Monday, April 14, 2014

Early Review: Take Back the Skies (Take Back the Skies #1) by Lucy Saxon

Release Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter  

Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.
So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . .

So 2 stars, huh?
Yeah, it was pretty bad.
Hear me out, 'cause I think this is going to be an author to watch.
I was probably a hundred pages into this thing before it started to go sideways. Up to that point, I actually thought this was going to be at least a 4 star book.
The descriptions of Cat, her life, and the world she lived in were all really interesting.
Catherine is a 14 year old girl who lives a life of privilege because her father is a government official. The country is at war with it's neighbors, so any child over 13 is subject to Collection (basically a draft), but Catherine is exempt due to her family's status. They don't live on rations, she has nice clothes, etc. But her dad is a dickhole, and she's got an arranged marriage to another dickhole hanging over her head. So she chops off her hair, pulls on some pants, and stows away on an airship that's headed out of the country. As luck would have it, the crew of the ship are good people. In fact, they smuggle extra rations and supplies to the poor people in her country. And once they discover Cat onboard, they sort of adopt her into their family.
There's also a nice steampunk vibe to the world, by the way.
So far, so good.

Then some wonky things started cropping up that made me scratch my head.
First, Cat discovers a horrible secret about her government when she travels outside of the country. The crew already knew what the government had been up to, but for obvious reasons they couldn't do much about it. Naturally, being 14 and full of righteous indignation, she tells the adults that they need to do something about it.
But here's the kicker:
All of these adults just basically say, "Yep! You're right! Let's overthrow the government!".
I mean, I'm fairly confident that the conversation wouldn't go down that way. But let's pretend it did.
So now that we've decided on starting a rebellion, we'll need months to plan out what to do. We need to find some allies, gather supplies, do some reconnaissance, right?
How does the day after tomorrow sound to you?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure we've got some high explosives sittin' around here somewhere, and Jethro will scrounge up some blueprints to the building.
Wheeee! Here we go!

No. Just, no, to that entire plotline.

The love story was equally frustrating, because for the first half of the book our heroine is 14. She's a kid for Christ's sake! And even once she turned 15...well, she was barely 15.
Then there's the hero.
To say the very least, Fox was not all that and a bag of bread crumbs. He was (I believe) 17 or 18, but he came across like an incredibly petulant child. The vast majority of the time his moods were swinging back and forth between sulky and blatantly obnoxious. If something needed to be said or done at an inappropriate time...Fox was your man.
Unsurprisingly, those two fell in love. Also, unsurprisingly, the declarations of their Everlasting Lurve were a source of severe annoyance to me.
How? How can you know that you will never love another, Cat?!
You. Are. A. Child.
But the moment I truly gave up was when Cat started bragging in a very 'neener neener' sort of way to the bad guy. She did the classic Villain Monologue! She gave away the entire plan...while basically trapped in his lair!
Let me tell you EXACTLY how we plan to bring you down!
'Cause NOW you know how incredibly intelligent we are!
Oh. Wait. 
Is that a gun in your hand?
By the end of the book, there had been so many WTF?! That would NEVER Happen moments, that I was supremely pissed off.
1 star rating, here we come!
And then...
I looked at the author's bio on Goodreads.
Ok, here's the part where I tell you that this is an author to seriously watch for in the upcoming years.
Saxton wrote this when she was 16, found a publisher when she was 17, and is now 19.
Ooooooooh. So that's why it was so frustratingly childish. Duh. She was a kid when she wrote this!
I can hear teenagers out there stomping their feet and screaming, "Nu-uh! I am not a child!"
Yes. Yes, the fuck you are.
Go take a time-out, and we'll revisit this conversation in about 15 years.
Now, I don't know why someone in the publishing house didn't bother to point out that there were a lot of unrealistic plot holes, or that the interactions between Cat and the other characters would not play out that way in real-life.
It was a silly waste, because the kid created an interesting world, and the writing was pretty damn decent for the first good bit of the book. I also applaud the route she took at the end of the book, but it was somewhat ruined by a weird epilogue that didn't need to be there.
Let's face it, you only know what you know. And Life Experience is something you absolutely have to experience to have. So no matter how mature, intelligent, or talented you are at 16, you still aren't going to be able to grasp the details of life that can only be learned through...well, getting older.
I really can't in good conscience give this more than 2 stars, because knowing why it sounds juvenile doesn't actually make the book itself better.
Given enough time, I think this author has the potential to blow our socks off.


Melliane said...

I'm sorry it wasn't for you, but it's nice to see that there are some things really interesting in it too, maybe for later. I think I'll pass but who knows maybe in the future something else by the author.


This girl has an excellent imagination for worlds, so I think once she gets a little older she could do well.

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