Book Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

There are some books I read because I love the author and other books I get because I like the premise. And then there’s books like this one, that I read just because I like the cover. It is a rather shallow reasoning, but, what can I say, I’m an impulse reader.

I’m usually against YA fiction. It’s so rare to find one I actually like, and most of them are filled with clichéd tropes which have me yawning all the way through. But this novel was…unexpected.

Release: April 24, 2018

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Eelyn is a warrior of the Aska clan, who are deadlocked in an eternal fight with the Riki clan. Five years ago, her own brother was killed in a battle with the Riki…or at least, she thought so. Until she sees him once again on the battlefield, fighting with her sworn enemy. When she is taken hostage by the Riki, she is faced with a reality she never knew existed and dangers from unexpected places.

Non-Spoiler Review:

I went into this book with low expectations, and left it feeling rather impressed. It’s not a perfect book by any means and I had my criticisms (when do I ever not have criticisms?), but for the most part it was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t like Eelyn in the beginning, but she grew on me, and some of the themes in the book were interesting. The ending was a bit rushed, but the overall plot was provoking and the characters were memorable.

Let’s start with my thoughts on Eelyn. In the beginning, I didn’t like her. She was a warrior (which felt totally unrealistic when she was fighting men twice her size and beating them, but I learned to suspend disbelief quickly in this book), but she didn’t feel very flawed. As the story progressed, however, I could see how her pride and prejudice (Lol) was warping her views of the world, but how she overcame them to be a better person.

There is a great scene in the book (two scenes, actually) where Eelyn shows her moral character. The Tala, the woman who is leader of the Raki village she is held captive in, doesn’t help her when Eelyn is strung up in a tree to die. And yet, not long after when the village is attacked by another enemy, Eelyn saves the Tala. It shows that Eelyn values human life above her own grudges and because of her action the Tala later offers her a blood bond.

There were a lot of things in this book which could have been explained more, and the writing was very minimalist. Whether it was the religion and the gods which these people worshiped or the organization of their society, it wasn’t really explained. For example, both men and women were warriors as well as leaders, making me assume that the society was equal, which makes it certainly not realistic to real Vikings, where the men protected the women and children at all coast. Also, many times a character would get badly hurt and then be able to fight in a matter of days, which is not how wounds work! We don’t learn much about the history of this place either. Who are the Riki? The Aska? The Herja? The world isn’t really explained at all.

But most of my criticisms could easily be washed away by saying that this is a fanciful world, not a realistic one. People do not act the way they would in our world, nor are the rules or human limitations the same.

One of the main themes in the book, and one of my favorite parts of the book, is the idea that the Riki and Aska are more similar than different. That they hate each other without even knowing who the other is (a bit like Romeo’s and Juliet’s family). I find this is the case with many of us in modern society. We have certain preconceived notions about people who are different than us. But this is mostly because we don’t take the time to understand the other person’s beliefs. I loved this theme in the book, because it felt so accurate to real life (minus us actually trying to kill each other with swords and axes).

The only thing left to talk about was the ending, which was slightly disappointing to me.

Spoiler Alert!

In the beginning, everything progressed slowly and mostly realistically. Whether it was the growing friendship and romance between Eelyn and Fiske, the young man who saved her brother’s life, or her changing relationship with her brother, it all made sense.

And then about fifty pages from the ending, it felt as if everything was super rushed.

The entire plot revolves around the Riki and the Aska realizing that they must band together to fight the Herja, a powerful army which is coming to kill them both. But the actual battle with the Herja only lasts about one chapter. Likewise, where the romance was progressing slowly in the beginning, it just fell into a bunch of clichés in the ending, feeling forced more than accurate.

I feel as if the author wrote a longer book and then the editor was like, “No, we have to shorten it.” And so she condensed the ending. I’m not sure if that is what happened, but the plot certainly felt like that. It didn’t make me hate the book; it just felt a bit anti-climatic and predictable. And (perhaps this is the bloodthirsty side of me) I was kind of hoping some character we loved died in the final battle, because honestly that would have been realistic. But no, everyone got a perfect happy ending, and it felt totally forced!

Also, even after reading the book, I still don’t get the title…Sky in the Deep? Was it a reference to something I missed? Did sky reference the gods of these people? Or the Deep reference the frozen lake? I didn’t really get the title…

Conclusion

For a YA fantasy, this is a very enjoyable book. It reminded me in the beginning of some of my favorite Sherwood Smith books, though the ending did change things a bit. However, it is one of the best books I read published this year and, if you like YA fantasy, I would recommend this book.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts about fantasy books and suspending disbelief? Do you prefer having a lush world or focusing more on the characters? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

  1. I quite agree with you about preconceived notions! I watched the film Fantastic Beasts 2 several days ago and I’m impressed with Newt’s relationship with these beasts. What Newt says to Tina is similar to what you’ve said.

    In my book, prejudice, harm and even wars usually result from misunderstanding. And it’s understanding that leads to kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a beautiful idea: preconceived notions lead only to pain and misery. I haven’t seen the new Fantastic Beasts 2, but the first movie was really good.

      I wish every war was caused by misunderstandings like in your book, though often times they are caused by people who want more power and control. I was watching a documentary about the Japanese invasion of China during WWII, and there was no misunderstanding! The Japanese wanted power and did horrible things to achieve it. So sad!

      But I agree that understanding leads to kindness. I always love the phrase “walk in another’s shoes,” which means simply to understand things from their perspective. I try to do this with everyone I meet!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for reminding me of the important elements that results in harm and wars! I was reading a lot about misunderstanding those days during which I left the comment and I almost forgot that people hurt each other for their own good, especially power and fortune. 😞And some evil crimes are even committed for no reason. I can’t help but think of Malice by Keigo Higashino…

        Human is a complicated mixture of Angel and Devil.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So true! I think we shouldn’t just look at the failings of humanity just as we shouldn’t only look at their virtues. Instead, we need to understand both exist in the world. I do enjoy reading your comments so much! They are so insightful.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I wouldn’t trust someone who didn’t say they were at least a little shallow, so you’re okay in my books. 😀

    The book doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but as for suspension of disbelief, I feel I have a lot to say. I wanna do a post on it, actually, but somehow I can’t form a coherent thought on the topic. All I’m saying now is, we can’t gloss over stupid or illogical things by saying, “Well, it’s fantasy, you’re supposed to suspend your disbelief here.” That’s something that isn’t presupposed – it must be earned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true. I find myself suspending disbelief, but it still doesn’t feel right to do so. But I suppose it’s easier to suspend it when you’re reading a fantasy than when you’re reading a historical novel. But I would love you read your thoughts on this topic, if you ever do form coherent thought on that topic!

      Like

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