The Floating Islands

By Rachel Neumeier

From Goodreads: 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 newfound cousin.  Prickly, sarcastic, and gifted, Araene has a secret of her own . . . a dream a girl cannot attain. Trei and Araene quickly become conspirators as they pursue their individual paths.  But neither suspects that their lives will be deeply entwined, and that the fate of the Floating Islands will lie in their hands. . . .

Why it’s my type: I think it’s safe to admit that I picked this one up almost entirely because of its swoon-worthy cover. But beyond that, I’m happy to write, this is a dense read filled with lots of luscious imagery and a deftly drawn world. Now, sometimes this worked against it, I think, in that I was occasionally lost for a while with a new term, or a group of recently introduced characters–with terribly difficult-to-pronounce names. But overall, it was a finely built world: one in which you could pretty easily sink into. It was a feast for my imagination’s eyes.

Standout Script: “There were a dozen of them–no, Trei saw as they approached: fourteen. Fifteen. They flew as geese fly in the fall, in a formation like a spear point. At first the shape the winged men made was stark as a rune against an empty sky, but as they approached the ship, they broke their formation, wheeled, and circled low. The morning light caught in the feathers of their glorious wings, crimson as blood, except for one man whose wings were black as grief.”

“A half-glimpsed wing, indistinct as mist, shifted across her vision. Once she discovered the wing, as though the immense size and odd shape of it taught her to understand the rest of what she saw, she made out the outlines of a long, graceful head, transparent as glass, and the elegant curve of the neck that arched higher than the head. Light slid, gleaming, through an opalescent eye larger than Araene’s whole head.”

Recommendation: This is definitely more a writing- as opposed to plot-driven novel. It sometimes moves slower than I had hoped, and, I think the average teen may be looking for. Even so, for those willing to give it a shot, the beautiful language, imagery, and world created make it well worth the ride to me.

Published: 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers.

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