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The Floating Islands

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,761 ratings  ·  271 reviews
When Trei loses his family in a tragic disaster, he must search out distant relatives in a new land. The Floating Islands are unlike anything Trei has ever seen: stunning, majestic, and graced with kajurai, men who soar the skies with wings.

Trei is instantly sky-mad, and desperate to be a kajurai himself.  The only one who fully understands his passion is Araene, his newfo
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 8th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,761 ratings  ·  271 reviews

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Steph Su
Mar 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, best-of-11
It’s no secret how much I love a good well-written high fantasy, one replete with intricate societal customs, political upheavel, and, of course, magic. So I was delighted when THE FLOATING ISLANDS was exactly what I wanted: a captivating and gorgeously written fantasy world.

I don’t think I have the words to describe why I loved Rachel Neumeier’s writing style so much. It’s not “purple prose-y” in that poetic, whimsical, or heartachingly beautiful way that I like in other books; instead, it’s li
Erica (storybookend)
The Floating Islands is a beautiful, intriguing novel. It swept me away with its magic. This book is lyrical and delicious, soaring with the many layered, tangible winds, and garnished with the flavors of magic, all interwoven into a tale of war, acceptance, finding your destiny, and friendship.

Trei has just lost his home and his family in a tragic volcanic eruption, destroying everything’s he’s known. Rejected by his Tolounn relatives, he sets out to the Floating Islands in hopes that his mothe
Nov 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ah, here's a quality gem. It's so underrated and outside of the known book blogging presence it's quite a shame, really. Many more people should know about these lovely books.

It's got:

Floating islands! Obvious by the title but come on! Isn't awesome!?

Magic! You guys know you love magic.

[image error]
And dragons! I mean, dragons! That's like an instant win! Hello! If that doesn't get you excited than I don't know what will. You clearly are not a fantasy fan. Lmao. (I joke... Or do I?)

But anyway,
The Floating Islands is one of those novels I wasn't quite sure how to rate: I LOVED the setting and story but also found the characters' narrative voices, dialogue, and pacing didn't entirely work for me. It's largely an uplifting, hopeful story (though there is grief and loss, it's more focused on moving forward) about two cousins: Trei, a fourteen-year-old boy forced to leave his homeland to live with his mother's family in the Floating Islands, and Araenè, a girl who sneaks out of the house ...more
Maureen E
Opening: "Trei was fourteen the first time he saw the Floating Islands. He had made the whole long voyage south from Rounn in a haze of loss and misery, not really noticing the harbors in which the ship sometimes anchored or the sea between. But here, where both sea and sky lay pearl-gray in the dawn, the wonder of the Floating Islands broke at last into that haze."

In general, I'm a fan of fantasies with some sort of political component--the Queen's Thief series (obviously), Leah Cypress's Mistw
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

Jessie's Reasons Why *You* Should Read The Floating Islands:

~ magic!
(Of the two novels by this author that I have read so far, she takes pains to create unique, if somewhat similar, systems of magic for her fantasy worlds.)

~ magic dragons - some of wind and some of fire!
(And both kinds are key to the plot of the story AND the backstory of both the main characters Trei and Araenè. Their respective connections to my favorite mythical beast added to the st
Jun 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen, fantasy, boy
Lots of pros and cons to this one. I'm giving it four stars but don't see myself booktalking it. It will appeal only to specific readers, but it will appeal to them very much.

On the pro side: Some wonderful, creative world-building and it's a fantasy world that's not based on Northern Europe. It has a Middle Eastern or South Asian flair to it. The way magic works is intriguing, especially the way doors open for the mages where they need to go. The writing is beautiful, especially the description
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have a three-pronged reaction to seeing The Floating Islands on my shelf.
(1) A sigh of contentment because just look at that cover! It's gorgeous and oh-so fitting for the story within.
(2) A goofy smile because my copy is signed! Also: I think this is the only signed book I own, so a double goofy grin. (If those even exist...)
(3) A large pool of guilt because, no matter how much I try, I simply cannot seem to sit down and write a review for this book.
I've sort of promised myself that I
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
This isn’t a perfect book. But I’ve returned to it at least once a year since I’ve first read it, and I first read it quite a while back; I included it in the 2014 book battle (remember those?!) and it wasn’t new to me then, either. Goodreads says I read this in May 2011. Let’s go with that.

There’s a lot of what I love about the Black Dog series in this book, a lot of what has come to be signature Neumeier YA. Politics, but not just politics - coming of age, but not just coming of age - a certa
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
I picked up The Floating Islands because I was taken in by the magical world on its cover. It turned out to be very representative of the story, as the world is the real strength of the book.

Trei has just arrived at the Floating Islands after his family is killed in a volcanic eruption. He goes to live with his aunt and uncle and his cousin Araenè. He is completely in awe of the islands, and from the moment he sees the island’s kajuraihi (men who fly), he is determined to become one.

Coming from
Nov 04, 2012 rated it liked it
The Floating Islands was an okay read. I would have rather given it 3.5 stars instead of just 3.

1) At times it dragged on. The fantasy elements are lovely and I don't mind a bit of heavier description in my fantasies. It was done a bit too much now and then in this book, causing the action of the story to not really occur until about halfway.

2) Alright characters. I didn't feel a strong connection to the characters, and instead felt like they could have had more `oomph' to who they were. I did e
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-favorites
Definitely my favorite Neumeier book to date. I love her balance of adventure, politics, and magic, with just a dash of romance. It's so easy to fall into this world of floating islands, and flying boys, and dragons. Hopefully I get a full review written, but either way, highly recommended. ...more
Michelle Isenhoff
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this book on a library list of notable middle grade books for 2011, and I loved the cover, so I picked it up. I’m glad I did. It turned out to be one of my favorite adventures of this year.

The book opens with Trei on his way to the Floating Islands. His family has recently been buried in a volcanic eruption and his kin in Tolounn, the country of his birth, have turned him away. So he’s searching out his mother’s brother in the Islands where she was raised. As he draws near, he catches si
J.D. Field
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I completely loved this book. One of the best I've read for months. The world creation is breathtaking in its scope and originality.
I read this book in part because the cover is so eyecatching and in part because of my last vacation when I discovered some
MAGIC ISLANDS of my own...
But even if you didn't have a bit of an island obsession I think you'd love this. Trei is orphaned (and this is complex and beautifully dealt with) and goes to the Floating Islands to stay with his mothers family. The w
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
One Sentence Review: Why have one magical school in a book when you can have two AND a kickin' girl protagonist AND some scenes straight out of an action thriller AND a great standalone read? ...more
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-favorites
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers:

Trei was fourteen the first time he saw the Floating Islands. He had made the whole long voyage south from Rounn in a haze of loss and misery, not really noticing the harbors in which the ship sometimes anchored or the sea between. But here, where both sea and sky lay pearl-gray in the dawn, the wonder of the Floating Islands broke at last into that haze.

After losing his mother, father and elder sister in the
Apr 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I like this better than my rating indicates; it's a lyrical fantasy that somehow handles war almost gently, and has alternating points of view that I both enjoyed. (I got myself through writing peer reviews for work -- a dreadful task indeed -- by rewarding myself with two chapters for each peer review. It wasn't fair to stop at just one chapter, you see.)

The beginning's a bit slow, but Trei comes to the Floating Islands, exactly what they sound like, uplifted by dragon magic. He's an orphan and
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Christie by: Star Book Tours
Shelves: read-in-2011
Trei travels to The Floating Islands to find his mother’s family after his parents and sister are killed. He is immediately captivated by the kajurai who soar in the skies above The Floating Islands. Trei vows to become one. Grief-stricken and submerged in a world so different from where he was raised, he finds an unlikely friend and supporter in his cousin Araene. Araene has her own set of secret aspirations, and seems to feel a sense of relief that her cousin can be trusted. When tragedy strik ...more
Emy Shin
When Trei comes to the Floating Islands to live with his relatives, one of the first things he sees is the kajurai, men with wings who speed through the skies. From that moment on, Trei knows that he must become a kujarai at all costs.

Trei's cousin, Araene, is a girl with a big dream confined to a society where women are neither allowed freedoms nor occupations. Having a talent with cooking and baking, Araene often disguises herself as a boy to take cooking classes -- dreaming of a day when she
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not as great as I'd expected it to be. Great ideas, but I don't think the author really captured them as well as she could have. I didn't find Trei's story to be very interesting... I mean, I like the whole concept of flying with the kajurai, but there were too many characters to keep track off and I could barely tell what was going on! O_o
I really liked Aranae's story though... I like when girls dress up as guys to do what they believe in. (I realize now that sounds a little creepy with the way
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was one of those gems that you pick up because of the amazing cover art and take it home. But i must admit, was a bit of a letdown. I love the idea behind the story, basically; A boy named Trei has traveled to find his cousins home after his family died. His cousins live on chain of floating islands, suspended in the air through dragon magic. Independent of the empire, there are a variety of magical beings on the islands including mages and a a race of people called the kajurai; people ...more
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read a book this good in a long time. It was adventurous and exciting, and the characters were very well-developed and likeable. The world was so beautifully described that I was easily lost in the story. I never got bored with the plot and I actually didn't mind the switches in point-of-view (which usually annoys me). The ending was wonderful and I was very happy with the book as a whole. The only complaint that I have is that the names were somewhat hard to pronounce (even in my head ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Rachel Neumeier seems to have the enviable knack of effectively working through her characters' grief, fear and doubts. The story in this book doesn't move swiftly, but in many ways that's an advantage, since it gives readers time to become well acquainted with how the main characters'minds work. It's well worth the effort. ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I wish I had better things to say about The Floating Islands, but I don't. Chapter 1 dumps the Reader right in the middle of the story, waiting until Chapter 3 to explain anything at all. Good luck trying to figure out which country is which, or who is who. The names of places and people are just thrown at you, and to make them more confusing, they almost all have an "ei" or "ai" ending, and there is no pronunciation guide in the back. So you'll spend over half your time slurring through everyon ...more
Cloie Rainilla
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This one was great!

I haven't read any books similiar to it and it's uniqueness was like a breath of fresh air. I also enjoyed the fact that this was a stand alone and not a trilogy or something. The alternating voices between the two main characters was also refreshing and I liked them very much. I won't explain about the book because I don't want to give anything away. :)

Definitely recommend it! 4.5 stars. <3
Brandy Painter
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Originally posted here.

The Floating Islands is the story of both Trei and Araene, told in third person limited, going back and forth between them with each chapter. Both Trei and Araene are strong protagonists and each is in a position that raises interesting questions and problems. Through Trei we are told the story of a boy of mixed nationality, not completely one or the other, never truly belonging. His story is about loyalty and the struggle of continuously feeling the need to prove oneself.
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
After a freak volcanic eruption kills his entire family, Trei must leave his homeland to go and live with his aunt and uncle on the floating island called Milendri. "Floating Island" is not a redundant term - the islands actually float high in the sky, kept aloft by the magic of the sky dragons and guarded by the kajuraihi, the men who wear wings and fly. When Trei sees one of these men on his journey to Milendri, he is immediately entranced and swears to himself that he will become one.
Trei is
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens, ya
Look, if you want to write an omniscient novel, write from an omniscient point of view! Don’t give us long, somewhat telepathic descriptions of what a 14-year boy can interpret from a person’s facial expression. We’re not even dealing with deductive genius like Sherlock Holmes here.

I had such high hopes for this book. The setting (and some magical concepts) are creative and both exotic and wondrous. But it was seriously lacking in other areas.

I won't go into everything, but practically speaking
Hibah Hassan
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She n

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