Out of the Blue is an example of awesome premise and mediocre execution. I mean, it’s a story about fallen angels in Edinburgh with a romance between a biracial Sri Lankan girl and a girl with cystic fibrosis. I thought I was going to love it, but this book just didn’t manage to hold my interest. I can’t even point out one thing that didn’t work for me – there are too many. Most of them are minor, and they wouldn’t make me dislike a book by themselves, but together?
The writing style was both juvenile – the characters felt a lot younger than they were supposed to be, I almost felt like I was reading middle grade – and emotionless, the characters lacked depth and development, and there was no sense of setting or atmosphere. I think the best word I could use to describe Out of the Blue is “lacking”: it’s very short, and yet it’s boring; it has an awesome premise, but it made me feel nothing; it had a romance, but its development was barely there (and what was there felt fake).
It’s not even a bad book, it’s just so flat and forgettable I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.
My rating: ★★
Empire of Sand is a slow-paced desert fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the Mughal Empire.
As I had never read a book inspired by this part of India’s history, and as I usually love slow, atmospheric fantasy, I thought I would at least like Empire of Sand, but it just didn’t work for me. After loving the first 20% of it, in which a magical world with an unique magic system inspired by Indian classical dance and complex history was introduced, I started liking this book less and less, because of the pacing.
From around 25% of the book to at least 65%, the main character Mehr is trapped in an unwanted (at least at the beginning) arranged marriage, in a place in which she’s forced to perform magical rituals that hurt her, and in which there’s the constant threat that she will be forced to have sex with a person she doesn’t want to have sex with. The situation doesn’t change much, I found all of it very difficult to read, and then I couldn’t anymore. Maybe it wouldn’t have affected me so much had I not read Girls of Paper and Fire just a few days ago, another fantasy book (which I loved) in which the main character is constantly under the threat of sexual assault. I don’t know, I just know that I need to step back from this kind of fantasy stories for a while.
I put off DNFing this book and writing this review even though I knew for a few days that I wasn’t going to continue – when you notice you’d rather do homework than read a book there’s something wrong – because I really didn’t want to write a bad review of this. I loved the beginning and the world is genuinely interesting. I also think that fantasy book that follow non-western history and that show women who are strong in a different way than the average fantasy are really important, but I just couldn’t get through the middle of this.
My rating: ★★½