In many ways, this has been a review long-coming. Quite a while ago now, I saw Dearen talking on her Twitter account about Alora and the upcoming book. There was a sale going on–but it was only on the Kindle store, and I only had a Nook. I sent a message off to her, asking if she’d consider making a Nook book, since the story sounded interesting and I wanted to read it, and wasn’t fond of reading books on my computer screen. (I still am, though I do it for editing.) Besides, I had a friend named Alora. Why wouldn’t I want to read this?
Some time later, Dearen messaged me to let me know that the Nook book was out! I was thrilled–though I couldn’t afford it, being on a very restrictive budget due to my lack of a job (or possibly only being in the earliest days of said job; I can’t remember the timeline.) So I waited, watching the tweets go by, wondering about the book.
For Christmas, I got a Kindle. Guess what the first book I borrowed was.
I wasn’t let down by the wait for ALORA. I’ll admit, what threw me off first was that at first glance I didn’t see that “the wander-jewel” was a subtitle and not something applied to Alora herself. I went into the book thinking that the wander-jewel was something Alora was rather than something she had. Small critique, mostly my fault.
The book starts a little slow–and a little strangely–which mirrors Alora’s experience nicely, if making it the tiniest of struggles to get into the book. There is a lot of information dumped right at the get-go, but again–it’s dumped on Alora as well. It’s overwhelming but not impossible, and we make the connections along with our heroine. Alora is a young woman who was abruptly left in the care of our world by her mother just before she died/vanished. Learning this, in conjunction with the visions she keeps having of a young man she’s never seen before, Alora begins to wonder who she really is and what powers she truly has…and she’s got to figure it out before it’s too late. (I know, it’s vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything!)
I love Kaevin and the world he comes from. It’s complete, it’s rich, it’s well-described. Any fictional culture that makes me sit there going “okay, well if my eyes are grey, then that means I’m in which clan?” after finishing is a success in my book. (For the record: my father and I are both of Air Clan, and my mother of Sun. I’m hoping there’s no great war we’re flying in the face of.) Tenavae tweaks all my fanfic author urges, and I love it.
It also leads up nicely to the sequel I know exists, without feeling like it depends on the sequel to tell the story. It’s a failing too many series have (as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews) and it always feels like a let-down, getting to the end and not feeling like you’ve had a complete story. WANDER-JEWEL stands well alone, but leaves the reader desperate for know, needing to know what happens next.
It’s a solid book: romantic without being overwrought (which would have been incredibly easy to do, given the circumstances involved), adventurous without being unbelievable for the age group, fantastic without being extreme. And it has the added benefit of having Charles Whitford, uncle extraordinaire and all-around good guy. (In my eyes, he’s the Charlie that the father from Tw!light should/could have been. Though I think the two would get along. Damn kids.) Kaevin’s reaction to Montana is equally balanced–again, another balance that’s tricky to master. Too much and it seems contrived, too little and it’s hard to believe. Dearen walks the line quite well, if perhaps making his learning curve a little slow.
All in all, I’m very much looking forward to reading the sequel, and you’ll likely see a review pop up for that as well.
Review: **** (Recommended)