers in this story is absolutely stunning; I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a book quite like it. Something similar? Sure. In the same vein for one characteristic or another? Definitely. But something exactly like this?
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Plot: 5 stars out of 5.
Like the plot, I wasn’t super into the characters at first. While I didn’t dislike them, I knew I lacked some connection to them, yet I could objectively see what good characters they were. So I figured it was just one of those times, you know. Some characters you inexplicably love and some you inexplicably don’t.
But as the story went on and the plot peeled back more layers, revealing surprises and secrets in their world, those situations forced the characters—Khya especially—to peel back more layers about themselves. And as painful as that was for them, it was also amazing to read. I don’t want to give spoilers for what exactly they discovered, but these characters are… they’re complicated and desperate and difficult and flawed and angry and ambitious and raw and real. They are so real. And even when I didn’t completely agree with their choices, I got them, and there was something in me that more than felt for them but related to them. That deeply understood that part of the human experience. Something in me that reached out and said, “Yeah. That’s true. That’s honest. That’s real.” Journeying with these characters was an immersive experience like no other. And sidenote: I do love them now, truly and deeply—yet without most of the fangirl-y feels I think I was looking for. The story just doesn’t lend itself to that, but that’s just another thing I love about it. I do enjoy fangirling (as I’m sure anyone who follows my reviews has noticed), but I also enjoy pragmatism and logic, both of which are major components of the plot and the characters themselves. They don’t lack feeling, but the feeling is always tempered with practicality, making it far more subtle, but no less powerful.
Not by a long shot.
‘Nother quick sidenote before we move on, this one about the romance: Watching Khya slowly fall for her boy was incredible. Like, it’s not a surprise anymore who YA characters are going to end up with. I mean, many of the falls are still cute, but they’re also… well, predictable. You read a romance, you know how it’s gonna go for pretty much every step of the way, but you hang out anyway because the charries are cute and it’s kinda your fix. But this one… it was truly different. Like, I knew it had to happen—it had to be them two—but I couldn’t have predicted how and getting to watch it unfold felt like a privilege to witness.
Characters: 5 stars out of 5
This section is the one thing that did grab me from the first page, lol. Because, from the very beginning, the setting was very full and very thorough. It feels like a whole other world, literally, it’s nothing like mine. Now admittedly, there were times when that complete otherness caused me some confusion, but mostly, I enjoyed how the writing would immediately set the scene, while slowly dropping info, breadcrumb by breadcrumb, about the plot and the storyworld. Simultaneously, it sounded like someone who lived in that world, so there was no infodump and not even the smallest of slip-ups in the worldbuilding, not even one mention of something from our world that they couldn’t know about. Everything is filtered through the eyes of Khya, her worldview, her world, what she sees, understands, and knows to be true. And like a real world, we’ve only scratched the surface and I’m excited to see how the future parts of it unfold.
Speaking of her worldview, Khya’s voice though. It’s not the flowing, poetic, sunset-scene-painting that I often like in high fantasies and dystopians, and it’s not the sassy, sarcastic-punch teenager from many contemporaries—both of which can be awesome when called for. But her voice—like herself—was straightforward and clear, yet strangely tasteful, almost elegant in its own right. The narration is utterly her, and that also jumps out from page one: the kind of person she is, her philosophies, perceptions, problems, pains, self-told-lies, everything, is shown as much through the narrative and the way she chooses to see the world as it’s shown through her interaction with other characters. As much as I’m told about her, I’m shown ten times more through that VIP pass into her mind and the opportunity to truly see things the way that she does.
Writing Style/Setting: 5 stars out of 5.
And so we come in at a solid, resounding 5 stars out of 5. This… book… is… phenomenal. I am so glad I got to be a part of this blog tour and got the chance to read it early, and I highly encourage you to do the same. Well, read it, I mean. 😉 You can pre-order up your own copy on Amazon (UK and Canada links), Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo or try to win it by checking out the giveaway below. 🙂
So what was the last fantasy you read? Tell me about a romance that really taught you something or that you just felt privileged to watch unfold. Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour, and I will see you in the comment section!
About the Author:
After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Erica graduated with a double major in psychology and creative writing from Florida State University and began pursuing a career as an author.
Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, asexual, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She 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.
Content: Several mentions of sexual encounters, nothing explicit.