This was one of my highly anticipated reads of the year! Aaaand, I didn’t like it. Boo to me.
Thanks Bloomsbury for the ARC! Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon hits shelves on June 5th, 2014.
Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . .
Lucy Saxon is 19 and lives in Hertfordshire with her parents. She describes herself as a cosplayer, con-goer, book-lover and all-round nerdgirl.
Lucy wrote her first novel, Take Back the Skies, at the age of sixteen, finding a home for it with Bloomsbury at seventeen, and is now working on the rest of the series. When not writing, Lucy spends most of her time on the internet, reading books and slaving over her sewing machine.
Some books you click with, others you use for doorstops. Reading is so darn subjective! I fully expected to adore this book…come on, you know me! I spent the last 5 years being a “teen writer”, I’m always up for sci-fi/cyberpunk books, and who doesn’t like spunky characters who save the world?!
But, ah. No. I didn’t like this book at all. And the narrator’s name is Cat, so you know what this means, right?
Cat GIFs! You’ve been warned.
Before we launching into Reasons, I admit I’m probably too old for this book. I struggle with saying that, though, because I enjoy a ton of YA books where the narrator is young. As CS Lewis says: “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Age shouldn’t be an issue! But I feel like it is in the case of Take Back the Skies. Also I also read a lot. So my brain demands quite a high standard of writing. I just think, if I’d been 13 or 14 while reading this, I probably would have liked it better.
The writing felt clunky. I like tight and slick writing, so anything that waffles…basically, I snooze. But I was concerned I was being too picky, so I took the book up to my mum and also to Mime and asked their opinions. They agreed with me.
Can we also talk about logic? I love logical things! And the most logical thing in the world is probably apple pie and ice cream — BUT WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT FOOD RIGHT NOW. We’re talking about, a) weak plans, b) flying 1800s style ships in the future, and c) what sexism really is.
I had a hard time picturing these “skyships”. But you can see a picture right here on the author’s website. Basically we have 1800s style ships flying across the sky. Which gives us: cyber-punk (basically steampunk, but this is an alternate future with old-fashioned trimmings). Lots of old-English names and people calling each other “sprog”. Whatever that is. I would have liked to see this explained a little better. Also: how is it even possible to fly on an 1800s style ship with wings? How does that even work?
I can’t help but mention this too, though, but the Great Evil Plans had some problems. At one stage, the rich government people were wishing they could just wipe out the lower classes. Be done with them! Good riddance! Ah…huh. They do realise that without the lower classes doing all the work for them, THEY would have to do it right? When that came up I kind of squinted and said: just no. The government and military needed help with their Great Evil Plans. Make that lots of help.
Also: sexism. Ah…look…just. Read this for me, will you?
“You’ve proved rather useful so far,” he told her. “And regardless of whether I trust you or not, you’ve got guts…for a girl.”
Cat scowled, glaring at him. “I never pegged you for a chauvinist.”
He blinked. “A what?” he asked blankly.
“Sexist,” she explained, making him laugh.
“That wasn’t being sexist, that was being truthful.”
THIS IS NOT COUNTERED. Cat then leaves the love-interest’s room with a sigh of, “Boys.” I can’t figure out if the book is being sexist or not. Half the time it insists on freeing the women of the sexist society. The other half of the book, the women are saying, “Oh the boys don’t come into the kitchen. That’s our job.”
I’m sorry, I just can’t… There are only a few things that really honestly tick me off in writing: a) bad writing, b) blatant and unremorseful sexism, and c) societies with plot holes. Unfortunately Take Back the Skies hit all three for me.
(PS: “Cat scowled, glaring at him.” That sentence repeats the same thing straight after each other. This is an ARC, so that might not be the final quote. BUT. STILL.)
The romantic aspects? Fox is 16 or 17 years old. Cat is 14 (she turns 15). That’s an adorable little crush, but I’m sorry, I just can’t ship that. They felt like big brother and little sister. Zero chemistry outside of adopted-family-feels.
So what did I like in it? Oh! Oh! I love the covers. Both versions are freakishly beautiful. And I love the fact that this is an alternate universe, that’s super awesome. I don’t see a lot of steampunk around, so this is fantastic. Also, I know I have 72 billion issues with this book, but it’s a debut, and writers almost always grow as they work on their craft.
This book wasn’t for me, but who knows? It might be for you! Don’t know ’till you try, right, peoples?
Since it threw together soooo many things that made me need to headdesk, it’s 1.5 stars. But you enjoyed the cat GIFs. DO NOT DENY IT. We all did.
Cait has this THING for apple pie and ice cream. It’s a desperate THING because it doesn’t often get satisfied. (But she gets frequent lasagna, so you win some, you lose some.) Besides blogging, she likes to teach her nephew things he shouldn’t know. Like, when he’s playing a computer game to say, “Aw gawsh, I just died.” He’s three. It’s adorable. Aunty Fabulous right here.