Air Awakens by Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens
Published: 2015 by Silver Wing Press
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy
When I first read the description for Air Awakens, I freaked. I mean come on, the main character is a library apprentice. Library apprentice! That’s like my dream job right there, so hell yeah, my excitement level’s going to go through the roof! It helps that I got an Akagami no Shirayukihime [赤髪の白雪姫 (Snow White with the Red Hair)] from this book too.
However, does this book meet the standards the hype around it has set? That, is the question—and I will name my number one issue with this book: the tenses, the metaphors and the syntax. I found a lot of the sentences (including dialogue) weird/awkward and because of this, I just couldn’t read more than a few pages in one sitting. At some places, the metaphors felt overused—like there’s two cramped in one sentence. At other places, I had to stop because my Inner Editor reared its head due to either questioning the choice of tenses, inconsistencies in the usage of elisions, the large amounts of repetition, or that one sentence could be better worded so it’d flow smoother. And by the Sun, the dialogue tags are horrendous. If I gave this book to all of my lecturers to read, they’d rip this book into tinier pieces than I’m currently doing. Gods.
Other than that, Vhalla is certainly not my kind of heroine. In the beginning, she’s foolish, stubborn and childish, showing none of the intelligence mentioned at all (there’s tiny glimpses as the book progresses, but no, still not intelligent). Fearing sorcerers simply because she was brought up that way isn’t a legitimate excuse since she has read so much as a library apprentice, and also lived outside and inside of the castle (which means she has different views and has experienced different hardships). Additionally, she is both thorough in research and dedicated in expanding her sphere of comprehension. So, how in the world does someone like that be so close-minded? Inexperienced, yes. Close-minded? No. Oh, she’s also a hypocrite too.
(It’s also ironic that one of the princes is also a sorcerer but just about everyone’s terrified of sorcerers too. Like what? Dude, your possible future ruler is a bloody sorcerer. There are sorcerers fighting in a war alongside you. Shouldn’t you be less terrified? Rolling my eyes three hundred and sixty degrees here)
Furthermore, while I was in the midst of reading about her exchanging letter with “her Phantom” (whose identity I guessed correctly from the very beginning, it was too obvious), I couldn’t help but grow more frustrated and annoyed. For one, I never liked learning more about a world through something so…so…impersonal! Gradually learning alongside a character through the means of explorations and gaining experience is the best type of world-building so the letter were very much an info-dump for me. Plus, the pacing of the story didn’t help either. Sometimes everything just moved too fast and other times, boringly-slow.
For two, what idiocy! Vhalla initially reacted with anger towards the Phantom seeming mocking her, but all of a sudden (or so it feels to me), she views him as a tutor—a challenge who prompts her to ‘gain more knowledge’. Let’s not forget the fact that Vhalla is also one of those ‘special heroines’ as well because ‘The One’ can simply never be someone who has the same gifts as the rest of the common folk. With that said, I didn’t manage to connect to Vhalla as a person either—her personality differs greatly from the one I have at my current age. Even so, I acknowledge that characters have to grow, especially for those involved in a series and because this is a series, I can accept how terrible Vhalla is as a character in this one. I do like her a miniscule better by the end of the book but thanks to the temper tantrums, nope, still not my cup of tea.
On the topic of characters and characterization, the other characters are a mess—a complete and utter jumbled-up bundle of stereotypical messes. They are so flat, an airplane can take off of them with no issues whatsoever. If the writer’s trying to emulate anime characters here, then Kova is doing it wrong. The reason why anime characters are so acceptable despite the inconsistencies in personalities and such is because they can be seen and heard. Manga and anime shows require different forms of storytelling because they are platforms that rely on art to carry across messages. A manga/anime can simply be only artwork and a bunch of sound effects, and it will still get the story across. The character development for them can also be superb through that method. Therefore, to emulate such characters the exact way they are done in manga and anime, in a novel will not have the same effect.
Also, as both a fellow anime/manga fan and a bibliophile, the plot line had little ounces of freshness (one of which is Vhalla being a library apprentice). I mentioned one anime above, and I can name several more (and a cartoon) from the top of my head that this book reminds me of: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fairy Tail (you know, the part where Ur trained kid!Gray and said that to control the cold, he has to be one with it?), Norn9, Neo Angelique ~Abyss~ and practically almost every single fantasy otome game-turned-anime. And the love rectangle. Oh Gods, really, must there be that love rectangle here? You know, the one that has zilch to do with moving the plot forward? The one that takes over actual plot building and proper world-building? The one that’s actually more of an attempt to make Plain (but actually gorgeous and actually OP) Jane more wanted than supposedly unwanted because she’s Plain Jane? Well, you’ll be more familiar with it as a love triangle but here, it’s a rectangle.
All in all, I’m rather disappointed by this book. It’s not the worse one I’ve read so far this year but the hype had made me even more excited for it than I was, and I guess I had set my standards way too high by then…Nevertheless, I’m incredibly grateful to the author for sending me an ebook copy of Air Awakens as part of the Crystal Tour. I may have gotten off on the wrong foot with this one, but I’ll continue to be hopeful about this series, because hey, the other books have to be better, right?
About The Author
Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she s not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).