The Skylighter by Becky Wallace
Book Two of the Keepers' Chronicles
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Johanna and Rafi are in a race against time to save their country before a power-mad Keeper destroys everything they hold dear in the “enthralling magical world” (Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles) introduced in The Storyspinner.
As the last of the royal line, Johanna is the only person who can heal a magical breach in the wall that separates her kingdom of Santarem from the land of the Keepers, legendary men and women who wield elemental magic. The barrier protects Santarem from those Keepers who might try to take power over mere humans…Keepers who are determined to stop Johanna and seize the wall’s power for themselves.
And they’re not the only ones. As the duchys of Santarem descend into war over the throne, Johanna relies more than ever on the advice of her handsome companion, Lord Rafael DeSilva. But Rafi is a duke too, and his people come first. As their friendship progresses into the beginnings of a tender relationship, Johanna must wonder: is Rafi looking out for her happiness, or does he want the throne for himself?
With war on the horizon, Johanna and Rafi dodge treacherous dukes and Keeper assassins as they race to through the countryside, determined to strengthen the wall before it’s too late…even if it means sacrificing their happiness for the sake of their world.
What I Liked:
No one get mad at me, please! I know three stars isn't looking too positive up there, but remember, out of five, three is more than half! And in this case, this is a positive three-star rating. I think my issues with this book were more on me than anything.
It all comes down to Johanna and Rafi, in this heart-stopping conclusion to the Keepers' Chronicles duology. Dukes, mages, and Keepers are all after Johanna, trying to stop the heir of the throne from reaching the barrier and healing the magical breach. Johanna wants to heal the breach but she doesn't want to accept the throne. Rafi wants to do right by his dukedom and help his people. But sacrifices must be made, and the pair must decide their fate, and the fate of Santarem.
As far as conclusion novels go, this one wasn't bad. I think a lot of people weren't expecting this series to end after only two books, but I'm really happy about the series being a duology. Less painful waiting! And this book wraps up really nicely, no loose ends or unanswered questions.
There are soooo many POVs in this book. It's all in third person, but we get chapters in the points-of-view of Johanna, Rafi, Pira, Leão, Jacaré, and a new one - Dom (Rafi's slightly younger brother). I liked the multiple POVs in The Storyspinner, and I think they are still a huge benefit to the story. Each and every one of those six characters played a huge role in the story, and affected the big showdown in different ways. I will say though, I got seriously annoyed when something terrible happened in the POV of one character, and then a new chapter starts in the POV of a different character who is elsewhere. So frustrating for the scene to be broken up! But in general, the multiple POVs served a good purpose.
I love watching Johanna grow, and Rafi too. All six characters mature to some capacity, but it's Johanna and Rafi that have to make the tough decisions, both together, and separately. I wish they had more page time together, when they weren't bickering or stoutly ignoring each other or being drawn apart. But some scenes with the two of them were special!
I think I liked Dom's side of the story the best. He goes through so much in this book! His story made the most sense and flowed the best. I loved how much his character developed and changed. Definitely a good move by Wallace, in adding him to the POVs of this book!
Like I said, I really liked how the story wrapped up. Almost everyone gets a satisfying ending, with the exception of a few characters. But we could see the ending for a certain few characters, and it wasn't a painful thing. Overall, I walk away from this series with a positive feeling, though the series went downhill just a bit, in terms of my ratings.
What I Did Not Like:
I think the biggest thing, for me, was the distinct feeling of MEH. I couldn't get into this book. The magic of The Storyspinner did appear to me, in The Skylighter. For some reason, this book just didn't pull me in. I started skimming this book early on, quickly flipping pages. And honestly, that really worked for me. I don't think I missed major (or even minor) details at all, while skimming.
I'd seen so many positive, glowing reviews for this book on Goodreads, and so I kept waiting for this book to pick up. I almost don't want to say that it was boring but... I was never sucked in. This book never captured my full attention. I held onto hope that it would get better, and I reminded myself that I LOVED The Storyspinner, but I really wanted to drop this book early, and forget I ever tried to read it. Which makes me sad, because I rarely experience that feeling!
So the overwhelming "meh" feeling got to me. The book overall was good, it did its job as a conclusion novel, but it really wasn't anything special.
One thing that bothered me specifically was Johanna's irritation when people tried to help her or protect her. I'm not sure who she thinks she is, but the last time I checked, she wasn't skilled in combat or sword-fighting or battle tactics. Sooo... tell me why she keeps telling everyone she can take care of herself (and then PROMPTLY gets herself into some mess)? I HATE this! It's okay to NOT be a kickbutt girl, especially in YA fantasy! Trust me, you're not breaking the rules of feminism, or something! It seemed like Wallace was trying to force Johanna to be a "bada**" character, by making her get mad at Rafi for trying to stand by her side in protection, which is silly. If I'm walking through a market of big, burly men, heck YES I want someone protecting me! I'm not stupid! It's stupid of Johanna to think she can protect herself against the LEGIONS hunting her. Especially given her lacks of skills.
Small thing though. Something else that bothered me - the romance. It wasn't as smooth as I would have hoped. I really struggled with the romance of this book. It seemed like at every turn, Johanna was lusting after Rafi and then pushing him away. I was getting whiplash. And Johanna gets Rafi into all sorts of danger - never does she own up and apologize. Very badly done, Johanna.
I do think that Johanna grows up by the end of the book, but little things about her pissed me off. She was so quick to anger, at nearly everything Rafi said, especially in the beginning of the book. It's like those trolls of the Internet - someone ALWAYS has to get offended at something. Ha.
One last thing - I thought the multiple POVs of this book (and series) was a great thing, and contributed well to the story. But there were three or four distinct occasions when I nearly launched this book at a wall in frustration, because the scene was broken up, because the chapter ended, and a different person was narrating the next chapter. Like, for example, Johanna gets swallowed by a dragon and the chapter abruptly ends, but the next chapter starts with Dom in Santiago chilling in a harem. (Neither of those two things happened.) Continue the perilous scene! Who cares about Dom and his harem! Ahhh! I know this technique is employed often when dealing with multiple POVs and multiple characters in different places, but it annoyed me several times in this book. So frustrating to be reading a really intense scene and then it cuts off and goes to a different one!
But again, mostly, it was the fact that I was feeling meh and bored and had to skim most of this book to finish, that dropped the rating.
Would I Recommend It:
Of course I'm going to recommend this book if you've read The Storyspinner. Definitely experience this conclusion novel for yourself, because my complaints could be nothing you would even think about if you read it, possibly. Believe it or not, I'm feeling positive towards this book, and annoyed at myself that I didn't like it more. The smaller complaints that I had, I could have ignored, and given this book four stars. But skimming a book and feeling bored? The highest the book will get is three stars, sadly.
3 stars. I almost want to say 2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars, but I think I liked this book overall. I think. I know I WANTED to love this book, but it didn't impress me and I felt a bit let down. BUT check out the number of super positive reviews on Goodreads! So many ones calling this book epic and whatnot. Don't mind me!
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