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The Ryogan Chronicles #1

Island of Exiles

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In this diverse, gritty survival fantasy, a girl warrior turns against her island clan to find the brother they claim died, uncovering secrets. Perfect for fans of Graceling and Snow Like Ashes.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya's home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she's never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.

400 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 14, 2017

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About the author

Erica Cameron

15 books200 followers
After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years studying psychology and creative writing, basically getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Now, she’s the author of several series for young adults. She’s also a reader, asexuality advocate, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse who loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.

Her debut novel, Sing Sweet Nightingale, released March 2014 and it was the first volume of The Dream War Saga. In May 2015, Erica and her co-author Lani Woodland launched the Laguna Tides series with Taken by Chance. Riptide’s YA imprint Triton Books began the Assassins series with Discord in September 2016. The Ryogan Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy through Entangled Teen, launched in 2017 with Island of Exiles. Next up, Erica will be working with Entangled Teen to create a young adult science fiction trilogy pitched as Star Trek: Voyager meets The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica; Pax Novis is set to fly in 2018.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 87 reviews
Profile Image for Jen ♥Star-Crossed Book Blog♥.
496 reviews301 followers
December 7, 2017
Island of Exiles was one the most unique books I've ever read. The world that was created was fascinating, and I've never encountered one even close to how it was described. On top of that, the characters that appeared on the pages were larger than life. And the way the plot unfolded was completely entertaining. Island of Exiles was beyond original. So I wish there wasn't a but, but there is. I never fully connected to any of the characters. And on top of that, the names that were created for ranks, magic and basic terms in their world was beyond confusing and wouldn't stick with me.
What is pain when death bites at our heels?

In the first chapter alone, you get a good grasp on the harsh lifestyle and what it's like to live on the isolated island of Shiara. Each day is a fight to survive. It's completely brutal. From the terrifying creatures, to the intense terrain, to the unforgiving weather, they are constantly under attack. Khya, our heroine, is a trained warrior. She scouts, fights and protects those in her group and her Clan. She is the definition of kick ass! But at the same time, it's easy to understand that Khya was raised to put the Clan before herself. The needs and safety of the clan will always be more important than just one person.
“Where’d you learn to fight like that?” It really is galling to know that Tessen was right about Yorri, but my pride in my brother is enough to trump even that.
My brother smirks. “Where do you think? From watching you.”

Well, that is until something happens to her brother, Yorri. She loves him more than life itself, and finds herself on a different path because of her brother. On her journey, her world gets flipped upside down. Not only in regards to what she knew, but also for who she can and can't trust. One of my favorite people that kept appearing in her life was Terren. He would never go away, no matter how much Khya wished it lol. I quickly formed an opinion on him, and I loved every single time he graced the pages with his presence. The moments they were together were so much fun!
I don’t breathe as Tessen reaches out to brush the tips of his fingers along the line of my jaw, an almost sad smile on his lips. “I see you , Khya. I’ve always seen you. And except for your tendency to pretend that you hate me most days, I like what I see.”

So while this book seemed like a huge win win, I unfortunately struggled. There were so many new terms, and I never could grasp them. Between their ranks, kind of magic and basic world terms, there was 80ish new words to learn. And while that didn't seem like a lot, only a handful stuck with me. On top of that, I struggled keeping track of who was who. Their names were so unique, and even though I made a cheat sheet, they just wouldn't stick.

So I closed the book lost. Because on one hand, I loved the story. It was one the most unique book I've ever encountered, and I was beyond fascinated. I loved how the plot was fast paced and where the twists took the story. But not being able to connect to the characters, and also getting lost in terminology every few paragraphs, definitely pulled me out of the story again and again. So if you're looking for a unique fantasy, then definitely give this one a try. You may adapt easier than I did, and therefore fall head over heels in love with this book. But for me, it just didn't work out in the end, so I unfortunately won't be picking up the sequel.

*ARC kindly provided by Entangled Teen via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

For more of my reviews, please visit:
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Profile Image for Miranda.
729 reviews111 followers
February 10, 2017
Island of Exiles was a gripping, addictive, and captivating book. This book sucked me in from the very first page. Island of Exiles was a book that pulled me in and never let me go! I was pleasantly surprised by this book!

I loved the world the author created, but I did have some issues with wrapping my head around everything. I thought the author did a great job of avoiding info-dumping, but I the world was so unique that there were some aspects that took me a while to completely understand and remember. I had to re-read a lot of parts to try and comprehend the workings of the world. The world and the fantasy elements of it were fascinating, even though I had a hard time understanding all of it.

The main character, Khya, was a badass! She was strong, loyal, cunning, powerful, and so much more. I loved her dedication to keeping her brother safe. It was so sweet to see a strong family bond in this novel. I really admired Khya, and I was rooting for her from the first page of this book.

The romance in this book made my heart skip a beat. I was so invested in the romance Khya found herself in during the book. I SHIP IT SO HARD. The banter between Khya and her love interest was PERFECT. I thought the romance was well paced and I never thought it took away from the main plot of the story. The love interest was snarky and extremely sassy, so I couldn't help but fall in love with him and ship him with Khya! The romantic moments in this book made me swoon, giggle, smile, gasp, and so much more. I was a BIG fan!



*swoons for days*

This book had an addictive quality to it that made it impossible for me to put the book down! There was plenty of action to get my heart racing and plenty romantic moments that almost made my heart explode with joy. The only issue I really had with this book was that I had a hard time fully understanding the world. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book! If you are looking for a unique YA fantasy, then I would recommend check out this book! I am DYING to get my hands on book two!

4 / 5 Fangs

* Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review *

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It
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Profile Image for Madison.
1,063 reviews59 followers
February 5, 2017
Island of Exiles is a rich and epic fantasy, incredibly detailed with superb world building. I am picky about what fantasy novels I read, but this one far surpassed all my expectations and I am now eagerly awaiting book two in the series.

When I was offered a chance to read Island of Exiles I was told it was suited to readers of Graceling and Snow Like Ashes. That's a pretty high standard to reach, but despite that, I was still surprised when this book was actually really very good. It reminded me in parts of Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (one of my absolute favourite fantasy novels) and The Host by Stephanie Meyer (just the parts about a subsistence culture living in a harsh, desert-like surround, with a strong community focus).

Island of Exiles has some intense and well-layered world building. Every little detail is considered, but there are never any information dumps or description-heavy sections. The new vocabulary in this novel is huge. And yet I never found myself confused or lost. There is a glossary at the back, and while I admit that some of the ranks went over my head so too would any military ranks we use in the real world, so I just kept reading, paying attention to each new word, creature or name as it was introduced. The terms give this novel a distinct Eastern feel and yet the setting, culture, language and people of this book are unique. There are also a whole range of magic powers, a third gender and diverse sexual orientations.

Khya is a strong, independent young women. She has the power to create wards to protect both herself and others. She is part of the top class, one of three her clan is divided into, and serves by patrolling, fighting, and protecting her clan and their home. Her focus is also on protecting her younger brother, a bond that many do not understand. She is fierce, powerful, clever, and serious - everything a fantastic fantasy protagonist can be.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the romance. It plays a big part in this novel and yet it really doesn't steal the limelight. Tessen just isn't in any way Khya's focus. He is just there, has been her whole life, stealing promotions from her and basically being annoying. He is a fly at which she swats some times. And he continues to integrate himself into her life. Their relationship develops so incredibly slowly and naturally, it is beautiful to watch. I love how he annoys Khya, how she dismisses him and how he continues to always be there to support her. I love how we see this all through Khya's eyes. I love how she never suddenly realises that she is in love with him. It's so much more than that. She just slowly sees him as he really is. I'm not very good at explaining this, but it's worth it to read Island of Exiles just for their relationship - all the endless action and detailed fantasy world building are just a bonus.

The whole book brings a high level of action and tension. There is never a dull moment and the end only gets more and more exciting. I can't wait for the next book. I'm incredibly grateful I had the chance to read this book.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library.
Profile Image for Danielle's.
Author 1 book139 followers
December 15, 2017
Khya lives on the island of Shiara. It's isolated and harsh. Every day is a challenge. Most die young.
Magic, secrets, and half-truths are all around.

Khya was close to her brother, Yorri until his apparent death. Now she is determined to find the truth. She is a trained warrior and dedicated to protecting her clan, but her brother's death changes everything. Now she has to put her trust in Tessen. Trust is earned not given and it will take time. Tessen is hot on Khya tracks and soon becomes integrated into her life. Could he hold some of the answers?

This book is not an easy bedtime read and I think a paperback copy would be best. I would recommend you read the glossary/Index, which is located at the back of the book. I wish I'd realised it was there, as it would help digest this book.

Island of Exiles is an interesting concept with an imaginative storyline. I enjoyed reading it, however, I had to really concentrate.

3.5 stars out of 5.

ARC received as part of the chapter by chapter blog tour for book 2 Sea of strangers. My review is honest and fair.
Profile Image for beautyliterate.
311 reviews1,386 followers
February 6, 2017
I struggled A LOT through this book but.. it was fast-paced and very unique. I wish we got a little bit more development with the important information just because I was left confused at so many parts which took away from the story.

If the crucial parts, for example, key definitions were explained more fluidly I think I would've really enjoyed this book. The plot was progressive and action packed. The characters were likable but I didn't LOVE them since I did feel so disconnected to the book as a whole.

This isn't a bad book but the main issue I had with it had such a negative effect on my overall enjoyment of the story.

*Was sent an eARC in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,084 reviews1,010 followers
February 6, 2017
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Ohhh guys, this one is unique! And has a lot going for it!  I am just going to get right into all the good stuff.


The world is incredibly unique. Like, so much. The creativity in this world is mind-blowing, honestly. The author didn't just create a place, or a group of people, she created a whole world, complete with customs, language, traditions, and so much more. It's basically the definition of rich world building. And I wanted to know all the things about it. Because it is so new, and has so much to offer, to uncover, it felt like constant discovery, and that is a win.
Speaking of the world, man, this place is rough. The author paints the picture so very well, I could feel the desperation when the storms hit, how awful it must be to be stuck in these hellish conditions. But I also felt the sense of safety when the characters made it to the city walls. Really, the whole book was quite well written in general.
I shipped the super slow-burn romance so much. It's like... you know it's happening, but it's so slow, and Khya is so resistant. She wants to focus on her goals, distraction-free. Yet, she gets two very unexpected allies- one in the form of her own potential love interest, and the other her brother's loyal love interest. These characters are definitely multi-dimensional, and it is nice to see the various sides of them.
Sexuality and gender are fluid and non-binary, and sex is just... a thing they do. It's quite interesting, and I love that the author explores this. Like, there is love, and there is sex, and sometimes they go together, and sometimes not. And some people are asexual and that's cool too. There is a third gender, and literally no one is judged. Well, about that, anyway. It's also incredibly diverse all around. Such a win.
Khya is just so... well she's badass, but also, she is so normal too. She gets pissed off like any of us would, she sometimes acts shitty to her friends, she is just so real. Also, she talks about underwear and her period, so holy awesomeness. Please, can we have more realistic characters in books? She also goes through a lot of growth, too. It's quite great.

The minor problems I had? Sure, let's do it.

The language was really hard for me to get into at the start. It took me a long time, honestly. I was wondering why I was reading so slow, but it was because I had to try to define tons of words in context. The good news? No info dumps. The bad news? Shannon was a little lost. BUT it did eventually become easier to get the hang of, so it is definitely not a deal breaker.
There were a few "big" plot points that, in the grand scheme of things, were really predictable. So while the world was so unique, sometimes I felt a bit let down when I realized that I had known all along what was coming.

Bottom Line: I will be grabbing this sequel as soon as I can. Because the book, despite a few minor glitches, was freaking awesome and full of diversity, great characters, and exceptional world building.

*Copy provided by publisher for review
Profile Image for Danya.
483 reviews22 followers
February 10, 2017
This review and others can be found at my blog, Fine Print.

Have you been struggling to find an original, well written YA fantasy? Look no further! Here are 5 reasons to read ISLAND OF EXILES by Erica Cameron.

1. Creative World Building

If you enjoy complex social, political, and cultural contexts in their fantasy novels, rejoice! ISLAND OF EXILES has it all. Khya’s clan lives on Shiara, a land of inhospitable desert that forces them within the walls of their city, where they wait out natural disasters like floods and lightning storms. Already highly ranked within an incredibly rigid hierarchical structure, Khya is determined to use her skills as a ward mage to rise even higher…and bring her younger brother Yorri along with her. The various classes of people – the laboring class, middling fighters, warriors, and political advisors to the clan’s leaders – were fascinating to read about, and add texture and depth to the world of Shiara.

2. Compelling, Flawed Characters

When you’ve spent your entire life working towards one goal, you’re bound to have a bad case of tunnel vision. Khya’s stubbornness and single minded determination is by turns endearing and frustrating, and watching her realize that she has to let the people she loves make their own fate is really satisfying. It’s especially fun to watch her realize that she may have been wrong about Tessen, her former childhood friend and current rival…whose torch for Khya burns so bright it can be seen across the entire desert. The secondary characters are all fully realized and layered, and I can’t wait to see how their relationships with one another develop in the sequel.

3. Crazy Plot Twists

When Khya learns that the ruling council has kept vital truths from their people, her fight to improve her brother’s station becomes one to save her entire clan. ISLAND OF EXILES delivers some truly jaw-dropping plot twists, and surprises come from both within the city’s walls and without. The increasing number of lightning storms plaguing the clan, the incursions by enemy clans, and even the very class structure of the clan itself are all part of a much larger plot. Khya, Tessen, Sani, and their friends race against the clock to put it all together, and their adventures kept me flipping pages well into the night.

4. Multi-Level Diversity

Erica Cameron does an exceptional job of writing a diverse cast without feeling as though she’s aiming for some sort of diversity checklist. The entire cast of ISLAND OF EXILES is non-white, and queer people abound. A third gender (ebet/ey/eir) is accepted and celebrated, and there’s also great representation of asexuality. Khya’s society is quite sex positive even among teenagers – which isn’t a surprise given the average life expectancy of 30 years – and Khya herself has had relationships with men and women. It was really refreshing to see that sexuality and gender were total non-issues between Khya and her comrades, although there was definitely a lot of good-natured teasing about conquests!

5. Adorable ‘Ships

Which brings me to my next point: adorable ships, adorable ships everywhere! ISLAND OF EXILES features a number of really sweet, well-written romances, not the least of which is the slow burn developing between Khya and Tessen. Two words: swoon worthy. I squealed aloud multiple times at the cuteness! Erica Cameron is so good at writing romances that she can even sell a ship where the characters involved only appear on page together twice. That’s skill!

So what are you waiting for? Order your copy or place a hold on Erica Cameron’s ISLAND OF EXILES, releasing Feb. 14th!
Profile Image for Leah.
980 reviews337 followers
February 24, 2017
***I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

SUMMARY:


In Erica Cameron's ISLAND OF EXILES, we visit a nation ensconced in magic and a hierarchy based upon strength and ability. They're is taught to put complete faith in their leaders and to put the well-being of the clan before themselves or anything/anyone else.

The only person Khya really loves and trusts is her younger brother Yorri, and she is determined to protect and take care of him. When Yorri is suddenly proclaimed dead due to a surprise attack from their enemies, it's not long before Khya starts to suspect that's not the whole truth. To discover what's really going on, she must team up with the boy who's always been her competition, and a person who she doesn't know but who Yorri loved and trusted implicitly.

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REVIEW:

Erica Cameron has never let me down, and she continues to succeed in hooking me in with ISLAND OF EXILES.

Admittedly, it took me a little while to get into it at first. From the very beginning, we're immediately tossed into this new world, with a bunch of different terms and sayings. Even with the help of the glossary (which I didn't know existed until I get to the end of the book, so keep an eye out for that, if it's not at the front in the final version), I felt a bit like a fish out of water for a while, trying to understand what exactly was going on. But after a few chapters, and some helpful context clues, I was able to immerse myself in the world Cameron creates without stumbling over the new words.

Which I am so thankful for, because the worldbuilding in this novel is incredible. Cameron details different ethnic nations, social and magical hierarchies, multiple sexual and gender identities, technological advances, and so much more. It doesn't read like a history book at all, but as a history nerd who is fascinated by the progression of these things throughout the ages, it was so fascinating to read about all of these in ISLAND OF EXILES.

Speaking of sexualities and gender, I loved Cameron's work in these two areas, because they are both such non-issues in the society she's created. There is a third gender that is recognized by all in the society, and there are specific pronouns that they use for those who identify as ebet. It's pretty much the same with sexuality. The main character, Khya, is either bisexual or pansexual, and it's never an issue. The same with Etaro, one of Khya's friends and squad members, who is asexual. No one give's a fuck! (Heh. Literally in Etaro's case.) I'd love to to live in a society that is so accepting of sexuality and gender that isn't heterosexual and cisgender. (Not this society because I've read the book so I know what's up, but you know what I mean.)

Finally, I loved all of the characters! None of them are flat or one dimensional. They're all human, with vast and differing emotions. They love, they hurt, they get angry, they forgive, they keep secrets, they try to protect their loved ones. None of them are perfect by any means. They're just as flawed and broken as an every day person, which is something I love to see in characters I'm reading about and trying to identify with.

Overall, this book is amazing and a wonderful read. I cannot wait to read the second one, and to see what else Erica Cameron releases in the future.
Profile Image for Melissa (YA Book Shelf).
741 reviews133 followers
February 15, 2017
Haven't been reading much of late, but wow! I'm not a fantasy reader really, but honestly, I loved this diverse story and can't wait for the rest of the books in this series to release.

Tons of action, adventure, and there's a good reason why so many authors and even Kirkus Reviews have fallen hard for this book. Pick it up today and see for yourself.
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
January 11, 2018
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Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

2.5 stars rounded up to 3 stars due to Tessen & Sanii!

Khya is a clan warrior whose home is an isolated desert island. She's closest to her brother, Yorri and is constantly pestered by her rival, Tessen. As a rare fykina who can make wards to protect from magic and physical dangers she is important to her team and her ambition in life is to become a leader of her clan. When her brother's body mysteriously disappears she goes on a quest to learn what really happened even if it means betraying her clan and everything she's ever known.

My favorite sort of genre is young adult dystopian of any sort - apocalyptic or fantasy based it doesn't matter to me. It's all about survival baby! So this should fall right in line with my favorite sort of books...

The magic with the wards and how Khya adapted it was quite well done. Loved the inclusion of the crystals. Yorri's and Tessen's magicks were quite cool as well though we lose Yorri early on. Tessen's were really convenient for the plot of sneaking around and I wish they were diversified in use a little better but I understand that overlistening was important to the plot.

I really loved the city complex Khya and the other characters lived in. Loved the underground part of the city, the gardens on the roof, the bathing halls, the servant paths, the mulch area for the dead, the pyramid for the city leaders. Also the location on the coast was cool as a spot for her and her brother. I could envision the characters moving around the complex and the different areas they explored.

Tessen. Yeah one word - loved him! In today's world a man who can take the backseat is important. I liked that Tessen felt like his own man but that he also respected Khya even when Khya didn't deserve that respect. Slow burn romances make a lot more sense to me as we tend to fall in love as we experience life with another person. This romance really worked well. I loved when she realized he always backed off when she told him to go away!

The idea of Yorri and Khya's sibling relationship being a strong motivator was a good one. I liked the idea of Khya being almost a mother to Yorri... Older sisters do that to their siblings and I loved how true to siblings these two were with each other. In the end though the relationship played out rather selfishly as if to just make Khya a special warrior instead of just one of the rank and file. I did adore Yorri and how he makes Khya a better person for her loving him. It's only Yorri thinking differently that caused Khya to rebel. I just wish instead of Khya making their relationship all about her she'd have thought of Yorri more.

Sanii had a lot of wasted potential. I liked the part ey played in the mystery of finding Yorri but there was so much more that could have been done...

The Miresah were not a bad idea. They do smack a little of overly simplified vampires but this sort of book needs a major villain and nothing else talked about in the book felt hefty enough for me to believe they were the main conflict. This wasn't exactly a secret and the government such as it is tends to be the villain in a dystopian. So I'm on the fence with this one, but at least the villain was not a wimpy one.

Yet I struggled to enjoy this book and it mainly had to do with Khya. A lot of ideas were crammed into the book without much forethought of what would be used in the course of the story and what would be best to leave out or only lightly touch upon. This is okay with me if I have a MC that I love and will follow into anything... Khya was not that character to me and Tessen was not a sufficiently equal enough character for relating to him to be enough.

Khya stands as an extremely selfish woman to me. She dominated her brother and then was surprised when he made choices without sharing his reasoning with her. You go Yorri! Overthrow the man (uh, woman)!! She really has a lot of nerve complaining about her government when she's not that much different from them and if it hadn't been for her brother being one of the ones locked away probably would have gone along with it like her parents had before her.

Not only did I find Khya not a character I want to root for but she was also very inconsistently written with her romance with Tessen. His actions toward Khya felt like a part of his character and who he is as a person but Khya an extremely loyal person was all over the place. People who tend to be loyal do not tend to change at the drop of a hat, in fact they are pretty fanatical in believing in whatever they are loyal to. Tessen though was outside of this. Supposedly they were thick as thieves when they were young but that changed when he got promoted? Even if this is believable to you, its still hard to believe that she suddenly didn't understand Tessen's motivations. She at least knew the guy, growing up with him. She wouldn't have known him growing up and been close and then suddenly not understand him one bit. I especially don't believe someone who has had sex and been in relationships multiple times with multiple sexes (a female and a 3rd-gender?) before they were 19 wouldn't suspect that he likes her.

What makes more sense to Khya's character is that Khya always knew Tessen liked her but blew him off for taking her promotions (and that rot) and only after losing her brother allowed him close enough for her to realize she was attracted to him back. Now that I believe could happen in the inbetween period of adolescence and all the emotions riled up by young love/sex.

The language used to describe the world was very heavy. I noticed it right off as I didn't even know if Khya was a girl or a boy at first. The language does lighten up the farther into the book you go but that tends to happen as the writer falls back into their more normal language to get the book written. I wish some effort had been made to go back to the beginning and lighten the load there so to speak. Clarify who is who and what is what. The heavy language did not add to the world building in the slightest.

I like the idea of a desert island and that the storms are a major problem for them. I thought with the magic and how much was made of the people's different ranks that it would play a huge part of the story. In reality a lot of time was spent in the city complex looking for a secret hiding place that was too obvious to be believed (i.e. you can guess it easily once Sanii comes to Khya.) While the magic, specifically Khya's magic, was useful in the course of the plot there was I was disappointed it was not used in a more diversified way. I liked that the steps of them solving the mystery were shown very well but I wish that I had been surprised more.

While I applaud a desire to create a 3rd gender I felt it very odd that it is what lead the story. Khya is female and not of this asexual gender so it became very confusing. Rule #1 - Don't lead with something that has nothing to do with the main character. To try to alert you of the difference between the secondary characters fancy words were put in place:

"Etaro’s smile dims and ey shakes eir head, narrow eyes lined with concern."


I actually thought this a great way to show what sex the characters around Khya were if it hadn't happened so early in the book, because it creates this kind of confusion (my comment about it!) "Why would you randomly insert 'ey' and 'eir' instead of he and him? And does it apply to both sexes or just the male?"

Etaro seemed like a male name to me. not a sexless one. In fact I only understood about the 'ey' and 'eir' after I looked up an article by the author explaining it. I've read several books and stories with a 3rd gender as this was popular in 60s and 70s sci-fi - I can't even tell you the names of the books or short stories at this point - but I didn't find this a successful rendition of it.

I would have liked the main character (or one of the main characters) to be this gender. Sanii was an incredible character. Of the 2 or 3 characters of this 3rd-gender Sanii was the one I thought the most successful even if eir's name felt feminine to me. I would have LOVED to read from ey's POV. With both Khya and Sanii as POV characters it takes the pressure off of Sanii being such a unique character while still using the 3rd gender idea plus we learn of eir's feelings and angst over Yorri who is a major motivation for all of the plot in the book.

BOTTOM LINE: A dystopian world filled with many diverse ideas worth exploring.

Note: Changed my rating from 3.5 stars to 2.5 stars after writing my review.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter...
Profile Image for Kirsty (Amethyst Bookwyrm).
629 reviews72 followers
October 20, 2017
Thanks to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing for giving me this book to review.

Island of Exiles is a good book with an interesting story and world which is a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel. It was well written with good world building, interesting characters, full of action and a romance which was there but did not take over the story. I really enjoy fantasy books but I found the names and titles overly confusing which caused me to feel that it was slow to start. Similarly, the three genders confused me as it was not explained that Ebet were a different gender and for ages I thought it was a spelling mistake. However, I did like that nobody cared about others sexuality, whether they be bisexual, asexual or somewhere in-between, which is not common in most books.

Khya is strong, protective and dedicated but is also stubborn and selfish. There are three other main characters, Yorri who is intelligent, Tessen who I like as he is cunning but good, and Sanii who had a lot of potential which I hope is explored further in future books.

This is an enjoyable book and I am looking forward to reading the next book Sea of Strangers. I would recommend Island of Exiles to fans of unusual fantasy novels.

This and my other reviews can be found at Amethyst Bookwyrm
Profile Image for diana.
800 reviews115 followers
February 21, 2017
ASDFGHJKL!!

This. Book. Is. So. Badass.

I admit I was so confused in the beginning with all the unfamiliar terms I came across (but hey that's what the glossary is for right?) but once I got myself familiarized with the world, the book just got a whole lot better.
I don't think I've ever read a book quite like Island of Exiles. I didn't know what to expect from this but what I got? What I got was an amazing blend of diverse characters, an amazing worldbuilding, a unique and complex world one would rarely come across, the most slow-burn and enticing romance ever and an exciting, twisty story that kept me reading 'til three in the morning. This book was quite long and I LOVE every second of it.

ISLAND OF EXILES has everything I want in a YA fantasy.

Read this. Seriously.

Oh and have I mentioned I am in desperate need of book two now?!? (And trust me, you'll feel the same way once you finish this book.)

E-arc provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Brett Jonas.
45 reviews47 followers
October 20, 2016
I got the chance to read an early version of this book, and it absolutely blew me away! I can't wait for the release date so I can reread it - and so I can have other people to fangirl with!!
Profile Image for Alexa.
651 reviews35 followers
February 13, 2017
This book... is just... incredible. It begins so simply, not quite a “Oh, look, another magic-ridden high fantasy” feel, because it does have a very epic, even almost chilling start, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be as mind-blowingly phenomenal as it actually is. That comes on slowly—yet the story was never boring. It begins with a simple but strong story stake, then builds and builds and builds on that, one shocker plot twist at a time, until the end result is something completely other than what the beginning suggested. Everything is different; nothing is at it seemed. And each step further into the complexity of this story, the tension draws tauter and tauter, pulling you deeper and deeper, until you’re riveted, glued to the page, body tense, stomach swirling, heart stopped... waiting to see what’ll happen next (I know because I spent a solid hour in that position as the climax hit). The intricacy to the layers in this story is absolutely stunning; I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a book quite like it. Something similar? Sure. In the same vein for one characteristic or another? Definitely. But something exactly like this?

Never.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

If you'd like to read more of my thoughts on this book (for instance, my opinion on the characters and the romance), you can find the full review on Verbosity Reviews.

Note: I voluntarily reviewed a free ecopy of this book.
Profile Image for Di.
382 reviews33 followers
November 30, 2017


I have NO idea why this book hasn't had more hype! I really, really enjoyed it and it's like nothing I have ever read - which is saying something, especially in the YA world!

The world building is complex, thorough and absolutely fascinating: Erica Cameron has done an AMAZING job of creating a distinctive and diverse fantasy world.

The writing is descriptive and yet easy to read and the world is full of gritty and shocking detail. There's a glossary provided at the back of the book to help orient the reader (if necessary) and it's clear that every last detail has been so well thought out in advance; from the social structure to the politics to the culture. There's a whole lexicon of rankings and unique terms and while this may be confusing or intimidating to some readers, THIS particular reader was entirely grateful and appreciative of the intricacies and involvement of this world and the sheer depth of world-building involved.

The island of Shiara is dystopian-esque in quality and the intensity of the plot is breathtaking from the very first chapter.

I absolutely LOVED how effortlessly diverse this book is. It wasn't diverse for the sake of being diverse; it just was. There were multiple sexual orientations (including asexual), an absolute plethora of varying skin colours, even a third gender with its own specific pronouns!! Yet none of this was unusual in this fantasy world and sex positive society.

The main character, Khya was just a breath of fresh air. She's a Desosa Mage which means she can manipulate energy and in her particular case she is a fykina ward mage -able to shield herself and others from both magic and the physical world. She's a warrior in every sense of the word and her fierceness, stubborn nature and dedication both to the clan and to her brother completely endeared her to me and seeing this world through her POV and watching her character development throughout the book completely invested me in the world and the plot.

All of the characters in fact were just fantastically written - multilayered, complex and so REAL with their own personality quirks and flaws.

The romance!!! Wow, the romance. It was a complete SLOW BURN and somehow it featured all of my most favourite tropes and I just SHIPPED IT SO HARD!!! It was a total asset to the story and yet also managed never to be the center of attention and didn't take away from the main plot arc at all. I wouldn't mind seeing A LOT more of the romance in the next book - just saying!!

The magical system in this world is also really well thought out and systematic. There wasn't any one point where it was too unbelievable and the use of magic always took it's toll - I appreciate that in a fantasy.

This completely unique book is full of mind-blowing creativity, unpredictable twists and turns, one of the most enticing romances I have read in a while and a riveting plot that draws you in further and further until the desperation is palpable. I definitely cannot wait to read more of this series and I can't wait to see where Cameron takes us next.

Since the day one of the yonin nursemaids smiled at me and said, “You take very good care of your brother.”
Your brother.
Yorri had been
mine—the first and only thing that had ever belonged to me more than the clan—and I promised to protect him; I swore it on blood before I knew how tightly those vows bind.
Profile Image for Rebekah.
728 reviews955 followers
February 21, 2017
A HUGE Thank you to EntangledTeen for this book which I got in exchange for an honest review.

Full review to come...
Profile Image for Hannah Brauning.
5 reviews1 follower
November 23, 2016
I had the chance to read an early copy of this book, and I already can't wait for the sequel. The story is engaging and satisfying with high adventure, subtle yet steamy romance, and beautiful, diverse relationships. Key to this book are the well-developed characters. They give you a glimpse into this world so different from ours by feeling the beats of the story alongside the characters and learning about their society and place in it. Altogether, it's really good read.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,102 reviews1,321 followers
February 2, 2018
3 stars for potential teen readers, 2 stars for my own enjoyment. Unfortunately pretty run-of-the-mill fantasy, albeit the nonchalant inclusion of a non-binary / third gender/sex, asexuality, and bisexuality (not that I'm down playing that!). Although I'm still unclear about the non-binary category: I think it's a third sex with physical differences (ie, they can't have biological children the text says) and a corresponding gender identity (called 'ebets') but it's not made very clear. It's also a bit disappointing that the main character is technically bi but the only confirmation is so quick it's like blink and you'll miss it. The sole romance in the book was very standard, boring boy-girl.

Both the world building and the characters felt underdeveloped and not especially unique, which is particularly annoying when the book has 400 pages in which to do so!
Profile Image for Jannin (The Booknerd Dragon).
101 reviews2 followers
February 21, 2017
First of all, I want to let you know that this book tour is brought to you by YA Reads Blog Tour so I want to thank them for giving me the chance to host a tour.


The story is about a girl named Khya who has a brother named Yorri. Yorri is about to have his herynshi, a trial undergone by all citizens of Itagami the year of their sixteenth birthday to find out which status they belong (Nyshin, Ahdo, Yonin respectively from high to low), but he hasn’t discovered his magic yet. So Khya got worried because if Yorri can’t manifest a magic during his herynshi then he will be put as Yonin, normal people who only work for those higher to them. And Khya doesn’t want that because their parents were both in the high ranks in their government. So Khya did something to force Yorri’s magic out in which she succeeded. And so does Yorri during his herynshi. However, days after Yorri got assigned on a squad; he died while doing his duty protecting a clan mate. When Khya found out about it, her whole world suddenly crumble. Until one day, a friend of Yorri’s talk to Khya and told her that Yorri is still alive. So Khya plan to find his brother even if it means betraying Itagami. And then Khya also found an unwanted help from Tessen, her love interest. The three of them, Khya, Sanii, Yorri’s friend, and Tessen created a plan to find Yorri. No matter what it takes.

When I read the blurb of the book, it interests me because there is a sibling love, the kind of love that I rarely read in a book. So I grabbed it and read it.

However, when I was reading the first part of it I was so confused as to what was going on. I even assumed that Khya was a boy. It feels like she’s a boy at first. And I also got confused about her powers. I know what a ward is but I just didn’t expect that that was Khya’s powers. In the beginning of the book I thought her power was to control the weather or maybe the lightning. But then it turns out that she’s a fykina, a mage who can build a shield to protect them from other magic and the physical world (like rocks, debris, and even rain).

But after clearing all the confusions, I find myself enjoying the book. I love how Khya takes care of Yorri so much and vice versa. I understand why Khya was so concerned in forcing Yorri’s power out of him though it would also be good if Khya just let Yorri decide on his own whether he likes to be a nyshin or an ahdo or even yonin. But then there’s a reason for everything.

One of the things I like about this book is how Khya is towards her relationship with Tessen. I mean Tessen is the man but the way they treat each other it’s Khya who’s the one wearing the pants in the relationship. If ever there’s a relationship to begin with. Khya is so slow when it comes to feelings and emotions that doesn’t have to do with Yorri. Seriously. That’s what we Filipinos call “manhid” which means numb. Because she’s too numb not to feel what Tessen really felt towards her. Manhid! Lol.

The only downside of this book is the lack of adventure. I mean they have powers and magic and mysteries but while I was reading it I feel like I’m only standing in one place of the book all throughout the story. It’s not an action genre but they have powers and magic, aren’t they supposed to be like a very wild adventure because of that. If there is I didn’t feel it while I was reading it. There are a lot of talking and less adventure. The action only happened on the last part of the book which leaves me wanting for more. Though there are parts where Khya and her squad go out to hunt food and stuff in between chapters, I feel like it’s not the kind of action and adventure I want to read in a book with magic in it.

On the end of the book I get to see Khya use her powers beyond her usual limit. She pushed herself just to save the people important to her. Although there were no exchange of blows and spilling of blood, the fact that they used their magic in the end of the book a lot more than throughout the whole book is what made the ending a step up.

The book is good, don’t get me wrong. I just thought that it’s still lacking. I feel like the author could still do better. And I am hoping that she will in the second book of this series. I am still looking forward on reading the second book.

I would recommend this book to you peeps but not as much as I recommend some other books I reviewed here. Though if you want to give this book a chance, go ahead. Don’t let my opinion get in the way.

That’s all for this review peeps! Thank you for reading up to here! Love you all!
Profile Image for Lauren.
508 reviews76 followers
Read
July 14, 2017
I dunno, it was a bit slow and kinda hard to get into.
I just... couldn't get into it.

I hate not finishing books, but I think the one thing that really really threw me off was all the different words. I couldn't keep track of all of them and was literally flipping to the glossary constantly.

I made it about a quarter of the way through (a little more than 100 pages) before realizing this book just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Sky.
254 reviews32 followers
February 7, 2018
please tell me why more people aren't talking about this book????????????

-

How do I even begin talking about this book? Straight to the point, I really freaking loved it. It’s all the things I could want in a book. Survivalism, fantasy, strong female main character, diversity in all the characters, and betrayal?!? Island of Exiles delivers on so many levels, I don’t understand how more people aren’t talking about it. All the time in the book community people are begging for good diversity, and let me tell you, this book has it.

Let’s start with the entire third gender in this book. With their own pronouns, their neither male nor female called ebets. There’s also no segregation by gender amongst the caste system. (It’s completely segregated by their magical abilities). I was ecstatic when I realized that there was a third gender. As someone who is non-binary it’s really amazing to see any type of gender identity that isn’t male or female.

There were also multiple sexual orientations; the main character had relations with multiple genders. A prominent side character who is asexual and an ebet!

“I mean, you’re more my preference than he is, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see the appeal. No need to be ashamed. Sex is perfectly natural. Everyone does it.” “Almost everyone,” Etaro corrects, cheeks flushing darker. Ey once told me that ey couldn’t see the appeal of rolling around naked with someone. When most of eir yearmates started experimenting, ey declared emself ushimo.”

And it was also hinted that another side character was in a poly type relationship.

“Are you two starting something again? I thought he had a thing now with the guy and the ebet quartered in the Southeastern Zon, the nyshin-pa who— Bellows. What were their names?”

All of it was so causal, none of the plot was effected at all by any of this. Which is a beautiful thing. Something I want to mention is that in their belief system there is a special bond called sumai and this is how it’s described:

“Siblings, friends, or ushimo—those who love deeply but never want sex—it doesn’t matter. The desire to lie with someone has nothing to do with the sumai; the only thing that matters for the bond is trust, abiding love, and the desire to keep them close through this life and the next.”

How beautiful is that? To have a bond beyond the social constructs of relationships, is amazing.

Now, I really loved the main character. She is everything I love in a strong female main character. Kickass with weapons and magic. Her struggles though, some of them were so similar to mine that I really just connected with her. And watching her grow from those struggles was something that I could read over and over again. Now, there wasn’t any insta-love but there was an obvious connection (to the reader, not necessarily right away to the mc). I really didn’t mind that it took almost the whole book for that connection to really become a thing. It felt very realistic and that’s something I can appreciate.

OH, can we talk about how the main character had her PERIOD and there was a whole little bit about it???

“I shuck the loincloth and breast band I slept in, and stare at the spots of blood on the cloth. What? Did I injure myself or— Oh. Right. Of course. Muttering curses to myself, I toss my clothing in a pile to bring to the yonin in charge of laundry. With everything that has happened the last week, I lost track of the moon cycle and ignored the minor cramps. I should’ve been expecting my gensu. It’s late, but that can happen.”

“The process of tying the extra layer into my loincloth and getting dressed takes a few minutes, and it’s something I’ll have to deal with several times a day for the next few days.”


With a (male) side character involved who didn’t blink an eye at it.

“He doesn’t protest when I need a longer break to run to the washroom attached to the training yard to deal with the necessary inconveniences of the gensu.”

There was nothing squeamish about it, there was no mocking, it was just fact. A female having her period in a fantasy world was simply a. fact. Yes yes yes yes yes yes. Thank you. It’s about time that this was talked about so casually in Young Adult. Especially in Young Adult Fantasy. So kudos to the author for that.

I also really enjoyed just the overall world building and the setting of the book. The author painted a great picture and it was pretty easy to grasp the concepts of the plot. I was intrigued and surprised by the plot twists and I loved being so easily drawn into this book.

So if you like magic, fantasy, betrayal and diversity, I definitely recommend this book!
Profile Image for Jen.
228 reviews2 followers
February 5, 2017
At first I want to thank the team of Entangled Teen - a special thanks goes to Melissa - to give me the chance of reading 'Island Of Exiles' by providing an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion from my side!

The first impression, when I see a book is always the cover. Am I tending to read books with amazing covers? Yes, most definitely! And that's exactly how I feel about this cover. It's amazing and I love it!

Erica Cameron's writing style is addictive. The wording isn't always the easiest, as it's not the typical standard language but I absolutely enjoyed it. In my opinion it's refreshing to read something what challenges my mind every here and there and that's the way it was while I've been reading this book.

I couldn't find any boring scenes at all. This thrilling story is full of action and kept my mind occupied all the time. Thanks to the author's amazing writing style it came so naturally to imagine every scene, place, character and even the smells in this story that I literally inhaled this book.

You will also meet some really great characters in 'Island Of Exiles'.

There is Khya, the protagonist of this book. She is absolutely loyal, caring, well respected, strong, has courage and some badass fighting skills, as well as some very impressive magical skills. But most important? She has a big, loving heart and fights until the end for the ones she loves.

Then you will meet Yorri. He is Khya's little brother. Yorri too has an amazing personality. He is caring and loving, thinks outside the box and loves to discover new things but there is way more to him than you could imagine in the first place.

After a little while you will stumble across Tessen. In the beginning I couldn't quite tell, if I do like him or not but soon he started to earn a place in my heart. He seemed like an arrogant guy, who doesn't need to do anything to have success in his life. After a few chapters though? He has shown his true, amazing self bit by bit. Tessen showed, that he doesn't care if he gets in trouble for helping the people he cares for. Even, if that would mean to die trying.

But you won't just find good, loving characters. No. You will find many enemies in this fast-paced story, whose actions will let the hair on the back of your neck rise.

'Island Of Exiles' is most definitely already one of my reading highlights in 2017! I can recommend this book to everyone, who enjoys a thrilling story with heaps of action, great characters and a touch of a teasing love story between the lines. I can't wait to join Khya and all the other characters on the next part of their journey in book #2 in the 'The Ryogan Chronicles'.
Profile Image for Natalie.
2,338 reviews51 followers
March 30, 2017
I felt thrown into a fantasy world with no explanation or guidance. Thankfully, I found the glossary of terms in the back of the book fairly early on, but even with that I was lost. The governmental ranking system was hard to follow too. 400 pages later and the only thing I get is that "yonin" is the lowest class and the Miriseh are the highest - I couldn't kept track of any of the others.

Also, I didn't like the main character much at all. Khya was very hard to relate to. I found her to be very controlling, especially with her brother, and very reckless. And her feelings about the love interest were all over the place. It took her almost the entire book to figure out that he liked her. Why else would he hang out with her all the time? What I couldn't figure out was why he liked her at all. She was mean and rude to him all the time.

It did have some moments of action which I enjoyed a lot, but on the whole, this wasn't my favorite.

625 reviews4 followers
April 2, 2017
From both a plotting/worldbuilding and diversity standpoint, this was fantastic. The plot and the incipient romance tied together well, and the world the story took place in held true. The story also features numerous characters of a third gender with their own pronouns (ey, em, eir; like they, them, their, but with no associations with the plural), an asexual character who is friends with the protagonist and therefore shows up fairly frequency, and a bisexual protagonist. People in this world also don't touch each other without permission, which I've only seen in one other novel (Kameron Hurley's Mirror Empire) and wish turned up more, because it's such an interesting commentary on consent.
Profile Image for Katherine Paschal.
2,123 reviews55 followers
December 6, 2017
**3.5 Stars**
Khya's whole world is protecting her brother and doing her duty to her clan, her own needs don't play a big role in her choices. But when something shocking happens, Khya is lost and can't figure out who she is anymore. An encounter with someone important to her brother causes Khya to question everything she knows, including the bigger purpose on her island.

I was in love with the cover from the first moment I saw it so I knew I needed to get my hands on this book ( I had to buy myself a physical copy to proudly display on my bookcase). Full disclosure, I was super shocked at the content of the book- I went into the book expecting a modern day teen survival story, which this was not even a little bit. This was a full fledged fantasy world full of complicated magic, society, creatures and gods that I knew nothing about. I know fantasy likes to blindly drop the reader into the world, but there was absolutely no back story here and I floundered for awhile to try and put together pieces which made it hard for me to get invested in the story. Be it the hierarchy of the society, the magic aspects, the names for people and pretty much everything in the book, was completely foreign to me and hard to say. At the end of the book was a glossary which was really helpful and I wish I had seen it before I started the book because I felt a little bit like I was in over my head. That being said, the second half of the story really picked up for me and I flew through the pages now that I understood the world and there was so much action I could experience, less introspective thinking.





There were three genders within this society, male, female and Ebet- neither male or female (which made me super curious as to what parts were what or if it was a mind set as to what they associated with) It was a really interesting concept but it made me wonder how reproduction could work and I would have loved more details in general about things like that- whether an ebet could conceive. Also, the pronouns were super confusing and didn't start feeling more natural until half way through the book (I had no idea about the third gender until way into the story and was like 80% convinced that the strange pronounce was some sort of typo in the digital copy I was reading. It was really interesting where gender really didn't matter at all to the society, be it when it came to romance and sex, you just pick someone regardless of things with no stigma associated; also being nonsexual (Ushimo) was very common- you could even have a soul bond to a person and be completely platonic.

Khya was a hard character to understand, both from the reader and the tribe point of view. She was very closed off and private, refusing to get to know anyone, but taking on the responsibility of the clan. She considered Yorri "hers" so therefore she would fight to the death to keep him safe, regardless of what he wanted or needed. She acted like the adult or parent to him regardless of him only being a year younger and very capable himself. I felt very sad for Khya though, since Yorri was her everything (obsesseively so at times- it made me slightly uncomfortable in the beginning) where as he had a full life outside of her that she knew nothing about. It felt like he was a more complete person than she was at the start of the book.



Tessen was hands down my favorite character, I completely loved him and his perseverance, the fact he became the strength Khya needed, willing to risk everything he knew to take a stand with Khya. To be honest, he was pretty dreamy, with his sly smile and quiet determination- I wanted to shake Khya to really see him for who he was, and not what she thought he was capable of.

This was a very different type of read than I have experienced recently and the world building was so intricately done. This is the first in a series (of how many, I don't know) and I am glad I can jump right into the second book to continue my journey with Khya and her crew.

Come visit me @ https://smadasbooksmack.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Holly.
575 reviews136 followers
February 19, 2017
I’d been eager to read this book since I’d seen a post from Erica on Twitter about it and chatted with her briefly. I am a huge fan of fantasy, and this book sounded right up my alley. I also loved the idea that Erica would be exploring the idea of asexuality in the book, as I have never read about that in any book (at least not where it’s explicitly named, although it’s possible it was hinted at in some book and I missed it). So, I jumped a the chance to be on this tour with YA Reads, and let me tell you, this book did not disappoint! I don’t want to get too much into plot and what happens (I hate spoilers), but I will address the things I liked best about this book.

Island of Exiles had everything I love in a fantasy: excellent world-building; a world that is presented in a way we can easily visualize it; strong, complex characters; and a story that immediately draws you in. The structure of the society was pretty fascinating, mixing some more traditional fantasy (and real-life) elements with some new and intriguing twists. From the first page, I could really “see” Shiara, and I could imagine very well how the desert dust covered everything, how parched the warriors must get out on their patrols. The animals and plants (such as there were) were very cool; I mean, the teegras sounded like some crazy combination of big jungle cats and snakes - awesome! As different as they were, it was easy to visualize them, and they weren’t so unbelievable as to catapult us out of the story. Overall, the world-building was excellent.

In addition to the world-building, I think Erica did a great job with the characters. I love how Khya is such a tough warrior even though she’s only 17, but it’s totally believable because of how their society is structured, since children are raised learning to fight (and fight hard). I also liked that she was always watching out for and helping her younger brother, and that their bond was so close. Tessen captured me from the moment he appeared on the page; I was a little googly-eyed for him, I admit! Khya’s best friends Rai and Etaro are also fantastic characters.

I want to mention that Khya also captured my heart as soon as I realized she has a “thing” with touching, because I am similar in that respect. I could feel her squirming when her friend engulfs her in a big hug (not something they would normally do, but they’d been worried about her). I could feel her unease when Tessen would be too close, too much in her personal space (yes, even though I was smitten with him!). I have to say, I really liked seeing myself in that aspect of her character. It’s interesting how just that aspect of her character can make me like her even more. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s my firm belief that authors would do well to give their characters some “quirks” of personality that many of us have. None of us are “perfect,” and why should we want our book characters to be? I don’t, that’s for sure! This kind of reality in characters does two things: first, if we share that trait, we are happy to see ourselves reflected in the character; and second, if we don’t share that trait, we may gain some knowledge of, perhaps even empathy for, people who do. It’s a win-win, in my opinion!

Since I referred to this in the intro, I’ll touch on two aspects of this book that were mostly new to me: the inclusion of a third sex, and the inclusion of asexuality as an accepted, normal point on the sexual spectrum. First, I liked the fact that there was a third sex in Khya’s society, with those neither male nor female being called “ebet.” Although not exactly new to me - I’ve read (mainly science fiction) books with multiple and/or different sexes before - I really liked the way it was presented here. It took a bit of getting used to, which I’ll admit was uncomfortable at the beginning, but I think to some degree that is the idea. After all, we’re at a point in our society where people are choosing to live their true selves and choosing how they’d like to be referred to, eg, using the plural pronoun to avoid gendered pronouns. If we don’t confront the way it makes us feel uncomfortable at first - using plural pronoun to refer to a single person - then we won’t be able to honor their wishes. Erica has a riff on this idea, using “ey” where you might use “they,” “eir” for “their,” and “emself” for “themself.” It took a few times for me to realize that when she’d start a sentence about Etaro, “Ey ran toward me…”, that “Ey” was not a nickname for Etaro, as I’d originally thought, but rather use of the non-gendered pronoun! But it didn’t take long for it to start to flowing from my tongue just as easily as seeing “he” in connection with Tessen and “she” in connection with Rai. I think that’s the great thing Erica has done here, which is to force us to read it and say it in our heads enough that it becomes second nature and doesn’t seem so “weird” anymore. At least, I hope that will be others’ experience as well!

Second, I really appreciated how Erica put the issue of asexuality before us with one of her characters. It is a concept that a lot of us (at least older folks like myself, if not those who would actually be considered YA themselves!) don’t know much about. That is, we may in fact have *lived it*, but we’ve not necessarily put a name to it before. Asexuality in Khya’s world is not so unusual, and there is a word for it, “ushimo.” (As a side note, there are also homosexual relationships.) I appreciate that it was even talked about, in a way that I’ve never read in a book. It’s just nice to know that not every person thinks about sex all the time - or ever - and, again, it’s an aspect of a character with which those readers who identify as asexual can identify. It helps them to see themselves represented, and it helps the rest of the readers get a better sense of what asexuality means. As I said before, it’s a win-win!

Well, that ended up being a much longer review than I’d anticipated, but there you go! I really loved this book, and I can’t wait to read more by Erica. I would highly recommend Island of Exiles to any fantasy fan, even if you’re not someone who normally reads YA. It’s an excellent addition to the fantasy genre, and I can’t wait to read the next installment!
Profile Image for Erica Chilson.
Author 34 books428 followers
March 1, 2017
I received a copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads

3 Stars.

The blurb was a definite hook for me, especially with the Graceling being one of my all-time favorite young adult fantasy novels. But the language and terminology confused this 38-yo writer/avid reader, so I wonder how much a young adult will comprehend while reading.

I've struggled over the course of two weeks to read this novel, reading about 10% in a sitting before switching to another book, then coming back for another tenth of the book, more than determined to finish it. At the start, I felt like I was forced to solve a complicated puzzle with all the terminology and how the reader is thrust into a world with no explanation, being left to figure it out on their own.

I'm not necessarily a simple reader, but this novel made me feel like one with how confused I was. I've read thousands of books in varying genres, especially this one, so I know what some of the terms used meant. I grasped the overall plot, but was still left to solve what was being said in the paragraphs.

In a nutshell, I felt as if I was reading a foreign language after being dropped into a foreign land, and through familiarity I had to learn how to speak the language (eventually I got it, but it harmed the entertainment factor). While beautiful, and lent an ethereal and realistic feel to the world created, it created a jarring flow as the reader tried to puzzle through understanding the words used to tell the story.

As the writer and creator, the author knows what she meant when writing, but that didn't necessarily translate to the reader understanding. Eventually, yes. But it shouldn't be so much work at the start. The beginning is when the reader must be hooked, and I fear the majority will toss in the towel long before they comprehend the beautiful world created. I personally experienced a disconnect between me and the characters due to the writing style, which I battled the entire duration of the long book.

AFTER I conquered the novel, there was a glossary of terms at the end of the book, which I wish I knew existed prior to starting. If you're reading my review prior to purchasing/reading the novel, click to the glossary first. It will make your reading enjoyment much more fulfilling. Though, at the same time, it feels a bit like you have to study and keep notes in order to read the book.

At the start, the reader is thrust into a harsh world, with Khya as our narrator. She's a strong, stubborn, responsible role model of a character, with utter devotion to her brother- Yorri. Yorri was one of my favorite characters. The strong connection the brother and sister shared was endearing.

I appreciated how the focus was on the plot, unlike how many young adult fantasy novels focus on the romance. There was a romantic thread, but it wasn't insta-anything. There was a slow-build vibe between Khya and Tessen, which is a trope that always keeps my attention. Khya is blind to the attraction between her and Tessen, more focused on her brother. They had known each other for most of their lives, so there wasn't a scene (like in most YA books) where the new hottie totally makes our heroine lose her focus. No matter how much Khya wanted to be left alone, Tessen maneuvered his way in by being helpful.

The universe created was diverse, with 3 genders and no sexual orientation qualms. I give mad props to the universe the author created, all the time spent researching and maintaining the world-building from start to finish, the ability to write a highly complex novel.

I wasn't the intended audience for this novel. I like to be entertained, to fall into the story and not want to crawl back out until well after the final page. With the way Island of Exiles was written, with the complexity, I couldn't fall into the story without struggling to understand the story. It was like working instead of relaxing. While I can appreciate the hard work and beauty the author injected into the story, it wasn't a pleasure to read.

I do recommend this title, but only if the reader downloads a sample to get a feel of the writing style and world-building. While I can appreciate the story, I won't be reading the sequel.
Profile Image for Maddalena.
379 reviews6 followers
July 14, 2017
3 and 1/2 stars

It’s practically impossible for me to resist a deep desert setting, not since Frank Herbert’s Dune became one of my favorite books, so when I read the first reviews for Island of Exiles I knew it would not be long before I saw for myself what this story had to offer.

Life on the island of Shiara is hard and unforgiving: set in the middle of a turbulent ocean, the island’s climate alternates between periods of intense, searing heat and seasonal storms that can annihilate everything in their path. The city in which the novel is set is an enclave of relative comfort in such a harsh environment, but requires total dedication from its citizens, whose main goal must be the survival of the tribe, even before that of the individual.

Read the full review at SPACE and SORCERY BLOG
Profile Image for Cierra.
181 reviews59 followers
February 18, 2017
Thanks to Entangled Teen for the ARC through NetGalley!

"Heat, dirt, blood, death. Life is made of these things."

This was honestly one of the most original stories I've read in a long time! The world and society Cameron has created here is both intricate and thought provoking. Khya and Tessen have one of the most interesting dynamics I've ever seen and is a refreshing change. I can't wait to find out what happens next!
Profile Image for Lex.
123 reviews29 followers
April 6, 2017
I think I just found my new favourite series. I loved everything about this novel. The characters, the world, the world building, the relationships, the magic, the terminology, THE PLOT TWISTS, the character development. Everything.
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