[Review] Heir to the Sky — Amanda Sun

Book Title:  Heir to the Sky (Standalone)
Author:      Amanda Sun
Number of pages:  384

Synopsis:

heir to the sky - amanda sun book coverAs heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family; by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman; and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.

When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.

(re: Goodreads @ Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun)


Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:

– An interesting world/premise that loses its steam as it doesn’t really sustain the early intrigue
– Solid action sequences against mythical beasts
– Instalust driven romance all day everyday.
– Doormat supporting characters who have no other mission than to support the protagonist

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Initial Thoughts

After much consideration, this book is either not for me or I just didn’t understand this story at all.

Full disclosure: I borrowed an ARC of Heir to the Sky from Amanda @ Brains, Books and Brawn received at Ontario Library Association’s Superconference.


Afterthoughts:

Premise

I cannot with this book. I just cannot.

The blurb gave off vibes of intrigue coupled with an original-ish world–well actually, that’s not true…I thought of DeStefano’s Perfect Ruin initially. But the execution left something to be desired. A lot to be desired. There’s just this void where character development, world building, and the glue of conflict that should bind them together ought to be…and it isn’t there.

The synopsis lays it out for you: girl falls from the sky and wants to get back home because of supposed conflict. 

But the journey back through an unknown territory never felt cumbersome; its consequences non-existence given the competency of its supporting characters and her sheer luck in every damn situation — so much that the protagonist doesn’t even have to do shit except than to just exist on the page.

Holy hell.


Setting

The world in Heir to the Sky has a high ceiling of potential — I’m certain of this. Not only do you have the base world (home) to work with, you also have the unknown (“new”) environment to discover. It’s just jarring when the trickling of fantastical and steampunk is glossed over. What I mean by that is the world doesn’t feel rich and lacks layered depth. It’s like: “here’s a dragon trying to eat you” and that’s it, you accept it, no explanations required. This was the case for so many elements that made the setting read hollow.


Narration

It’s a blessing and a curse when a story reads quick and effortlessly. The choice of short chapters keeps the goings taut, but by the same measure, it inhibits the aforementioned world building to flourish. In essence: one problem weaves into other problematic areas.

Kali’s voice isn’t the most fun to follow as I found it difficult to connect to. Moreover, the dialogue is chock full of righteous entitlement that just doesn’t hold up for me. Like…how she has the audacity to constantly remind these strangers to help her (because she “has” to get home) is beyond me. The cherry on the cake? Romance hijacks the plot 1,000 times over.

I’ll stop being a negative nancy for a moment and say that the action sequences are engaging and exciting to follow. I mean, how can you go wrong with fighting gnarly beasts dripping with poison or mythical creatures infused with elemental properties. It’s rad.


Characters

The biggest what-the-fuck moments feature doormat supporting characters who gladly protect this random from-the-sky-heiress in every. fucking. situation. Perhaps I’m just a pessimistic individual but this story could have benefited with one ambiguous (“grey”) character. 

See: it’s one thing to have a lead male (who is described to look like San from Princess Mononoke, see below) entranced by instalust and feel the need to protect the protagonist but the problem truly begins when no one else seems to bat an eye at this random person. This is made infinitely worse by the lead actively reiterating that she’s entitled and has to get to x destination. Seriously.

Griffin, in the book, also described to have a necklace and wore the fur of a beastly wolf or something I forget:

heir to the sky amanda sun review san princess mononoke

Let me put this into context: if you lived in a first world country and then found yourself in a third world context, you would surely be guarded as much as the culture and society ought to be guarded towards meeting you. I mean, what if you’re a fucking  sociopath murderer — THEY don’t know that as much as YOU don’t know they could be dangerous. Yet there’s none of that; no intentions being questioned, no sense of doubt to struggle against. Everything is just so vanilla and inherently “good” that the representation of characters isn’t compelling at all.

And you guessed right: the “antagonist” is a bust.


Overall

It could be just me though (I’ll never know).

While I’ll admit Amanda Sun’s Heir to the Sky is a quickly paced standalone fantasy with good fight scenes with monsters alike, the intrigue that opens the story never really takes flight despite the synopsis promising the sure feeling of plummeting into despair after falling off the edge of the world.


Cheers,
Joey

connect: 
afterthoughtAn // twitter
anotherafterthought // goodreads
picturevomit // instagram

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25 thoughts on “[Review] Heir to the Sky — Amanda Sun”

  1. I always find that books with dragons are never for me (too slow paced, too dull, too unoriginal, etc) so from the premise alone I probably would have steered clear of this. But this is such a shame anyway. Great review, Joey! I was totally loling at your comment about this Griffin person being similar to San. XD

    Like

    1. Welp, I may have overclassified this book. There are dragons + other magical-ish creatures but it’s not solely about dragons I guess (re the lore/history of it all).

      I was actually going to ask you about Ghibli references because I haven’t seen many of them but seriously if you read this book — TELL ME IT DOES NOT REMIND YOU OF EVERYTHING GHIBLI.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. WHAT YOU HAVEN’T?? I think my all time favorites are Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Whisper of the Heart, and Nausicaa of the Valley. Like go down the list this summer and watch the ones you haven’t yet.

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  2. So sorry it didn’t work for you! I’ve only read another of Amanda Sun’s work (Ink) and didn’t like it too for various reasons, insta-love being one of them. What your review highlights – vapid, shallow supporting characters; a distinct lack of real world-building – would really bother me too. How unfortunate, given that the premise sounds like it could’ve been really fun. 😦

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    1. The only thing I know about Sun’s previous trilogy is that everyone was pissed that cover for the third book didn’t match the previous covers (to which I can’t really fault her for). Anyways, it sounds as if the same tropes are rehashed in that series which is disappointing to hear as I would have totally given her other stories another try and I could have wrote this off as a outlier of an experience.

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      1. I looked the trilogy up because of your comment and OMG, I don’t follow the series at all but the covers did look quite different, I understand why people were annoyed. 😛

        Yeah, I really wouldn’t recommend Ink though. It was supposed to be cool because it has this girl going to a school in Japan, but it just failed miserably imho.

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  3. Damn
    Damn
    Damn
    this was a good review.
    Not reading this book. You sound so frustrated and like you were half typing, half yanking on your hair in frustration. I saw something recently that said that a lit professor has said life is short so choose your books very wisely. I’m sorry that you keep running into the wrong ones. :/ 😦 :/
    *comforting pat on the back*
    *goes off to read other posts I missed on your blog*

    Like

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