Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
Book One of the Ivory and Bone series
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.
Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.
As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.
What I Liked:
One-line review: I can see the appeal, but this book is massively over-hyped.
In my circles of the book blogosphere, this book is one of those debut novels that you keep hearing about, left and right, especially as the publication date draws closer. It sounds really great and unique - prehistoric fiction? Yes please! I don't think I've read a single YA book that deals with prehistoric times. We're talking mammoths and hunters and gatherers, yo. I think, overall, I enjoyed this book, but I was expecting more.
This book is told from Kol's POV. Kol is the eldest son of the High Elder of his tribe. When two sisters and a brother arrive at Kol's tribe, things begin to change. Mya, one of the sisters, captures Kol's attention, but Mya is rude and aloof and doesn't give him the time of the day. But Kol's tribe has a distinct lack of young females, and they need an alliance with their former allies (Mya's tribe). Five years ago, the two tribes parted ways violently, and five years later, the past has not been forgotten. Lo, the daughter of the High Elder of another neighboring tribe, arrives as a guest at Kol's tribe. Something is off between the two visiting tribes, and what Kol finds out is nothing he expected. What's for certain - war is coming, and it will be right in Kol's home.
This book is written in Kol's POV, but it's a weird mix of first and second person. I don't think I've read many books written in second person, so this was new, and weird. It's written in a way that Kol is telling the story to Mya, but it's in present, so he's not remembering what happening... he's telling readers what happened but in present form, to Mya. If that makes sense. So if he says "and then I see you, by the kayak", he means that he is seeing Mya by the kayak. Anyway, it was weird, and I'm not sure I liked it, but I will say that Eshbaugh pulled off the second person aspect for sure.
I also think Eshbaugh did a pretty good job with the setting. It can't have been easy, researching prehistoric times and trying to write a story that makes sense with the time period. I got a lot of 10,000 B.C. vibes (great movie, in my opinion!), so I think the setting was brought about well. It's a unique setting, one we don't see often in YA. Lots of mammoths and saber-toothed tigers and nomadic tribes.
The story was interesting, and I don't think I was ever really bored. I feel like the story relies heavily on the slow romance between Kol and Mya (more on that below), but there is more to the story. Kol's tribe needs young women, as his father (the High Elder) and mother have four sons, and the tribe in general has few young females. The feud between two tribes finds itself into Kol's tribe, where old secrets are brought to light.
Overall, I do think I have a positive opinion on this book. I just think it was also really over-hyped, and I'd probably had too-high expectations. Still, I see the appeal and I do think many people will enjoy this book!
What I Did Not Like:
One of the things that stuck out to me and bothered me the most was the loooooooong stretches of paragraphs and pages in which there were intense and drawn-out descriptions of every minute thing. And descriptions of stories, history, and inconsequential details. This wasn't just in the very beginning of the book, when the author was trying to set the scene. No, this was throughout the book. These paragraphs upon paragraphs were so dry and I honestly skimmed or skipped a lot of them. They were totally unnecessary!
I pretty much hated Mya on the spot. She's kind of a b***h, and there was no redemption for her, in my eyes. She's rude and mean and aloof and RUDE, and it's horrible! She treats Kol so badly. I know that this book is supposed to have Pride and Prejudice allusions or whatever, but Mya is so much worse than Darcy. Mya's behavior and attitude start to switch past the halfway mark, and by that time, it was pretty much too late for me to revise my opinion of her. She's so rude!
I never really saw Kol and Mya's connection. Kol, I could see, and I could understand his small interest in her. But because Mya was so rude, I could not really picture the two of them together. And I didn't see it happening. I didn't want it to happen. They didn't mesh well together, and they always seemed to be aggravating one another. Well, Kol is cool as a cucumber, and so sweet. Mya is... rude.
So I never really believed the romance. The romance was such a letdown! I really don't see Kol and Mya's feelings. Or I don't understand them. In any case, the romance is slow and kind of annoying, definitely not swoony or cute.
I had no idea that this is book one of a trilogy. When I finished the book, I was like, okay, that ending is a good one for a standalone novel! Then I go on Goodreads and it's part of a trilogy? I wonder how that is going to work...
Anyway, I felt a feeling of discontent, as well just a general "meh" feeling. I think a lot of the attraction of this book lies in the setting - you don't see prehistoric historical fiction in YA every day. However, when you actually read the story, it's not as intense as one would have expected.
Would I Recommend It:
I'd probably still recommend this one to anyone who was already interested. It most likely won't disappoint you! I don't think I'm too disappointed, though I wish I could have liked this book more than I did. Still, I like the idea of the story, and I'll probably pick up the next book in the series.
3 stars. An okay start to a new series (I didn't know this was part of a series), one of which I'll probably be continuing in the future. While this is yet another over-hyped debut novel of 2016, I do see where the hype is coming from.
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