This is a spoiler-free review. Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron is a beautiful young adult fantasy following the adventure of Khya as she works to save her brother. The stakes are high from start to finish and is likely to keep any reader engaged. The world is vivid and diverse, and I was immediately drawn into it.
I received this eARC (advanced reader’s copy) of Island of Exiles through NetGalley, thanks to Entangled Publishing / Entangled Teen. All thoughts and opinions are my own!
Life on the desert island of Shiara has never been easy, even within the protected city of Itagami. There’s an intricate system of ranks for the citizens, and Khya has always hoped to join the council, the second highest spot within the clan, along with her brother Yorri.
When Yorri’s life is put at risk, she must risk everything she’s ever known to save him. The world she thought she knew is quickly turned upside down and the one’s she had always been taught to trust might not be as trustworthy as she had thought. She quickly realizes it’s not only her brother’s life at risk, but the entirety of Shiara.
Tessen has always chased Khya, and she’s forced to allow him to help her save her home and brother. In order to set things right, they must put their lives on the line. Together, they team up in this diverse fantasy to save her brother and their world.
Wow, where do I even begin? This was an exciting read from start to finish. It’s hard to put into words how much I absolutely loved this book. I’m already stoked for the sequel, Sea of Strangers.
This story is wonderfully diverse. Different sexualities are accepted, and there’s three different genders (along with their own pronouns), which was pleasant to read. The characters have great depth. Khya, the protagonist, is strong-willed and determined, but her soft side is shown. Tessen is also determined, but he knows when to back off.
The world is also fantastic! Exploring Shiara and Itagami was so interesting. Erica Cameron wonderfully built a civilization that felt entirely real. There are different classes for each citizen, and each of these classes are so well thought out! The magic is beautiful and the explanations are wonderful – an example is Khya is in the rank “nyshin” and is known as a “fykina” mage, which means she can create barriers to protect herself and others from magical and physical assaults. While these terms might seem difficult to grasp at first, they’re so woven into the story that they easily catch on. If you’re wanting to read something that has tons of layers to pull you in, this is definitely something I can recommend.
Throughout the book we are aware of the stakes. At the very beginning, the stakes are made known — this is not an easy world to live in. When Khya must risk her life, the stakes become even higher. I gripped the edges of my pages (well, er, tablet) as I read because I had to know what would happen next!
There was also romance! Ah, my heart! Reading Khya and Tessen was such a treat! The romance wasn’t immediate, which is something I love. I was able to read Khya develop her feelings. They bantered a lot and tested each other, and that was also wonderful. The romance didn’t feel forced, either. It was great!
A wonderfully diverse YA fantasy that had me yearning for more at every page turn. There was fantastic world building an amazing sense of the stakes throughout the novel.
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy
RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2017