Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Title: Sea of Shadows
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Horror
Release Date: 8 April, 2014
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss. Thank you!

Average Goodreads rating: 3.64 out of 5.00 (180+ ratings)
Goodreads | The Reading Room

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

Review by Nara

Much like many of Kelley Armstrong's other YA novels, Sea of Shadows is a very quick and fun read with a relatively simple storyline. While I must admit that it didn't really seem to be anything fresh or overly engaging, it was definitely still an interesting read that I'd probably recommend to people who don't tend to read high fantasy novels.

The romances were pretty bland. I mean, I gotta be honest, I still shipped both of them, but it didn't feel like there was that much relationship development before, BAM, romance. It was fairly obvious from the start where the romance was going to go (seriously, if you can't see it, you need to get your eyes checked haha) with each of the twins paired off the Gavril (a resident/guard of the village) and Ronan (one of the criminals exiled to the village). I think another reason why I found the romances bland was that the love interests just weren't that great to read about. Gavril was so boring, and made things difficult to ship. Ronan was marginally more interesting, but still seemed to be one of those stereotypical semi-bad boy types. Meh.

The horror aspect of the plot was probably the best aspect. Armstrong definitely knows how to ramp up the tension, and from the very start of the book, you're thrown into this dangerous world where the action happens at a very fast pace and the suspense keeps you on your toes. And okay, the twist at the end was pretty unexpected. So kudos to Armstrong for that one.

I'm a bit iffy about the genre of this book. It does mostly fall under high fantasy rather than paranormal fantasy (as a lot of people appear to have shelved it) due to the imaginary setting, but there was, quite unfortunately, a definite lack of world building. I probably would have rated this book much higher had the world building been of the standard that I expect in a YA high fantasy, but alas, it was not to be. It doesn't really seem like it'll be explored in the next books either. Sigh.

The book does end on a cliffhanger, but it's not an "OH MY GOD I MUST FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT" cliffhanger. It's more of a "okay. I'll read the next book eventually" cliffhanger. Maybe that was just me though. I must admit I don't feel particularly invested in this series. I would have liked to have certain aspects of the plot explored further, and I can only hope that these explorations will occur in the sequel.

p.s. every time I saw the name Moria all I could hear was THE MINES OF MORIA in Gimli's accent haha

Liked it

Overall: 7/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 2/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5