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Tellus #1

Take Back the Skies

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From Book 1: 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 . . .

384 pages, Hardcover

First published June 3, 2014

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About the author

Lucy Saxon

3 books129 followers
Lucy Saxon is 26 and lives in Hertfordshire with her parents. She describes herself as a cosplayer, con-goer, book-lover and all-round nerdgirl.

Lucy wrote her first novel, Take Back the Skies, at the age of sixteen, finding a home for it with Bloomsbury at seventeen, and is now working on the rest of the series.

When not writing, Lucy spends most of her time on the internet, reading books and slaving over her sewing machine.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 262 reviews
October 31, 2014
As she turned, he wiped a hand across his forehead, pulled his undershirt off and dropped it to the floor to join his shirt and waistcoat. Cat’s cheeks turned a fiery red upon seeing his bare chest, and she resisted the urge to groan. She’d never been attracted to anyone before; why did it have to start now?
This book is incredibly bad. It not only has a plot driven by extreme predictability and deus ex fucking machina, it also contains a motherfucking love triangle, not to mention the most girly girl-disguised-as-a-boy in the entire make-believe universe.

You know how in Japanese and Korean dramas, there are sometimes crossdressing females. They're sometimes disguised as a male band member, other times as an ordinary student, but the point is that they're immediately recognizable as female because they are absolutely atrocious as passing as the opposite sex? Um, hello Ouran Kokou. Nobody in real life would be so stupid. Hello To the Beautiful You. That's a girl?! Why, NOBODY COULD TELL EVER. Slap me with a tuna and call me Sally!

**that's supposed to be a boy**

But apparently, people in books really are that stupid, because that's exactly what happens in this book. This book is a cheap $2 knockoff of the brilliant series, Firefly, whose main character, a carbon-copy Kaylee-wannabe, is a crossdressing female disguised as a male, whose disguise is so fucking terrible, she wouldn't fool a blind man and his equally blind dog.

**that's supposed to be a boy**

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that a guy cannot be sensitive, a guy cannot blush, a guy should not display his emotions, but there are certain stereotypes that we all ascribe to a gender. In order to correctly disguise ourselves as a certain gender, you should strive to use some fucking common sense. When you are under disguise, you shouldn't assume that the person you are talking to is going to be fucking politically correct.

If you blush, if you stammer, if you motherfucking glooooooooooow, you shouldn't assume that someone is going to say "He must be a girl! He's blushing! Oh, wait, no. I shouldn't make all sorts of false presumptions. Guys can be feminine, too!" Fuck that shit, they're going to say "This is bullshit, you're a girl, even if your tits are bound. You are so fucking transparent, it's not even funny."

This book is about a wealthy, pampered girl who has never seen hardship in her entire life. For some fucking reason, she decides that she wants to rebel and be a soldier, because wars are so fucking awesome!
‘I’m running away,’ she declared defiantly. ‘I refuse to be married off to that awful Gale boy. Tomorrow I’m going to the shipyard to stow away.’
So excitement. Such declaration. Wow.

In order to do that, Catherine has to disguise herself as a boy. She cuts off her hair. She wears pants! PANTS!!!!!

**that's supposed to be a boy**

Fuck you.

Again. I'm not trying to stereotype here, but this is not about fucking stereotyping. It is about common sense. It is about first impressions. Catherine is the worst "boy" in the entire world. She won't motherfucking stop blushing, before AND after she's discovered.

Boys generally do not blush. Catherine? Well...

**that's supposed to be a boy**

‘Blimey, you’re a short ’un,’ he teased, making her blush.

Forcing herself not to blush at his words, she shrugged.

Catherine blushed at the pointed look Fox gave her.

He was dressed in a plain cotton undershirt, which was clinging to his muscular chest, and braces hung loose from his waist. Catherine blushed, despite herself. This man was built like a giant!

Cat blushed, making the woman roll her eyes. ‘It’s not your fault, lass.’

Cat looked down at herself, blushing when she realised she’d run from her room in the undershirt and long cotton shorts.

Cat smiled at that, trying to keep the blush off her face.

‘I stowed away on a skyship, where he lives. In his wardrobe, in fact,’ Cat said with a faint blush.

‘I wouldn’t marry James, you know,’ she blurted out, then blushed.

Cat blushed lightly at the mention of sharing a bed with Fox.

...just a few examples. A few. I'm dead serious.

**I'm just kidding, that actually is a guy**

Boys generally do not flush Catherine? Well...

Her cheeks flushed as she tried to ignore the sight of his tensed biceps. She felt a strange sensation in her stomach.

Cat flushed at the implication that she needed someone to hold her hand.

Cat flushed at the implication that there was something between her and Fox to be jealous of.

Boys do not turn red, turn pink, their cheeks generally do not grow fiery all the fucking time.

Cat’s cheeks turned a fiery red upon seeing his bare chest, and she resisted the urge to groan.

She retreated to her room, staring at herself in the mirror. Her face was red, and she looked distinctly flustered.

She most definitely did not stare at his backside as he bent over, though the faint pink on her cheeks betrayed her.

Boys generally do not wail, look dreamy all the damn time, nor do they get all fucking glowy

"I never knew there were so many small parts involved in keeping an engine running,’ she gushed. Fox laughed.

‘It’s amazing! I can’t believe how far you can see from up there, and the sea is so fierce!’ she gushed.

Cat’s eyes widened; how did a woman have nine children without her body giving out?

Cat’s eyes widened, impressed.

‘Answers,’ Cat reminded pointedly, opening her eyes wider to give Matt a prompting look.

‘But it was so pretty, Alice, the storms were incredible! I’ve never seen a storm that close up before,’ Cat replied, a dreamy smile lighting her face.

Retreating back into her room, she let out a long wail of despair, cursing under her breath.

The predictability: At the beginning of the story, we are given an intriguing hint...a mysterious comment by her dying mother. Catherine was to have been betrothed to the a prince, the future king. A king who has long been deposed, the prince gone missing...
‘When you were but a baby, and I was in better health, I used to talk of betrothing you to a beautiful little boy who would grow up to be a great man. But alas, he’s gone, as is his mother …’
‘Fox … if I’m not mistaken, this is Queen Mary Latham, and her son Prince James. The lost monarchs of Anglya.’
I'm shocked. Aghast. My jaw just dropped to the floor.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Deus ex fucking machina: Also known as writer's block. It is a cheap fucking plot decide in which the main character gets himself or herself out of every fucking impossible situation because...well, because.

Advantageous things happen far too easily. A stowaway suddenly climbs on board a ship and is somehow allowed to stay there? Sure, why the fuck not?! Just let a complete stranger on board.
'...I just need to get away.’

The boy eyed her contemplatively.‘Well. You’ve succeeded. This ship is heading straight to Siberene. Is that far away enough for you?’
The inhabitants of the ship reveal their secret just like *snaps fingers* that! Within 5 minutes of knowing this young strange stowaway. Why the fuck not?!
‘We may or may not fill the lowest level – which doesn’t exist in the ship’s registered blueprints – with items monitored under rationing. And we may or may not happen to misplace those items among the needy of Anglya.’
Catherine stared at him, realisation dawning. ‘You’re smugglers!’
Fabulous accidents happen to resolve things! Overwhelming expectations are fulfilled! A young, sheltered noblewoman turns into a skilled pickpocket without any training!
She might not have done it before, but she knew the idea behind it; be sneaky and silent enough to pinch a purse while the person is distracted, then slip away as quickly and quietly as possibly so that you don’t get caught.
It's so fucking simple! And how easy to achieve success!
Two hours and four bulging purses later, Cat was well and truly into the swing of things.
Well, that's just bloody easy. If only it was so easy to get your hand into someone's pants without them noticing.

Plots just resolve themselves out of nowhere! Kingdom-destroying secrets are revealed through some odd twists of fate. A long-lost royal family is discovered when Catherine stumbles upon them out of fucking nowhere!

This book is so incredibly bad. Don't waste your money.
504 reviews141 followers
Shelved as 'watch-list'
January 31, 2014
A sci-fi book written by someone named Lucy Saxon?

Mark me down as "suspicious".

Profile Image for Faye, la Patata.
492 reviews2,116 followers
June 3, 2014
I am so sorry but I just couldn't do it. I've been trying to read this for days, and I either end up falling asleep or typing raging updates.

DNF at 50%

As Cait said in her review, I may have enjoyed this if I were younger. The writing style is kind of young and needs a lot of polishing. We're always being told of this and that, what was Cat feeling in such a blunt way, that I felt super disconnected. More showing than telling, please! I need a more emotional attachment to Cat, and this unfortunately wasn't made.

Because of the clunky and tell-than-show style of writing, it sometimes felt the book had no transition. Things happened conveniently and easily.

Example (non-verbatim):

Crew of 5-6: There's actually a conspiracy and cover-up going on. It's been like this for almost a decade. There's nothing we can do. As much as we want change, we can't do anything. We're nobodies.
Heroine-Who-Everybody-Adores: No! This must be stopped! We can't let this continue!
Crew: You're right! You're such a genius! You're brilliant! We start the rebellion as soon as we land!

From what I've seen there were hardly any transition, or any build-up, so every decision that was made felt superficial and convenient. So for years nobody ever did a damn thing, a young heroine comes along and then just like that everybody is convinced? All in less than 5 pages? Ooooh....kaaaay.

And there were so many plot holes. Like why would the government hate the poor so much to the point of eradicating them when they're the reason they're rich anyway? Who serves and toils for you? The commoners! Who washes your clothes and your dishes? The commoners! So the hate towards them was kind of laughable and silly...

I did skip to the ending and I do think that's the only positive for it. It's different. It's not that it has never been seen before or anything phenomenal like that, but it's not common, and it may be a nice, refreshing change.

Bottomline though? This book really needs more polishing. It read like fanfiction to me, and it distracted and deteriorated my reading experience so much.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,922 reviews69.3k followers
April 15, 2014
Also posted at Addicted2Heroines

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.

NetGalley, arc, honest review, etc...
319 reviews1,884 followers
June 2, 2014
When a bunch of awesome (and admittedly not-so-awesome) tropes are thrown together into one giant hodgepodge of a novel, the result could be pretty dangerous; at worst, the novel could appear hastily written, or that it's trying too hard to appeal to everyone, thereby doing the opposite. At best, when the tropes are established well, it makes for a truly fun and addicting read. The latter is mostly true for Lucy Saxon's engaging debut, Take Back the Skies. In it, some of my favorite tropes are incorporated, most of all the girl main character disguising herself as a boy, as well as foster family-type relationships.

The novel opens with Catherine (Cat) Hunter, the daughter of a politician, about to consummate an arranged marriage her father had planned. Not wanting to live under her father's cruelty and orders any longer, she cuts her hair, disguises herself as a boy, and runs away from her father onto a trading ship. There, she and her new friends hatch a plan to overthrow her father and unleash to the world the secrets the government has been keeping from them.

Basically, the entire plot of Take Back the Skies should be perfect for me, and is thankfully executed well. I had pitched the first half of the novel as She's the Man meets steampunk Firefly, and I stick by that; although it may lack the comedic value of She's the Man, the scenes during which Cat is disguised as a boy are sure to please fans of the trope. The rest of the plot is really fun and interesting, with twists and plenty of political intrigue to go around. This is especially prominent in the second half, after all the planning is through and the arrangements are finally being executed; Saxon brings into play things I hadn't expected, and I loved what she did with the twists of her world and government. Political intrigue and conspiracies related to it are often gritty and dark, and Saxon embraces that for all its worth, and does it well.

The main character, Cat is practically ideal, especially for this type of story; she's rational, isn't afraid to call others out (particularly her love interest, which I'll get to), and is an overall likable character who is easy to sympathize with. When the love interest is sexist (which, unfortunately, is pretty often), she doesn't hesitate show him he's wrong, and after he said he has to protect her because she's a girl and it's his job, she walks up to him and slaps him across the face. Again, ideal main character.

Less ideal, however, is the love interest, Fox. The romance in Take Back the Skies really takes its time, surfacing in the last third, which I really appreciated since it allowed for the plot to take more relevancy over the romance. But, to be blunt, I'm just not a fan of Fox's character in general, least of all his growth after the romance begins to form (and rapidly, once it does). I actually really hated him. I see what the author was trying to accomplish with him, but it so didn't work for me. Character growth is great, but only really when it's believable and when you can see the growth taking place. Here, Fox is almost unrelentingly rude to Cat, and all they truly do is argue and fight for most of the novel; it's not cute and fun banter, which I almost always ship. He tries to protect her, she says she can protect herself, he says he has to protect her because he's a man and she's a woman, rinse and repeat; but when their relationship begins to form, the backbone I loved in Cat takes a bit of a backseat, and Fox isn't called out on his blatant sexism as much. It's still there, as Cat still doesn't hesitate to call Fox out on some of the problematic things he says, but she let's him do the protecting from then on out after their relationship is established, which bothered me a lot. So much of what I loved about the plot and the characters disappeared in the second half of the novel because of the romance. Fox protects her in every scenario deemed dangerous, and ultimately his treatment of Cat could be likened to that of a person with a very fragile infant. Also, their relationship and the sudden passion behind it was just unbelievable; on a tolerance scale, they go from about a one to a ten in a matter of a chapter or two, and then it evolves soon to a cheesy and inexplicable love.

Aside from my qualms with the romance and love interest, Take Back the Skies was a fun and fast paced read that manages to differentiate itself from other novels in its genre, despite not being entirely original. Saxon isn't afraid to take relatively large gambles with her story, characters, and relationships, as clearly evidenced by the novel's ballsy ending, and I would be interested in reading the upcoming sequels in this series and see what more they have to offer.
589 reviews1,031 followers
August 26, 2016
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

DNF around halfway

There's something really exciting about reading a book that was written by a teenager. I mean, how awesome is that? A nineteen year old wrote a book at the age of sixteen got her book published. While I ended up DNFing this book, it's still amazing to think of how Lucy Saxon managed to do this.

I hadn't really heard of this book until late May where all the hype started to brew, and I think that this is a good example where hype takes a turn for bad. However, Take Back the Skies isn't necessarily a terrible novel itself. With time, I would have been able to finish this book, but when you've got exams and homework piling up by the minute and the TBR stack multiplying, I just couldn't waste my time reading something that wasn't appealing to me. To get to the point, I'm just going to list the reasons which led up to me DNFing this novel. I read up to around halfway (not sure, as it was a physical copy) and did a little skimming for a few chapters after that.

1. The writing is incredibly juvenile. Yes, I get it, a teenager wrote this, so what do you expect? But the hype that went around with this book made me think that it was a really good book and the writing was highly advanced. Honestly, I expected much better writing skills to be in this book. I've read a few reviews after I finished reading the book myself, and many said it would appeal to a younger audience. I definitely do agree; in fact, I think this should have been marketed as a middle-grade novel. Being a 14 year old myself, I still struggled to see eye with the main character's view, nevertheless the writing. Furthermore, I was not a fan of the constant exclamation marks and telling vs showing.

2. The love interest and romance were both infuriating. I'm sorry but the romance here, it doesn't work. We get to meet the love interest early on in the novel however the romance doesn't really begin until later in the novel (I read bits of it whilst skimming). I don't have a whole lot to say about the romance other than what I did read, wasn't anything close to chemistry, but Fox, the love interest himself was an ass. I didn't like his personality at all and he also happened to be really sexist. There are several references made throughout the book and it had me fuming up by the second. He protects Cat because she's a girl. Like seriously? U. G. H.

3. So many plot holes and fail world building. I didn't get half of the things that happened in this book and why the government people treated the commoners so terribly. Also, the world building fell completely flat for me. We don't really get to know much about Cat's world and like I mentioned before, there's only telling and not much showing.

In all, I am very disappointed with Take Back the Skies. I am not going to be continuing with the series. However, kudos to the author for writing such a unique idea.

~Thank you Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this copy!~

Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
883 reviews252 followers
March 24, 2015
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

I feel so awkward.
The average rating for this book on Goodreads is 3.27.
Almost every review I see for this book is a negative review.
But I absolutely loved this book.
When I was reading this book, I was very confused by this. I kept seeing this amazing and imaginative book, while a majority of people would see the opposite. Sometimes, when this happens, a seed of doubt plants in my brain and I begin thinking that the book wasn't as great as I thought. But this time, I'm sticking to my original thoughts and feelings on the book. I remember how much I enjoyed reading this and seeing bad reviews shouldn't change that.
Anyway, just wanted to get that out of the way.

I originally wanted to read this book due to multiple reasons.

-The awesome cover
-The fact that the author is young
-The awesome sci-fi premise
This book was actually better than I expected (mostly because I had very low expectations due to the ratings). I thought this book was very imaginative! This book was not only a sci-fi, but a fantasy as well. The author had to come up with the fantasy world as well as the sci-fi elements and the imagination involved in that is astounding!
And I was incredibly engrossed in this book. There was so much happening and I was really interested in what was going on. Sure, some parts were slow, but that oddly didn't bother me.
And, of course, I also loved the gender-bending (although I wished it lasted longer!)

The only issue I had was the ending. I hated the ending.
I hated the last chapter because of a certain thing that happened But my main issue is the Epilogue. I felt that it was pointless, unnecessary, and honestly didn't fit in with the rest of the book. I also pretty much already knew that what happened in the epilogue would eventually happen, so I didn't really see the point in spelling it out for everyone. I was also under the impression that this would be a series and the epilogue hurt any chance of that (unless there's a companion book).
But, to be honest, I generally hate epilogues.

I'm in the minority here, but I really did enjoy this book. The idea was interesting, imagination, and a little bit strange. I basically liked everything about this book except the ending. I just can't stand the ending.
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,006 reviews3,636 followers
June 20, 2014
This review originally appeared on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

If you enjoy being told one very repetitive message throughout a book, only to have the heroine backflip and go against everything she believes in the last few pages, then go ahead and pick up this book.

For everyone else however, you have been warned.

Take Back the Skies has a very feminist message throughout, with the heroine Cat escaping from her oppressive father so she won’t need to sit around in dresses and be married off to someone who she doesn’t like. She pretends to be a boy so she can do what boys do – go out on adventures and help out on a ship. You will be told, over and over throughout the book that Cat is as capable as a boy is, and isn’t an incapable, weak minded and incompetent girl who likes cooking and shopping.

The main love interest is Fox, a handsome, guarded mentor who also happens to be sexist and chauvinistic, which comes out when he discovers that Cat is a girl. And proceed to treat Cat like a weak, useless girl who can’t handle things on her own, which she tries so hard to prove that she isn’t. With some weird turn of events, the two develop a budding romance together where their first kiss will be over the dead body of someone she should care about, but doesn’t one bit.

Last night I found out that not only are you a girl, but you’re a government girl. Excuse me for reacting badly to that information. - Fox

The second love interest (I shouldn’t really call it that, because he’s a non event) is the arrogant lost Prince James, whose annoying nagging and jealousy over Cat and Fox will grind throughout the book. He will throw himself at Cat and tell him his thoughts about their relationship at every single scene he’s in.

Aside from the annoying characters, there’s also an ever-present threat throughout the book, the government. The government is blamed for everything from their miserable lives, to how women are treated, to taking their children away and fabricating a war between themselves. The government is so evil that they take people’s children away during the collections and mutilate children, in a messed up experiment to combine human with machine. With Cat’s dad as the government figurehead, he’s pretty much evil by association, even though we don’t find out why she hates him so much until later in the book.

You say enough to prove that you’re never going to trust me. I don’t know why I bother any more. I’m just as capable as you, girl or not. – Cat

What really threw me off however, was the middle grade style of writing throughout. The book is very focused on the adventure, as Cat and the crew break into top secret government facilities including a ship. The writing along with Cat’s feminist behaviour throughout the book kind of makes me think this book might be more for children, until you encounter the darker parts of the book with gore, blood and mutilation.

I have to really commend the author for writing this book while she was 16, which is an impressive feat for any author.

I really wanted to like this book but unfortunately, the annoying characters, the incessant government blame, the inconsistent writing and Cat’s repetitive message throughout was too much for me. Take Back the Skies is enjoyable if you like an action adventure, but be prepared to encounter an ending which will pretty much wipe out everything Cat’s character stood for, and deem the whole book as pointless.
Profile Image for Figgy.
678 reviews219 followers
Shelved as 'pending'
August 8, 2017
I'm sorry, I'm just not feeling this at all. Back on hold it goes.

The character is MILES ABOVE THE GROUND IN A SKY SHIP, and yet I am bored. I feel no emotions for anything in this book, and I have completely run out of fucks to give for now.
Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,059 reviews16 followers
June 14, 2014
To see full review click on one of the following links:

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This book should’ve never been published.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Lucy Saxon (that has to be a pen-name) is very talented for her age, but she’s not ready for pub time (yet).

Though to her credit, she’s a bit more ready than Alexandra Adornetto. But that’s really not a comment if you think about just how bad Halo was.

The premises of Take Back the Skies has a lot going for it.

I always do love the gender bending trope. And skyships. Skyships sound interesting. As well as revolutionary bad ass girl main characters. The thing is, Take Back the Skies ended up being sort of a flop. On a lot of levels. A part of me wants to blame Saxon’s age for these faux pas (after all, she was only sixteen when she wrote this book), but at the same time I’ve seen these same mistakes in author’s who are decades older. So,since I’m in a generous mood (not really, I’ve just finally got used to not having coffee in the morning) I’m going to do the Master’s Wife a favor and dissect what’s wrong with this book.

1) Use your tropes effectively: I love the whole gender bending trope. But it was over before it even begun. I think the reason I love this trope so much is when used effectively it can show that a relationship is NOT shallow. And God knows, how many YA relationships are shallow. With a gender bending relationship, we actually get the benefit of having non-romantic feelings develop between the characters first. Which is nice for a change. Also, the reveal scenes can be hilarious if done correctly. However, in Saxon’s case I think the reveal was a bit of a bore. Or if I’m going to be more critical it made Fox look like an ass. I mean, look at some of the things he said to Cat (see below quote). And speaking of Cat, I didn’t know it was a unisexual name.

“And regardless of whether I trust you or not, you’ve got guts….for a girl.” (115)

2) Pacing: Oh, Ms. Saxon, I think this is your biggest issue. Pacing. This book was horridly paced. I appreciated that this is a standalone (or though I appreciated, since it turns out that there are going to be sequels), but come on. All these problems couldn’t be resolved within the span of time you gave them (half a page). I liked the plot you had, it really interested me. But with everything being so quickly resolved my eyes almost popped out from all the rolling they were doing.

3) Your Romantic Lead: I have a feeling that there will be some Fox fans. But I have to say, he just didn’t do it for me. And while I liked some aspects of the character all I have to say is… What a sexist jerk. While Saxton did attempt to do some banter between the two characters, the banter was mostly Fox saying something sexist/Cat attempting to reason with him/and it ends with her walking away in a huff. Which just left me…well, annoyed.
Profile Image for Chelsea Herondale.
135 reviews26 followers
June 5, 2014
Take back the skies by Lucy Saxon

Take back the skies takes place in a future world where the royal family disappeared and the government took control. Catherine Hunter is the daughter to a very important government man. She is privileged, has nice clothes and is safe. Catherine however, is not happy and escapes before her dad can marry her off to a government brat. Catherine becomes Cat and the story follows her journey as she learns that not everything is how it seems.

This book had a really strong plot that was obviously thought out very well. So much was happening but it was not at all confusing because the world-building was spectacular and I could picture it all so well. I was really happy with how the characters were described and I have reasonably clear mental image of all the characters. 

Another part of this book that I really enjoyed was that each character had their own personality and they were all so different but they worked really well together. Cat, the main character, was an awesome character and her escape proves that she is brave enough to stand up to her father. Fox's character was amazing and his backstory was interesting and mysterious. Some characters, like Ben who I liked at the start but didn't love, really grew on me as they started to become more involved with the story. 

One thing I didn't like so much was that Cat was quite mean to James (another character). I also thought that some parts in the plot to do with the government were slightly unbelievable and I can't imagine anyone getting away with what happened.

The plot twist at the end of the book was so sad but it was an awesome addition to the surprising plot. The ending was also touching, I loved it and thought it was an excellent resolution to the book.
Overall, this book was great and I really enjoyed it, I am looking forward to the sequel. Any book that leaves the reader hanging has got to be great. 
Profile Image for Jaz.
570 reviews178 followers
October 13, 2016
Firstly, thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for this ARC.

Review originally posted at Fiction in Fiction in Fiction

I would like to point out that I really admire Lucy Saxon for writing a book at such a young age. She’s got a lot of potential and talent. To get a book published at only 19 is a wonderful achievement and I commend her on that.

When I received Take Back the Skies at the beginning of March I actually wasn’t planning on reading it. However, as the release day draws closer the hype kept building and I thought, well maybe I should check it out. In a way I’m glad I did because I can see Saxon’s potential and how, with work, this could really get better with a couple more books.

The synopsis of this book implies that the protagonist Catherine escapes her stifling and privileged life by stowing away on an airship and having a wonderful adventure on board it. This was not the case. I was imagining something along the lines of Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, or Final Fantasy X/Final Fantasy X-2/Final Fantasy XII and Howl’s Moving Castle. In fact, there is only one short journey on the airship and that’s it. The majority of the book is dealing with a government conspiracy and occurs on land.

Catherine Hunter is born into a privileged life as she’s the daughter of a government official. However, she despises the opulence she’s given and longs to get away. At only 14 I found this extremely implausible as her sympathising with the poor was just going a bit too far. I understood that her sneaking out at night to admire the airships allowed her to see the poverty of those around her but she wasn’t ever grateful for what was given to her. I really didn’t understand her hate towards her father – it wasn’t the familial hate we see in abusive parents where the child still feels an obligation to the parent. No, this was outright hate like she was a stranger without familial ties. I could understand that if she didn’t live with her father and distance made the relationship detached but she actually lived with him! And other than being overly strict, I couldn’t see what Nathaniel Hunter ever really did to her to warrant such loathing. Cat’s spirit is definitely admirable but her ambitious nature was not relatable at all. At 14 she thinks that she can change the world – that it’s easy. We all know this is not true but Saxon writes it as if it is so.

“How she wished to fly a skyship: the freedom, the boundless space, with no expectations from anyone but herself and her crew.”

The secondary characters were either all too nice or all too horrible in nature. There was this distinct black and white which I thought made the book even more naïve. I like books that have lots of grey space because it makes me question what’s right and wrong – that a lot of the time there is no right or wrong because that is humanity. Take Back the Skies was just too easy – these are the good guys and these are the bad guys. The crew on the airship were meant to have distinct personalities and I could see Saxon try to bring that through but why were they all so bloody nice? And the bad guys were oh so evil. Basically everyone was divided into these two groups and because of that I found absolutely no depth to anyone.

Of course there had to be a love interest and the romance could have been likable. Fox was the only ‘good’ guy that didn’t seem like he was under Cat’s spell. Or so we think. He was just hot and cold all the time without reasoning – I’m sure it was meant to show he was affected by Cat but I just couldn’t understand his vehemence towards her sometimes. He would get so worked about the littlest things or nothing at all. And then our little Cat, who seems so strong gets all flustered when he’s around. I couldn’t tell if it was insta-attraction for her or insta-love but it was borderline insta-love because by the time I stopped reading at page 225, they’d only known each other ONE WEEK. At four days of their knowing each other Cat herself had said something along the lines of “don’t you know me at all by now?” and how she couldn’t believe Fox didn’t trust her. Four days kid. YOU’VE KNOWN HIM FOUR DAYS. Basically everybody I’ve known my whole life I don’t trust. Trust is a hard thing to come by. So no. This just did not work.

“I don’t know you!”

“Believe what you’ve learned since you met me… Just trust me.”

I was expecting fantastic world-building because this is technically a steampunk. Sadly this failed in every respect. I wanted fantastic descriptions of the world as they flew to Siberene – I was expecting beautiful landscapes with intricate, picturesque descriptions of the palette of the islands and the sea. All I got was that the sky is apparently pretty and that there were large mountains. No showing, just telling. I wanted to hear more about these freaky storm barriers that the ship had to fly through. I was told this and then it was completely skipped over – I was waiting for the airship to be thrown about, for fierce winds and rain pelting the potholes. Nope. There is actually barely any flying in this at all which really disappointed me. Cat’s stowing away on the Stormdancer is just a trip to Siberene and back to Anglya which spans only a few chapters.

“Clouds drifted lazily above them, the endless blue-grey sea churned far below them…”

The plot was so darn convenient. Cat says let’s save the world and bring the revolution. Whole crew is suddenly on board with a 14 year-old’s plan. What about the consequences of this – who will rule the country? Basically, everything just resolves itself and I hated the convenience of everything. Cat gets into trouble, Fox saves the day. Cat sneaks around, doesn’t seem to ever get caught. Miraculously find out the plot twist by killing two birds with one stone and everything is just THERE all in one place. The writing itself was of the fantasy style – seemingly sophisticated and less colloquial but somehow it was so cliché it read like a children’s book.

“Cat’s right; we’ve been letting it lie for far too long now. The government seems to be escalating their plans, and who knows what their next step is.”

I just couldn’t deal with this book. The characters lacked depth, there was no world building, the plot was too convenient and the writing plain cringe-worthy. I have heard some people loved this so I guess it’s one of those hit or miss things. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did.
Profile Image for Brea Johnson.
78 reviews74 followers
May 26, 2014
I have to come right out and say it, I was fairly disappointed in this book. It had all the promise and possibilities of something amazing and it didn’t deliver. I was captured at the beginning. It had such an interesting world to play with, with a spirited MC. But from halfway I just kept facing issues and problems that got in the way of my enjoyment.

(SIDE) This story is more suitable for the younger side of YA. I didn’t have a problem with this, I quite like that younger, childish adventure story. But for those who mind, I recommend it for early teens.

I liked the characters in Take Back the Skies. They were perfect for a story like this; loveable, easy to picture. Sometimes a little too perfect, but otherwise I still liked them. I could really connect with our MC, Cat. She was so spirited and full of life, dreams and opinions. I really enjoyed reading about her!

Sadly, Take Back the Skies suffer’s from some insta love. At first, it was just a cute little crush. But then it blew out of proportion by being full on, devoted, never going to love another, kind of love. Plus, there was a love triangle, but it wasn’t too unbearable.

I noticed a fair few cliché’s in this book that didn’t really need to be there. Actually, they were all over the place. It also started to become a little too convenient, a bit wishful. This starts to take away the adventure, adrenalin feeling for me.

I also couldn’t help but see the plot holes. It’s like the analytical side of me picks these out like I do with olives on pizza. There were quite a few things that just didn’t connect or match up. There was also a part in the book where a lot of careful, thought out plans had to be made. But really, these plans were half made and severely holed. There was a lot of relying on conveniences to pass.

There was also a bit too much “good” vs “bad”. Even though that is expected in a book like this, I’ve begun to have an appreciation for things not being as they seem, for the line between good and bad to be blurred. It would have been good to see a little complexity in Take Back the Skies.

Now the ending.

The ending did not sit well with me. Not only was it flat (I did cry though) but it was slightly awkward. Moving on to the epilogue, I was so so so disappointed. Set two years into the future, Cat is an entirely different person, clashing with all of her beliefs and morals from the girl we had 300 + pages to get to know. This led to an immediate disconnection from Cat. She went from being this spirited, ballsy girl to a complete stranger. I get what the author was trying to say from this, but I personally think Cat should have kept to her guns. It made her different, made us like her, she’s had numerous arguments about her beliefs, and for her just to give in? Nope. There was nothing that made me think it had to happen. I was gutted by this end and not impressed.

This book had such a good concept, great idea’s, characters and settings. But I couldn’t sit back and enjoy it. I kept picking at plot holes and rolling my eyes at the cliché’s. I was appreciating the cute, slow romance until it got out of hand. I was loving Cat, this strong awesome girl, until she was ruined by the end with no justification good enough for her change of character. This book wasn't for me.

You can see this review and more at Breezy Reads
Profile Image for Ash ♡.
126 reviews22 followers
October 13, 2015
took way too long to read this book... also disappointing ending
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,652 followers
June 29, 2014
Actual Rating: 2.5 stars

After Blythe (Finding Bliss in Books) pitched Take Back the Skies to me as sort of She’s the Man meets Firefly, obviously I HAD to have it. What’s funny is Blythe thought I wouldn’t like the romance but would enjoy everything else, but my issues were more with the writing than the romance. I did find Take Back the Skies engaging and a pleasantly quick read, but I also think it would have benefited from different marketing and some serious tightening of the writing. Saxon’s debut has a lot of promise, but I think it will work better for middle grade audiences than YA as it has been marketed.

Read the full review at A Reader of Fictions.
Profile Image for Braiden.
359 reviews205 followers
May 11, 2014
I began this on the plane to LA - took too long in the beginning so I wasn't enjoying it. Got about halfway and I fell asleep. And then I needed to offload something from my bag so I left the proof on a terminal chair at LAX.

To be frank, I do not believe this book is ready to be published. More polishing, an increase in the main character's age, and a somewhat more mature writing style would have me more interested, but unfortunately it wasn't the case.

At least someone at LAX may have picked it up? Perhaps a cleaner?
Profile Image for Chiara.
870 reviews220 followers
March 21, 2016
A copy of this novel was provided by Bloomsbury Australia in exchange an honest review.

Oh, boy. I’m going to write this review on a kind of timeline, because I think that would best describe my feelings and how they changed throughout the course of this novel.

I received this book from the lovely people at Bloomsbury. I hadn’t heard of it, but as soon as I read the blurb, I was keen. I love steampunk and I love fantasy, and the author was a teenager (which is awesome).

Then I started to see some reviews … some not-so-great reviews. I generally don’t let reviews sway me. I mean, a lot of the time my opinion of a book is different from most everybody else. So I don’t take too much notice of a review, if I am intending to read a novel anyway.

And then I started Take Back the Skies. I liked it. I thought the main character was sassy and cute, I liked the world, and I liked the inclusion of the airships and the Collection and all those other world-building-esque type things.

The writing style was simplistic, but it almost felt like it was singing a lullaby to me as I read. In the best way possible. It was like sliding into a warm bath whenever I started reading. It was effortless to immerse myself in the story and the character arcs. I was actually kind of in love with it.

There were a few too many perfect ties. And by that I mean too many problems were tied up easily and perfectly. I don’t think every problem needs an easy solution, and they certainly don’t have them every single time. I would have liked some conflict around the problems, some actions that weren’t straightforward and weren’t easy for everyone to agree with. Problems are just that – problems, and they can last a very long time, and they can’t always be solved with one action.

The romance was quite cute, and a little predictable. There was the original conflict regarding truth and lies, the witty and snarky banter, and then the inevitable culmination of the romance and feelings the two characters had for one another. This culmination was kind of a bit odd (SPOILER: it happens with a dead body RIGHT NEXT TO THEM. END SPOILER), so I wasn’t really into it. I also felt like after this admission + kiss, their relationship moved a little too quickly. It takes time to be relaxed and confident enough to steal kisses from someone on a frequent basis, and there wasn’t any of this time. The two characters just slid into numerous PDAs almost immediately.

Regardless of some problems, I was readying myself to rate Take Back the Skies three and a half balloons. I liked the writing style, the story was pretty cool, and I knew I’d read the next book in the series.

These thoughts kind of hit the fan when the last few chapters came (and the epilogue). This event happens and the main character’s (Cat’s) reaction was completely unbelievable. And then another character comes in and says some incredibly insensitive things (considering what had just occurred), and I was left thinking: what the heck just happened? I was actually laughing, and unfortunately it was not a laughing matter (or at least, it wasn’t supposed to be). I couldn’t believe that I had spent the better part of 350 pages getting to know a character and their story and shipping them and looking forward to a future for them, only to have that thrown in my face. I just couldn’t believe it, and I couldn’t forgive it, either.

The epilogue was not enjoyable. Cat had done almost a complete 180 in terms of her character and the things she believed in … and I just felt very unimpressed by the whole thing.

Due to the ending, this book was therefore rated two and a half balloons. The ending was simply not okay, in so many ways. It also makes me wonder how there is going to be a sequel, because of the perfect bows I mentioned before, and also the epilogue. I’ll probably read it, simply to see where the author takes the story.

© 2014, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.
Profile Image for Adam Webling.
103 reviews21 followers
October 4, 2016
Rating: 3.5

Robots, airships and a corrupt government. Lucy Saxon’s debut sci-fi novel packs in a lot of adventure, mystery and dark mechanics.

So, as you’ve probably already guessed, Take Back The Skies has a cool concept. In a dystopian world where ‘collection days’ taken teenagers away from their families to fight in a war, Catherine Hunter runs away from her awful (and I mean awful) father and escapes her city on an airship. Here she meets a crew that become her new family, including Fox, a boy she can’t help butting heads with…or thinking about.

The airships used to fly between countries in this robot-filled world are really cool and it’s here that Cat realises things back home aren’t quite what they seem. This leads to an action-packed rescue/gather-corruption-evidence mission, filled with sneaking around (which I love in books) and an unravelling mystery that is pretty dark in a ‘I have to read on’ way.

The tone of the book didn’t quite match the darkness of the plot though, and left me feeling like Cat found some things too matter of fact or got over them quicker than expected. But other than that, Cat is a strong heroine you can easily identify with. Saxon also uses Cat to frequently fight female ‘damsel in distress’ stereotypes, which I loved - along with class stereotypes explored throughout the plot.

Without spoilers, there’s a death near the end that sucked, BUT I liked that Saxon went where a lot of YA authors wouldn’t - it was refreshing (after the ‘did that just happen??’)
Profile Image for Jo.
1,121 reviews60 followers
May 30, 2014
I found some of the characters and motivations to be simply implausible. You have a band of smugglers who are doing nothing to find the missing children, and all of the sudden just because a stowaway that they have known for less than a month says they need to go on a mission, they agree to her plan? Also, two bad guys met the same end in the exact same way. I really feel that this could have been a great read had there been more sculpting involved in the editorial process. The writing was good, and the plot was solid - it just needed more tweaking.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews546 followers
December 22, 2014
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Though there were plenty of flaws, I found this novel enjoyable all the same.

Opening Sentence: Rain fell lazily from charcoal-coloured clouds as Catherine Hunter sprinted through darkening streets, her long hair tied in a tight braid and tucked beneath a black knit cap.

The Review:

Catherine is a privileged girl with a government father. She has managed to escape the Collections in her social status, the days that children are stolen away from their families and forced to fight a war. But she doesn’t want to be married for status to some spoiled brat, so she runs from her greedy father and his money to live a life that is not as extravagant, but so much more satisfying. She stows away on a skyship and meets the crew, along with a handsome man named Fox, and begins to realize exactly how much the government has been hiding. And it’s not pretty.

Take Back the Skies was written by a teenager! How cool is that? Being young myself I found that a huge inspiration that publishers would even consider one of such an age. Immediately, this sparked my interest as I traveled into the world that Saxon created. (Oh. And by the way, Lucy Saxon is clearly a pseudonym — I mean, Doctor Who!) I have to say that though I did enjoy my time with the book, I did have problems with both the characters and the way the novel was resolved. I came into the book excited to read something by an eighteen year old, but somewhat wary: not many reviews had been positive and many people had remarked that it wasn’t very interesting to them. With that wariness, my expectations were somewhat lowered, and I ended up having a suffiecient reading experience. That’s probably why I had an easier time with it than others.

The main character, Cat, is much younger than characters I usually deal with. She’s 14, closer to a child than an adult. That being said, I felt that her reactions and bravery were somewhat exaggerated. She’s 14, shouldn’t she be more scared? I wish there had been more of a mention of her shaking, or her palms sweating, or any doubt, but instead she always squares her shoulders after even a second of being frightened. Boom, then she’s fine. Other than that I enjoyed her somewhat spitfire personality and wit. Also, her point of view (and just the writing overall) was very simplistic. If she was excited, than “Cat felt excited”. There was much more telling of emotions than illustrating, if that makes sense.

The love interest had to be one of the more major problems for me, however. Fox and Cat fought more than they talked. Literally, every few pages, Fox would have a sudden mood shift and be spiteful and rude. Not that Cat responded any better. They never held back any hateful, rude thing they could possibly say. If it could be any worse, there was a clear case of insta-love. Those who read my reviews know that I am not a fan of this. As soon as she saw him she couldn’t keep her eyes off him, because he’s apparently soo handsome and intriguing and wow! Once they got together, they could not keep their hands off one another, even in the presence of others, and the fighting suddenly ceased. I’ll admit, I did start to enjoy Fox when he got nicer, but there wasn’t much development on his character, nor Cat’s.

Take Back the Skies, no matter my nitpicking, was an okay read. It was intriguing enough for me to enjoy it. I did end up liking Cat and probably my favorite aspect of the story were the side characters. The world building was rich, if not a little sloppy, and it was refreshing reading a novel that was wrapped up in one book. There were quite a few large twists, but only two that I didn’t see coming. The rest were pretty predictable. As for the ending, I have to say it was unexpected, and haven’t processed it enough to have a large opinion. I loved hearing about the skyships and how there was the storms that were perpetually there, and the lands that resided in the strange world. One thing I can say in this story is that there was lots of action, so it wasn’t a slow read! I will encourage lovers of science fiction who don’t mind a simple writing style or annoying love interests to read this story, as it wasn’t really that bad.

Notable Scene:

She looked around the room for an even smaller place to hide and pulled open the doors of a large oak wardrobe that was bolted to the wall and floor.Heart racing, she pushed aside a pile of clothes at the base of the wardrobe, squeezing herself right into the corner. Covering herself with a long wool coat, she hoped she looked like just another pile of clothes. Catherine laughed shakily to herself. She wrapped her arms around her legs, then leant her chin on her knees. All she could do now was wait.

FTC Advisory: Bloomsbury USA Children’s provided me with a copy of Take Back the Skies. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Kate.
815 reviews32 followers
August 12, 2016
Catherine Hunter has lived her life in luxury. Fine clothes, exotic cuisine and the best of what life has to offer. But when her father promises her hand in marriage to the son of a business colleague, the fifteen-year-old decides it is time to take matters into her own hands. No more being the trophy daughter of her government official father – Catherine would rather be homeless and free rather than the privileged daughter living in gilded cage.

And so Catherine Hunter becomes Cat, a homeless boy who stows away aboard a starship in attempt to flee Anglya and leave all means behind. But life as Cat brings its own set of complications. Pretending to be a boy is more difficult than Cat envisioned and the hold of those who run Anglya reach far beyond the borders.

This book has a lot of promise. The idea of a privileged girl being the one to lead a rebellion using inside knowledge is different from most of the dystopian novels I’ve read of late. And I liked the idea of the storms which fill the skies and the world in which this novel was set. However this book just fell a little short for me.

Cat was a hard character for me to like. I didn’t feel any sort of connection to her and despite all she goes though – it all felt a little easy. From the moment she ditches her father to being a homeless boy and then becoming a full-fledged member of the Stormdancer crew it only took around ten pages. There needed to be more struggle. More moments where there was some uncertainty as to whether she would be able to overcome whatever was holding her down at the time. But throughout the novel, every thing comes so easily and there is no obstacle which isn’t overcome within the space of a few pages. Cat is also rather judgemental yet defensive. She is fairly demanding with an air of entitlement. Even when she is begging for forgiveness, she orders others around in the same breath. It just made her unlikable. Even when trying to understand the difficulties she must be going through she made it so hard to be on her side.

As for the romance? I wanted to like Cat and Fox as a couple. How adorable as their names together?! But despite knowing that these two were going to be each other’s main romantic interest, I felt zero chemistry between them. Ben and Matt had more tension between them than Cat and Fox. I’m not saying romance needed to be the focus but I wanted something more than Cat’s frequent blushing and constant arguing to show some kind of relationship between the two.

I wanted more from Take Back the Skies. More about the different world in which the characters live. More struggles for the characters and suspense over what will happen to them. More romance between the leads. I loved the idea of the storms defending borders but thought that idea could have been explored more. The characters were a little simplistic and shallow but had potential to be more interesting. I felt this book told me more than it showed me and by that I mean instead of getting to choose how I felt about things and people, I was told in black and white. I wanted to be able to form my own opinions from memories and actions rather than being explicitly told. For me this is a book which conceptually has it yet fell below my expectations with regards to execution.

The ending threw a bit of a curve ball and whilst I’m curious as to where this series is going to go next, I don’t think I’ll be continuing. This isn’t a bad book it just didn’t deliver the story I was hoping it would. As a young author, Lucy Saxon has a lot of promise and is one I’ll be on the look out for in the future.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for the review copy.
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
November 21, 2014
3.5 Stars
After seeing the early reviews, I was skeptical whether I would enjoy Take Back the Skies, but I really enjoyed it. It was a fusion of dystopian, science fiction and romance, and apart from the appearance of of the Skyships, I was wondering where the steam punk aspect was. The storyline is seen through the eyes of Catherine, who takes on the new persona of Cat when she leaves home for a life on the run. Born in an era where women are obedient and the government feed propaganda into the homes of it's citizens, Cat is a renegade. Although she begins as a miniature freedom fighter, sadly she morphs into a girl who had the potential to battle her father, but seemingly backed away. She occasionally allows her thoughts to wander to that of her terminally ill mother, but Cat seems to have little or no attachment to the life she has only just escaped, but rather cares more for the robotic servant that became her carer and only friend.

I found the storyline entertaining, but it's not without it's flaws. I found Cat's age hard to connect with, as she felt like a much older character than fourteen years old. Cat's character would have benefited from being depicted as a sixteen year old girl or Take Back the Skies marketed as a mature Middle Grade release. Being almost fifteen just wasn't believable. The other issue I had was the cast of main characters being underdeveloped. Having left her own mother, Alice being the only other female in Cat's life, there was little information provided about her, other than the fact that she is the designated carer and spends all her time in the kitchen. Cat, who begun as feisty, sassy and seemingly ready to push the role that females played within their world, became soft and sulky far too often and gone was the girl ready to rebel.

Fox played the role of the chauvinist and occasionally arrogant teen. He was Cat's love interest, which didn't match up with here mere fourteen years of age, with him being seventeen. But when the dreaded love triangle comes to light, that's when the romantic aspect just became awkward. A third party enters the picture, and instantly wants Cat for himself. She's fourteen, not Sofia Vergara. Awkward.

But the author was only sixteen when penning Take Back the Skies. Despite it's flaws, which almost every book has, it was superbly entertaining. I rate books on how much I enjoyed them, and this was a four star read for me in terms of entertainment value. But the epilogue fell completely flat. This book has the potential to be a phenomenal read, the world created was brilliant, but needs a bit more depth. I loved the simplistic style of writing though, it was easy to read and put down to come back to later, but didn't fully draw me in. Young teens will adore this though.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,001 reviews369 followers
May 24, 2014
This is one of those stories that has so much potential and so much promise. One where the world is just as much fascinating as it is confusing.

It is steampunk and fantasy and almost dystopian with an old world/modern feel to it all rolled into one. Almost as if the author liked them all and just couldn't quite decide which genre to write in.

The world was fascinating where the rich are highly separated from the poor and underprivileged. Where ships sail the sky and droids serve households. Yet we can't help but feel this is set in a time long ago and we still get that steampunkish feel with automatons and crazy mechanical inventions around every corner.

We know the world has suffered because of a war, where the youth are being stolen from their homes all in the name of the government and peace. We can feel the desolation and heartbreak of it's people as their youth are lost to them forever. What we don't realize until later on is that something so much more sinister than we ever could imagine is really happening to the world that Cat is a part of, something that hits close to home.

I admit, this book had me pretty interested. It was fast paced and filled with wonder and adventure. Even though the world Cat lived in was never really explained or defined I still found myself okay with it because I wanted to learn more about it and it's people.

What had me a little lost and confused was the ending. I couldn't fathom why it ended the way it did, with so little explained of the after effects of Cat and Fox' adventure. It seemed rushed and hurried like it just needed to be over and done with and that left me feeling like I had missed something, something crucial, something important to the story.

Lets talk about that ending. I loved this read up until that ending. It fell so flat for me. It was so sad, so hopeless feeling. I couldn't help but be disappointed with it. It changed the whole way I felt about that book. I realize there will be a sequel, which is a good thing but I have no idea where the author will take it. The ending was pretty bleak and not open so much as just depressing. I felt like she settled for less than she wanted, less than she needed.

I think if this does turn into a series, it has hope, it has potential as does the author's writing because this really did have the potential to be something great but sadly, in the end, it fell a little flat for me. I loved this until that ending, it was so...sad and just changed the whole theme of the story for me. I am hoping book two will be way better.
Profile Image for Nara.
937 reviews124 followers
January 12, 2015
*stares at the title*
*thinks for a while*
*looks at the title again*
*thinks some more*
Nope. I still don't get it. I don't understand why the book is called Take Back the Skies. Did the characters fly around in the Stormdancer and try and "take back" the territory of the sky from some sort of enemy? Not really. I do believe most of the action side of things were done on land. Except one battle at the end. Which was still not a "taking back" of the skies. Eh, let's just move on.

The world building wasn't that great, but that might be more of a reflection of the type of world building that I personally like- which is as much information as possible. Actually, taking into account the fact that this book seems targeted at the younger YA age range, I think the world building is probably acceptable. I'm probs just being a bit harsh here haha.

The romance was relatively well done on the whole, although there were some moments where it swerved dangerously into instalove territory. Ditto the "love triangle". Our love interest is the roguish redhead, Fox, who perhaps doesn't have the most creative of names, but is still an intriguing character. Although all he and Cat seem to do half the book is argue, I think by the end of the book, their relationship is actually quite a solid one. On the other hand, the other side of the love triangle, James, was ridiculous. He literally sees Cat for the first time in at least 10 years and suddenly feels like he's in love with her. And feels jealous when he sees her with Fox. Um, whut.

There were many twists and turns in the plot- some of which were quite unexpected. In particular, I'm thinking of the ending. The ending is incredibly daring for a debut author. Of all the things I would expect to happen, especially considering this book is the first in a series, just...wow. Definitely quite ambitious. And rather unprecedented, methinks.

Lucy Saxon is most definitely an author to look out for. I expect to see great things from her in the future.

p.s. this book was apparently written by Saxon at the age of 16. WHAT EVEN.

Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 2.5/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Cover: 3.5/5
Profile Image for Misty.
300 reviews67 followers
June 9, 2014
I was so excited to read Take back the skies so its extra saddening that I was disappointed by this book. It really was the story that saved it for me, had the book gone through a couple more rounds of edits to better polish up the writing, it could have been a brilliant novel. But unfortunately it came off glaringly obvious that this was someone's first attempt at writing a book, all the characters spoke exactly the same and overuse of the words 'murmured' and 'queried' drove me to insanity, sometimes its okay to just use 'said' or 'asked'. There was also a pretty lacklustre love story, I couldn't buy the whole hot and cold angle the author was trying to work because most of their exchanges were the same argument, they hardly actually talked and got to know each other so it was particularly hard to swallow when, after only knowing him for about two weeks, Cat quite literally described Fox as the love of her life, she barely even knew him.
So many times I came close to abandoning this book but at the same time I was compelled with a need to find out what the hell was going on and see what was going to happen next because writing aside, the author came up with a damn good plot, honestly I in no way guessed what was really happening and was just as shocked as Cat when we found out and the ending was another shock too. Although things often seemed to be a bit too easy or coincidental for our little gang, I did enjoy watching them try to uncover and end a government conspiracy, they were good people with their hearts in the right places and I liked them all a lot. Boy drama aside, Cat is one tough girl with a lot of bravery.
So despite my disappointment I came away intrigued enough to carry on reading the series with the hope that the authors writing will mature with more practice. I'm interested to see more of the world that Lucy Saxon has created as I feel we've only scratched the surface on all the places in Tellus.
Profile Image for Keeley .
510 reviews12 followers
August 17, 2014
I really enjoyed this novel and felt anxious the entire time I was reading it because I had to know what would happen next.

Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a very important member of the Anglyan government. She has lived a life of luxury and has never wanted for anything. Her father however, is not a nice man by any means. He married her mother only to inherit her families fortune and once her mother began to get sick, rumors spread of her fathers infidelity. Now Cat is to be married to the son of another member of government who she despises. Cat has always dreamed of running away, and after talking to her mother about her future she made the decision to finally do it.

Stowing away on a ship called the Skydancer, Cat pretends to be a boy and works as a mechanic in training with Fox and Matt. Spending more and more time with Fox she begins to develop feelings for him.

As a family member of a government official, Cat has been able to avoid the Collections that have been taking the city's children for years. A war has been raging between Anglya and other nations and the story is that the children taken for Collections are trained to be soldiers and sent off to war. Cat finds out soon that this is not the case and she has been lied to her entire life. The war ended seven years ago, but the Collections are still occurring. As a new member of the Skydancer, Cat and the rest of the crew vow to uncover the Anglyan government's secrets and rescue the children taken during the Collections.

This was a great read for summer. It kept me guessing for almost the entire novel and I felt compelled to read it quickly to figure out what would happen next to Cat and the rest of the people in Anglya. An awesome debut novel from this author and this is listed on Goodreads as book one which I'm hoping means that there are plenty more to come!

Profile Image for Becca.
105 reviews
July 26, 2016
I requested this from NetGalley because it sounded interesting and the author is only 18, and once I started reading, I found it hard to stop. Cat is an instantly relatable heroine, and although the story follows the classic plot of a rich girl running away to sea (or in this case, sky) dressed as a boy, the steampunk world that Lucy Saxon creates makes it fun and fresh.

Her world-building is great – you can really feel the streets of Anglya and the skyship Stormdancer, where you quickly get to know the crew. Fox, the red-headed love interest, is particularly swoonworthy, and I loved the tension between him and Cat. The pace is fast and the ending managed to completely shock me - I want to know what happens to Cat next! I believe this is part of a series set in the world, Tellus, she has created, so I’m not sure if Cat will reappear or not, but either way I’m looking forward to reading more from Saxon and keen to see how she develops and grows as an author.
Profile Image for H Freeman.
172 reviews
August 23, 2014
Received an ARC of this book from the publishing house for review and possible purchase.
***possible spoiler alerts***
It seems like this one had all the right ideas, but the story itself fell flat. First off the book is labeled as a YA romance. This is a little disconcerting considering the heroine is only 14 years old-turning 15 towards the end. Not to spoil this one straight out, but there are things that occur that are WAY above Cat's pay-grade and I was left thinking:

The elements in the book are too old for the MC. It's actually a little creepy in places. I don't know if that's how they do it in the UK, but here in America 15 year olds getting married is typically frowned upon.
Just stop-

All in all-the book was a flop. Will not purchase.
Profile Image for Aubrey.
501 reviews20 followers
August 8, 2017
Cat is such a strong main character, and I really loved reading her story. She runs away from home; she escapes from her abusive father and sick mother. She doesn’t want to leave her mom, but her mom tells her to run fast and far. So she does. She finds a new life and pretends to be a boy for a while so she’s not underestimated. Gosh she’s so cool. Then there’s Fox...
Read more here!
Aubrey Joy
Profile Image for Anya.
763 reviews168 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
December 19, 2014
I stopped at page 90. After Cat miraculously learning to pick pocket, fighting off two guards and outrunning them, I can tell this one isn't for me. There is a lot of awkward dialogue to fit in explanations for the reader and of course Cat is already swooning for the boy. The world sounded cool, but I haven't learned enough about it to want to continue.
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