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jenryland

jenryland

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy) - Sherry Thomas This had its ups and downs for me...The story world is fun and interesting -- one where magical people and events exist alongside a non-magical world, like the world of Harry Potter. The human part of the world seems to be in the Victorian Age, so the book had a historical fiction + fantasy vibe that I liked. I wished that the connection between the magical world and the human world had been better clearer.There were some scenes that were really well-done and memorable -- in particular, one in which Iolanthe is transformed while Titus is in danger.As I started the book, it had a sort of sweet, didactic I'm-going-to-tell-you-a-story tone that, along with the omniscient narration, made it feel to me like middle grade. (Okay, okay. I know that not all YA needs to be edgy or told in first person present, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that this book was meant to be middle grade. Some readers have compared it in feel to Harry Potter, and I can see the parallels. So, okay, it read to me like upper middle grade with crossover potential.)The book begins with Iolanthe being discovered as a great elemental mage. That sounds awesome, but poor Iolanthe then spends most of the rest of the book in hiding/in the middle of an overlong training sequence. I wished that she'd been given more exciting stuff to do than hide by disguising herself as a boy. I also wished that the characters' feelings hadn't been so spelled out for me. We're told stuff like "She never wanted to feel sympathy for him. But she did" or "the sharp feeling in his heart was not concern but a stab of envy" or "She turned around ... willing herself to feel no sympathy for him. And not succeeding."Iolanthe is cast as a reluctant hero, which is fine, but I laughed when Iolanthe said: in the books she'd cherished as a child, this was the moment the protagonist rose to the occasion and embarked on the legendary journey. No one in the stories ever said, 'Thank you but no thank you, this really isn't for me." Clearly Iolanthe hasn't read those breakdowns of the hero's journey, in which "refusal of the call" is step three.None of these things spoiled my reading experience, as I did find this an engaging read. But I guess that I prefer my YA fantasy a little darker and more complex. Though it wasn't a perfect fit for me, I can see that a lot of people have really loved it, so you should definitely give it a try!