Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review: Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon

Title: Take Back the Skies
Author: Lucy Saxon
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publish Date: June 3rd, 2014

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 . . .

Written by 19 year old Lucy Saxon, Take Back the Skies is one of the most entrancing fantasy worlds I've read since Shadow and Bone. Between the sky ships, the storm bands, and the mechas, I don't think there could be a more interesting setting. You know a book has won you over when you wish you could live in that world just to see all of its wonders. A little bit steampunk, a lot a bit fantasy, I couldn't get enough.

Even though Cat is only fourteen at the start of Take Back the Skies, the beginning of the book is written in a way that feels mature, despite the young character. Cat still feels fourteen, though, which is what really dragged me in. She's innocent, but intelligent, and likable. The same goes for Fox, the love interest. He's impossible not to like, even though he can be a little moody from time to time. Mostly he's just a grouchy sixteen year old boy with a sad story and not a whole lot of friends his age. I loved how you could see his excitement when Cat came along, not because he was interested in her romantically, but because he had a new friend to share things with. Basically, he was completely adorable.

There were a few things about Take Back the Skies that took away from my overall enjoyment of the story so I have to mention them. The story started off fast paced, getting right into the plot and the action, but around midway the pacing dropped off and never really steadied itself. I think most of this had to do with one of the big mystery reveals coming far too early in the story, not to mention the drawn out way of getting to said reveal. And once I figured out the mystery, there was still about 30% left in the book. It felt like most of the additional storyline could have done well as the plot leading into a sequel, and it would have saved the story from dragging on for so long.

Then there were the characters. Now, I've said I did like these characters, especially at the start of the book, but they do start to act pretty silly around midway through. The romance goes from adorable to "I'll never love anyone the way I love you!" in like two chapters. And once James' character is added there's this whole childish "I knew her first!" jealousy plot that pops up at literally the worst times. I get that they're fifteen, but even fifteen year olds have common sense. And then there was the ending. I'd like to give Saxon a standing ovation for having the guts to do what she did in the end, but I'm not pleased with the way the story wrapped up for Cat. Or, actually, I'm not happy with the way Cat let her story be wrapped up. This was a girl who wanted the world to know how fierce she was and who refused to let her father or anyone else control her and then (highlight for spoilers) lets an entire country decide who she should be married to without even attempting to choose a life for herself. (End of spoiler) I respected that fire and independence in her, but she just let it all go in the end.

The only other complaint I had was when the big baddie reveals came, it was a little cliche. Bad Guy reveals all of his plans before even attempting to actually kill the people threatening his evil plans. And also, Cat just, like, goes ahead and puts everything on the table right away. I've never been in a situation like that, but I'd imagine it's best to play your cards close to the vest when you're dealing with madmen. It all just seemed to happen too easily, everything coming together a little too smoothly and safely. Then there's another baddie reveal later on, but that one felt even more cliche to me. Again, it was wrapped up so easily and the only real danger in the whole scene could have also been handled easily if the characters had bothered to pay attention for half a second.

But, all together, the story was intriguing and the characters were lovable enough that I wanted to know more about them. Plus the setting was amazing and I want more stories set there! I don't know if there will be new characters or if Saxon will revisit Cat and the gang in any future novels, but either way I'm in! If you're a fan of fantasy you'll want to give Take Back the Skies a try to see what you think. I know I'll be waiting anxiously for Saxon's next novel, set in this world or not. She's definitely a young author to keep your eyes on!

For more about Take Back the Skies check out these sites!

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  1. Wow, I can't believe the authors only 19. That's incredible. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the world building even if other parts of the story were frustrating.

    1. I heard she actually wrote it when she was 16, so my mind is like blown. With a little more experience I think she has the ability to become a favorite author of mine :)

  2. Glad you loved this. Trying to decide whether to read it or not and this review has pushed me toward "yes."
    Jen @ YA Romantics


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