Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Continent by Keira Drake

Title: The Continent
Author: Keira Drake
Genre: High Fantasy
Source: Harlequin

For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire—a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two nations remain perpetually locked in combat. Most citizens lucky enough to tour the Continent do so to observe the spectacle and violence of battle, a thing long vanished in the peaceful realm of the Spire. For Vaela, the war holds little interest. As a smart and talented apprentice cartographer and a descendent of the Continent herself, she sees the journey as a dream come true: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land.

But Vaela’s dream all too quickly turns to nightmare as the journey brings her face-to-face with the brutal reality of a war she’s only read about. Observing from the safety of a heli-plane, Vaela is forever changed by the sight of the bloody battle being waged far beneath her. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, Vaela finds herself much closer to danger than she’d ever imagined—and with an entirely new perspective as to what war truly means. Starving, alone, and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home—but first, she must survive.
Review by Nara

I was tossing up between a "liked it" rating and an "it was okay" rating because there are a LOT of negatives about the book, but overall I think I did enjoy it. I thought to myself, would I read the sequel? And the answer to that is probably yes, at some point- so I bumped it up to the "liked it".

If you aren't aware, The Continent's publishing date was pushed back from the original date because of a lot of controversy about the way the fictional races portrayed resembled real races i.e. Native American, English, Japanese. I'm not sure how much was changed from the original as I never read it, but to be honest, looking at the negative reviews coming up on the front page of its Goodreads page, it looks like not much? The things that were brought up in those reviews seem to still be there. I suppose it's a bit difficult to overturn the basic premise of the novel.

I did like the overall concept of the novel where you're able to "tour" a nation very different from your own, but the execution was not so good. It's a bit odd, I can't really put my finger on any standout positives about the novel, but I feel like I did enjoy it overall. It's a bit like The Selection, I guess. I would never read that series again, but for some reason did enjoy it while I was reading it.

To give a quick list of those negatives in dot point form:
- the book is extremely predictable apart from maybe one or two events which didn't really end up shocking me because I didn't care too much about the particular characters it involved
- the romance is rather sappy and doesn't feel well developed (did end up being cute at times though)
- side characters stereotypical and also not that well developed, except maybe Keiji, the love interest's younger brother
- Vaela was pretty naive about some things, one in particular that I can remember was how she thought the Aven'ei should get toilets, but then of course had no idea how they worked or how to set it up and was basically a bit entitled- and this was never really addressed in the rest of the novel, she was just like "oh I actually don't know how they work, never mind then!"
- the start was really slow, I was literally just waiting and waiting for the plane to crash and for her to land on the island
- there were a ridiculous number of death flags at the start of the novel, like plz make your foreshadowing more subtle

So overall, would I recommend this novel? Maybe...........but probably not.

Liked it
Overall: 4/10
Plot: 2.5/5
Romance: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
World Building: 2/5
Characters: 2.5/5
Cover: 3/5