Hey, all, it’s Alexa, and I am super excited to be a part of this blog tour for brand new YA fantasy Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron. Sea of Strangers is actually the sequel to Island of Exiles, which I reviewed (and loved!) earlier this year, so if you’re a little lost as to what we’re talking about, you can check out more on Island of Exiles here.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Sea of Strangers (The Ryogan Chronicles #2) by Erica Cameron
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Know your enemy if you want to survive…
The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.
Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.
Honestly, the way this book is written, it’s hard to know what to say about the plot. Just like the last, it is epic and intense, plus there are higher stakes and bigger emotions, a ton of twists, surprises, and just wild things that happen, but so much of it is unknown until it happens, because it’s unknown to the main characters. You only know what they know, and frankly, they don’t know very much. They’re desperately trying to fight a war in which they are outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, and outplanned, and when the book starts, they barely know the first thing about what they need to do to fight. A lot of the book feels very meandering, because the characters are trying to move forward, but half the time they don’t even know what forward is, and the other half there are so many obstacles, it’s almost impossible to go anywhere. Much of it ends up being waiting and discovery and failure and “let’s try this and hope it works,” and then it doesn’t, so they gotta try something else. There are a lot of ups and downs, and they’re always fighting, either a physical enemy, the elements, the facts, or themselves. The odds are against them in a crazy powerful way, but one thing I love about these characters is that they will not stay down. They have done the impossible time and time again, and though this book ends on a cliffhanger and we don’t get to see how it all goes down, I’m confident they will find a way to win. And it’ll be darn epic, a face-off like nothing I’ve read before.
I just gotta wait forever until it to come out.
Plot: 4 ½ stars out of 5
Watching Khya’s journey has been really amazing, because, while she hasn’t completely overcome her issues, I could see her actively taking steps and striving to get past them. She still fights to achieve the impossible level she thinks she should be capable of and she still gets upset when she can’t magically save everyone at once; but she’s also trying to trust in her squad, she’s leaning on them a little more, and learning to let go and be held and ask for help when she needs it, figuring out how to roll with her failures instead of wallowing in them, and how to trust in herself as well. I love her relationship with Tessen, the strong and supportive foundation they’re building on, and how the fact of his constancy, loyalty, and love has played into her character growth. Plus, there’s their banter, though. It’s amazing.
As for the other characters, one thing that’s really nice is that I’ve gotten to know some of the squad better. In the first book, I liked those I knew, but only Tessen, Tyrroh, Etaro, and Rai really stood out to me from Khya’s squad; there were other characters (like Sanii and Yorri) that I noticed outside of it, but within the squad, most of the others were just floating names with powers. Throughout this book though, we spend more time with each of them, and I was able to get to know them individually and start putting faces and feelings to the names and powers. While it’s impossible to know any of them as well as the reader knows Khya, there is a sense to all of them like they’re just very real. They’re full characters with their own complete lives that just so happened to get mixed up with Khya’s; but instead of untangling themselves as soon as the going got deadly, they chose to stick by her in spite of the hardships, because that’s the sort of people all of them are. And for that, if nothing else, I gotta heart them.
Characters: 4 ½ stars out of 5
Again, this story is told completely through Khya’s eyes. Every second, every sight, every sound, every instance, it is completely filtered through Khya’s perception; we see the world utterly and only from her mind. The only issue with this is that sometimes things did get confusing for me. The author doesn’t explain anything beyond what Khya knows, which was awesome, sometimes, for the things I already understood. But at other times, it would leave me a little behind. There was less of that in this book, because, like I said in the plot section, there were a lot of things Khya didn’t know either; but there were still a few that either I had forgotten from the first book or Khya latched onto quicker than I did, so it would take a couple extra pages for me to get tracking with the rest of them. Still, it was really amazing to read something so immersively from a character’s POV, so for that, I gotta give it props.
As far as the setting, well… it’s not Itagami, I’ll put it that way. It’s interesting to watch the characters’ wonder in their new world and to see all the different locations through Khya’s eyes. I could picture them all as she did: wild, colorful, new, and sometimes deadly. In their own way, they were beautiful, and they were very much there.
Writing Style/Setting: 4 stars out of 5.
And so we come in at just over 4 stars out of 5. I really enjoyed this book; like I said, the whole series has been unlike anything I’ve read before. Certainly, there are ideas and starting points that are similar, but the way this has all played out…I’ve just never seen anything quite like it. If you want to to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get Island here and Sea at the links below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Erica Cameron is the author of books for young adults including the Ryogan Chronicles, the Assassins duology, and The Dream War Saga. She also co-authored the Laguna Tides novels with Lani Woodland. An advocate for asexuality and emotional abuse awareness, Erica has also worked with teens at a residential rehabilitation facility in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale.
So, what was the last utterly unique book you read? What are you planning to read this Holiday season? Can’t wait to hear from you all, and don’t forget to check out the other spots on the tour!
~ Love, Alexa ❤
Notes: I voluntarily and honestly reviewed a free copy of this book.
Content: various sexual references; one sex scene.