Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier

Title: The Floating Islands 

Author: Rachel Neumeier

Rating: 4 Stars

I have a three-pronged reaction to seeing The Floating Islands on my shelf.

(1) A sigh of contentment because just look at that cover! It's gorgeous and oh-so fitting for the story within.

(2) A goofy smile because my copy is signed! Also: I think this is the only signed book I own, so a double goofy grin. (If those even exist...)


(3) A large pool of guilt because, no matter how much I try, I simply cannot seem to sit down and write a review for this book.

I've sort of promised myself that I am - under no circumstances - allowed to read another Neumeier book until I review the last book of hers I read; otherwise I'd just inhale all her books over a weekend. (Yes, they're just that good.)

When I read Neumeier's House of Shadows last year, I was struck by the strange sensation that Neumeier was not merely writing for an audience of fantasy lovers, she was writing for me. Which, obviously, is not true, but her books, nevertheless, contain all the perfect ingredients that I yearn for. With Neumeier, you are guaranteed to get three things, all done to perfection.

(1) Character Development
(2) Political Intrigue
(3) World Building

(NOT necessarily in that order, mind you!)

From the beginning itself, I was captivated by the three-dimensional quality of her characters. The Floating Islands shifts between the perspectives of Trei, an orphan who arrives at the Floating Islands to stay with his uncle, and Araene, his cousin who, as a girl, has a very limited amount of freedom. With this set-up, not only do we delve into the mind of these two protagonists - their dreams, hopes, and fears - but we also grow to understand the world around them. Trei cannot help but compare the Floating Islands to his homeland in the North and similarly, Araene cannot help but yearn to be a boy in her land instead of a girl. When Araene, notorious for sneaking out of her home as a boy, discovers a hidden school of magic and Trei, an outsider to the Floating Islands, is filled with an ambition to become a kajurai, one of the messengers of the realm who learn to fly, a tale of political intrigue is swiftly uncovered as are...dragons!

I wish I could wax poetry about this book, but I think I'll stick to sentences for the sake of all our sanities. Quite simply put, this book is brilliant. Trei and Araene grow to have a close bond of kinship - a pleasant change from the usual romances - and the focus of the plot never leaves the tense political situation at hand. Furthermore, the plot threads of Trei and Araene's life come together beautifully, all with a burst of emotion too as both these protagonists suffer greatly throughout the novel. While their adventures will keep you on the edge of your seat, their experiences will touch your heart.

What Neumeier does so well is build, not only her world (seamlessly), but also the relationships between her secondary characters. Both Trei and Araene grow to find their places in the world, both of their own accord and with the help of the new friends they make. I love that with Neumeier, nothing is truly sacrificed in her novels. Trei, who struggles to find a place to call home, and Araene, who is so uncomfortable in her own skin and what it dictates she can and cannot do in her own homeland, grow to find themselves gradually as the novel progresses. Furthermore, though, the secondary characters in this book are just as fleshed-out, integral to both the plot and the character growth. Neumeier is a true storyteller and tales are like one big puzzle piece, just waiting to be put together into such an incredible package.

The Floating Islands lacks for nothing. It has dragons in it - everyone's favorite mythological creature - politics, and, best of all, two protagonists to get behind. I already know I'll be re-reading this one, multiple times, in the future and I'm sure that each time, I'll discover something new to love about this. Is it my favorite Neumeier? Quite happily, I can't decide yet. After all, I still have so many of her books left to read - and I hope it stays that way for awhile. When I need a book to just get me, I know where to look: Rachel Neumeier.


  1. Wow, your passion makes me want to run out and get it. Of course the cover alone makes it worth having. Nice review.

  2. Ian Somerhalder has finally responded to rumors that he's a favorite to play Christian Grey role.
    Christian Grey

  3. I have never heard of this book or author before but I'll stay on your blog a bit longer just to stare at that cover! it's really beautiful.
    Anyhow I'm so glad you finished the book because now I know that I have to read it somehow. It sounds like a great and unique story and I love the sound of characters. Amazing review Keertana :)

  4. Keertana seriously you have done an awesome job reviewing this book. I usually find books that I adore really hard to review too, but just how much you loved this book comes across very clearly in your awesome review. I think I may have to check out this book one day because the world building and characters sound great!

  5. Okay, I am completely sold! I don't know why I haven't ever come across this before, as it sounds EXACTLY like my sort of read. And dragons, too? Yep, I am so going to have to get my hands on this one day. Lovely review, hon! :)

  6. I've wondered about this one for a long time, Keertana. I always seemed to shove it on the backburner simply because none of my favourite bloggers have reviewed it before. Now that you have though, I'm definitely intrigued, especially because if the extreme strength in terms of world-building and character-building. Wonderful review, Keertana :)

  7. DRAGONS KEERTANA! Yes. That's all I need to know about this one really. Well, and it has a beautiful cover which was enough to sell me on it because I'm that shallow, but the mention of dragons and a pair of spectacular protagonists and I'm off to Amazon to grab this one:)

  8. What a shame. I haven't heard of this author before, Keertana. So, this is the first I'm learning about this book! It sounds so magical, intriguing, and full of unforgettable moments. I truly want to immerse myself in this world and invest my time in these characters. Beautiful review! I look forward to reading The Floating Islands someday soon. :)

    Plus, the dragons! Double the plus, the COVER!!!

  9. If your beautiful review for her works didn't get to me... the mention of dragons did! :D It is such a great book that makes you feel as if it was written for you. So going to have to check out her books. I have them on the wishlist and so need to move them up!

  10. I really need to start one of Neumeier's books at some point! I have the Griffin Mage trilogy as an ebook on my Kindle, so perhaps that's the one I'll start with. Character development, political intrigue, and world building are the three most important aspects to me as a reader and writer of fantasy. Seeing you explicitly point out those three qualities has made me super excited to start reading Neumeier's works. I can only hope that I'll end up loving them as much as you do. :)

  11. Isn't it the best thing ever when you discover an author that seems to be writing for you? A fantastic mind meld. Clearly my big flaw is that I have not read anything by Neumeier yet. Is this a standalone? AKA is it related to HOUSE OF SHADOWS? If they are separate, which would you recommend I start with? ALSO, I'm wondering why this most brilliant book only got a 4 from you? Just curious, since I know you are careful of your ratings. But anyway, thanks for getting my interest up in this book, friend.

  12. Wow, this sounds AMAZING, Keertana. I've never heard of this book or this author, but floating islands? Lovely characters? DRAGONS? I am so there!

    I know what you mean about not being able to find the words for a review, too. I have a couple of books I just love but have never gotten around to reviewing, and I've been thinking about doing mini reviews for all. But again...SOME words are necessary for that, too. Hah.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  13. I haven't heard of this book before now, it sounds really interesting. Although, its not something I would normally read but the sound of the characters, the world building and just about everything is amazing. I really can't wait to experience it! And yes please!!! :D I'm glad you enjoyed this Keertana! Great review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 


I love hearing from my readers and I read, reply, and appreciate every one of the comments I receive!(: If you're a fellow blogger, please leave a link to your blog - I'd love to drop by!

Unfortunately, this is now an award-free blog. I simply do not have the time to respond and forward on the award, but I truly appreciate the nomination regardless.