I think all of us have had dreams where we could fly. I know I remember mine vividly. The feeling of weightlessness, the soaring sensation in my stomach, and the bird’s eye view of the tiny towns below. Who hasn’t fantasized about being able to fly away?
In Rachel Neumeier’s The Floating Islands, recently orphaned Trei comes to the islands to live with his uncle’s family. On the way he spots kajuraihi in the sky–winged island warriors with the power to fly. Instantly, he is “sky mad.” All he thinks about is flying and will stop at nothing to be accepted into the academy that will teach him this skill.
His cousin Araene also has dreams of her own. Her culinary prowess is a gift and a curse. All she dreams about it becoming a chef for the royal family or the university. Unfortunately, since she’s a girl, all she can hope for is to marry well and impress her in-laws with her skills.
But unbeknownst to the two preteens, tragedy about to strike their home and their island. A neighboring kingdom–Trei’s homeland of Tolounn–is attacking and looking to make the floating islands into a new territory.
Will Trei choose the land of his birth, or where he feels most at home? Will Araene use her gifts or throw them away?
While all of this sounds like it gears up to a great story, I have to admit I felt it was a little crestfallen. The description of the island would make for awesome movie visuals, but Neumeier seemed to forget to throw much dialogue into the mix. I felt like she was telling me what was happening, rather than depicting it using the characters’ interactions with each other. The result: an awesome idea turned lackluster.
You’d think a book with flying men, a cross-dressing girl, dragons, and magic would be exciting… But no.
There were no unforeseen twists and turns in the plot, and I was mildly bored throughout the whole thing. Honestly, the cover is the most interesting feature of the whole book. Oh, and forget trying to pronounce nearly any name ever mentioned. I found my eyes just glossing over the indecipherable 15-vowel words…
2 magic spheres of 5