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The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier

The Floating Islands

by Rachel Neumeier

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2071156,585 (3.82)12



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Look, if you want to write an omniscient novel, write from an omniscient point of view! Don’t give us long, somewhat telepathic descriptions of what a 14-year boy can interpret from a person’s facial expression. We’re not even dealing with deductive genius like Sherlock Holmes here.

I had such high hopes for this book. The setting (and some magical concepts) are creative and both exotic and wondrous. But it was seriously lacking in other areas.

I won't go into everything, but practically speaking, I think kids might have a hard time getting through the long chapters which sometimes lose their momentum. Characterization is weak at times (mr perfect prince comes to mind). I got tired of the spices (cumin mentioned 19 times, ginger 24--though to be honest, I'm surprised it's that few). The book lacks flow, and the changes in perspectives don't always work. It often feels like you're jumping around.

And then that ending! It was ridiculous. They decided not to go forward with their goals because that country honorably released their prisoners? And then the emperor released the traitor? And he's going to scold the traitor’s unknown civilian uncle?? Seriously? I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes. And perhaps worst of all, there was no real depth to this story.

Like I said, promising, but failed to deliver. ( )
  EuronerdLibrarian | Feb 25, 2014 |
Loved this book. Magic, adventure, romance, friendship are all in this book. Two cousins are brought together and one wants to be a mage and the other an island flyer. ( )
  SparklePonies | Feb 13, 2014 |
Trei comes to the Floating Islands, which are held aloft by wind dragon magic, from Rounn - a long way to the north in Toulonn - having lost his home and family and town to a volcanic eruption. His mother's family welcomes him in - but he has seen the kajuraihi who ride the winds, and has been taken by a deep longing to be one of them. His cousin Araenè is a gifted cook, but her future is circumscribed, as she is a girl in a society where girls are not provided with an education and are only expected to marry well. Trei, too, faces opposition to his chosen career, as a half-breed Toulonnese boy; Toulonn being a war-like nation from which the Floating Islands consider themselves independent. But Toulonn has other ideas about that.

I really enjoyed this story. The chapters alternate between the two cousins, giving us a dual viewpoint of the city of Canpra, which is the capital of the Floating Islands. It is well written, though not complex, and kept me wanting to read on.


Five stars.

( )
  humouress | Nov 1, 2013 |
Detailed and creative world building; well-developed magic system; great characters; beautiful writing with lots of sensory imagery; dragons! ( )
1 vote SheilaRuth | Aug 23, 2013 |
Jessie's List of Reasons Why *You* Should Read The Floating Islands:

~ magic!
(Of the two novels by this author that I have read so far, she takes pains to create unique, if somewhat similar, systems of magic for her fantasy worlds.)

~ magic dragons - some of wind and some of fire!
(And both kinds are key to the plot of the story AND the backstory of both the main characters Trei and Araenè. Their respective connections to my favorite mythical beast added to the story.)

~ girls masquerading as boys for the freedom that gender provides
(Araenè is one of the prickliest and grouchiest protagonists I've come across in some time. However the restrictions on her life, due to gender and her society's repression of woman makes it understandable and her sympathetic in her flaws.)

~ dragon-given ability for people to fly with man-made wigs
(They're called kajuraihi - and this one aspect of unique worldbuilding and magic does a lot set this YA fantasy apart. The techniques and history of the society aren't as explained as they could have been - but the mystery of how the sky-mad do what they do works for them.)

~an intriguing setting unlike others I've ever read
(I've read fantasy novels about islands, about avaricious empires, about complex societies and castes, but none that combined all of those in a story about floating islands fighting against a land-bound empire. I love when authors do something new in their genre, and that is exactly the case here.)

~ complex, interesting characters
(And I'm not just talking about Trei and Araenè, either. The novice master, Cerfei, Genrai, Trei's family, etc.; All are reasonably fleshed out - both good and bad aspects. It's a vast improvement over the Karah Mary Sue nature of Neumeier's House of Shadows main characters.)

~ a creative plot
(involving warring cultures, themes of loss and home, battles of steam technology versus nature, etc. Captivating and just plain fun from start to finish.)

The Floating Islands had a lot going for it. Compulsively readable, intensely unique, and well-written, it's going to easily stand out for fans of fantasy. Fans of Neumeier's previous novels will enjoy it and new fans will find it a promising entrance into the vivid imagination of a prolific and talented author. ( )
  msjessie | Feb 4, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375847057, Hardcover)

When Trei loses his family in a tragic disaster, he must search out distant relatives in a new land. The Floating Islands are unlike anything Trei has ever seen: stunning, majestic, and graced with kajurai, men who soar the skies with wings.

Trei is instantly sky-mad, and desperate to be a kajurai himself.  The only one who fully understands his passion is Araene, his newfound cousin.  Prickly, sarcastic, and gifted, Araene has a secret of her own . . . a dream a girl cannot attain.

Trei and Araene quickly become conspirators as they pursue their individual paths.  But neither suspects that their lives will be deeply entwined, and that the fate of the Floating Islands will lie in their hands. . . .

Filled with rich language, and told in alternating voices, The Floating Islands is an all-encompassing young adult fantasy read.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:30 -0400)

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The adventures of two teenaged cousins who live in a place called The Floating Islands, one of whom is studying to become a mage and the other one of the legendary island flyers.

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