First it needs to be said that this book is edited right. I did not want to bash my brains out due to grammar errors. The writing isn't too bad eitherFirst it needs to be said that this book is edited right. I did not want to bash my brains out due to grammar errors. The writing isn't too bad either. It has life and a flavor to it. Sadly the overall story, events, and characters bored me. I fell asleep while reading. Had to skip a few parts that basically went exactly how I knew they would. (For a read-every-word girl like me, that's not a good sign.)
The first thing I need to touch base with was the world building. The idea of a world where humans evolved into mages, and then the mages experimented on humans that then created shifters is awesome. When first diving into the story I thought this was an urban fantasy read. It felt like it. It revealed we were not on our earth, but a totally made up one. Cool. Then all of a sudden a steambike pops up and whams me in the face. OK. I rolled with it because the idea that this is a made up world with steampunk technology thrilled me.
So it was a steampunk fantasy world!
Maybe? The technology felt off because there was a power plant and lots of things that didn't quite fit a steampunk world. Such as sweatpants. And I'm assuming they are sweats, because that is the term used for them. Sweats in fantasy/steampunk worlds are usually “loose pants” or “baggy pants”. “Work out pants.” So on. Because the type of technology to make our kind of sweats does not mesh with the world.
I'm a picky reader. I felt like Walt simply wanted me to feel in the blanks. Assume a lot of things about this world. Which sucked.
Ah, the cast of characters. Who all felt barrowed from other stories and pieced together. Definitely urban fantasy characters. Who did and said the things I expected them to. The lead was supposed to be witty and snarky, but I found her more stupid and irritating. Rude. The male interests where boring and so typical that no attempt was made to flesh them out.
Oh, and the lead is magically attracted to the rude—excuse me mysterious/misunderstood—Chief Mage. AKA the man with all the power that seems like a bad guy but isn't. Of course she's drawn to him despite herself.
The mystery of her mentor's death and the “silver murders” is tacked onto the lead's secret being found out and so on. It's all rather boring. And well typical. (Yeah, I'm tired of using that word.) Actually it may have behooved this series to get us to care about the lead and her world before playing all of its cards.
The names of the characters have already left my head. Instead I remember them as stereotypes that did their stereotypical things. That just happened to be cut into a stereotypical UF plot. Which is a true shame as the basis of this world was so unique. With an underwhelming romance and boring plot. Despite the fact that this is supposed to be a fantasy steampunk world. It all falls short because it's so busy following the steps of a Urban Fantasy book that it forgets to be itself. To build emotions and distinguish its characters from the many others out there. To build the world and not just the buildings and rooms. To have the world figured out enough to clue readers into the hows and whys. Thumbs up for solid editing. Thank you.
Sexual Content: Sexual humor, minor dark themes, and overall clean.
There's a point when stories become predictable maybe because you read a lot, watched a lot of movies/TV shows, and are generally good at picking up oThere's a point when stories become predictable maybe because you read a lot, watched a lot of movies/TV shows, and are generally good at picking up on cues. Well. I am good at all of those. Predicting how a story is going to turn out is easy. (Visualize a very smug smile.) So what happens when a book bitch slaps you with an amazing plot twist, right after you've SMUGGLY called the plot and have decided how this promising read is going to crumble? When it proves that the author will go there, and yes characters shall die!!!?
Well for me, I throw a mini party. Which involved dancing for a short amount of time before I immediately went back to reading. Eating up Air Awakens to it's promising conclusion, and even better promise of where this series is going to go!
So I had been picking up on some genre tropes. Also I had it in my mind that this was a High Fantasy and it is, but there are more romance elements then I had anticipated. The first half of the book is predictable for the most part. There's a “Heartbreaker Prince” and then the Royal heir to be who happens to be “cold” and broody. You get me. Some men keep telling Vhalla how special she is. “You are special” was in fact used by one character, and many variations of it where made.
However, Kova was a master of smoothing it all over. (Accept for one major idiotic moment. And memory loss.) The saving grace is that Vhalla is a wonderful character. It's in her favor that she's a librarian apprentice—great character—but she's well thought out. She's naive, kind, and smart. I enjoy that she's not closed off about sex (don't worry it's clean for the kiddies) she's on the cusp of becoming a women and I loved how it was all handled. This is a true book of growing up, but in a more adult vein. She's a women, but she realizes how much her life needs to grow emotionally and in experiencing life. Living through her books alone isn't enough. Most importantly she realizes how as a girl she's never made a lot of big decisions for herself, and the women she wants to become is a decision maker!
Her world had grown, as a child, she had accepted that better than as a young woman.
Why did growing up shrink her mind?
The magic of this book is interesting, and unfortunately not as explored as I would like. But it fit with the book and where Vhalla was at. What is given is super fascinating and I LOVE the world that Kova has created. Her writing was spot on, and only a few misworded moments could be spotted. Humor, emotions, danger, battles, and the budding feelings of friendship (soon-to-be-full-blown-undeniable-love, come on) are expertly delivered. Ha, witty dialogue, I've missed you.
“Fire needs air to live. Air fuels fire, stokes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it ever could alone. But too much air will snuff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air. They are far greater than the sum of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other's existence.”
Kova does a wonderful job of not only bringing Vhalla to life (her name makes me want to call her Valhalla!) but her side characters and male lead as well. Characters that just seem like stereotypes find surprising depth, or a surprising twist in the story line. Though that's not to say they aren't a stereotype, but their well realized enough that I enjoy their presence in the story. Sadly a lot of them went there in the story, until Vhalla needed them. Some were just bare window dressings. Also loved the hint that one character might be homosexual? Hm? (Sadly one character who was neglected.)
Air Awakens reminds me of the awesomeness of Mercedes Lackey's Arrows of the Queen. While there's no magical white horses and . . . well they really don't have too much in common. It's the tone and the amazing growing up part that they have in common. Plus, both books signal amazing sequels to come. Hopefully with more side characters getting decent page time. Vhalla is one of the most unique, interesting, and well developed leads I've read in a while. Most importantly she's different.
Sexual Content: Vhalla has had past experiences, there is some frank talk about sex (nothing too scandalous for the chillen), maybe hints of homosexuality (or I'm reading too much into it), some kissing, and sexual humor. (Bless this book.)
3/5- Adored it, just a few minor details held it back.