Amber Sky by Claire Warner
We received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
What I drank: It’s another doctor night which means another review. We’re in the middle of anepisode that isn’t my favorite (to be fair, we’re in the middle of the run that I’m not the biggest fan of… I have a lot of opinions). But tonight is all about the margaritas. I’m apparently the only one cool enough to be willing to make my drinks frozen but that just means I toss some sort of frozen fruit into the bullet blender with everything else and then I enjoy life. It’s a pretty solid decision.
Non-spoilered plot: So I’m gonna try a new thing and break this down into spoilers and thoughts (because Sam is much better at this than I am, so trying something new!!!!!) The plot is kind of everything that you expect from a YA dystopian novel. A bunch of shit has gone wrong and our protagonist is metaphorically on the wrong side of the tracks. She and her family is poor. Her dad died in some kind of revolution and her mom died in some revolution before that. In order to feed her family she makes a deal with a kind of devil. So our protagonist, Tay, makes a deal with Darius, the overlords son. Basically she has to pretend to be his sister so that she can have an abortion is peace while also keeping up whatever needs to be done in the capital. This pretense is fairly thing so…
While she’s in the capital she meets the sister’s betrothed (he’s an asshole) and steals the prince’s heart (of course) while also falling in love with Darius (and may I remind you she is currently impersonating his sister)… They get through the weekend but some stuff goes wrong for there and I feel like that’s where the spoiler- plot stuff kind of starts.
Spoilered Plot: So, as with all dystopian YA fiction, the mom isn’t dead. She escaped to join the rebels. A fact that Tay only found out after she and Darius and the prince are headed back to their hometown. Their train gets attacked by the rebels and there’s a not so tearful reunion. Which I actually appreciated, there wasn’t some teary reunion where Tay forgave the fact that her mother clearly abandoned her family without any real explantion to the multiple children (I feel like there’s four of them including Tay but honest to god I don’t think it matters that much. There might only be three). But the prince has fallen in love with her, because this is YA and duh, as has her fake brother (which – why does this plot happen in so many places – I don’t like it). But it turns out Darius’ father is a douche because he’s apparently gotten rid of his daughter because she was pregnant and tells Tay that she has to keep impersonating his daughter… Gasp.
Non-spoiler Thoughts: This is the part that’s gonna be different that I normally do.
Characters: Honestly, this is mostly going to be covered under plot. The characters weren’t anything particularly special. You of course have the heroine who is willing to put her own safety in question to help other people, a sibling who is super into the rebellion to make the agreement to help a little more believable, convenient plot device first love interest (aka Darius) who is there to forward the plot and fall in love with the main character because they aren’t as evil as they originally seem, obligatory royal character to fall in love with the heroine, and a cast of background players such as girl who knows too much, evil guy who is clearly going to be the betrothed, other girls who know too much. There’s not too much original here… Just the characters you need to have in a story like this.
Plot: I feel like this can kind of be understdood after reading the character section. This book has a few things going for it: it’s the first YA novel I’ve read that clearly states that prostitution would definitely be a thing in this kind of world, that recognizes that rape would be a possibility… but other than that a lot of it seems fairly generic. This book featured my least favorite trope, a love triangle between three people who barely know each other (made worse by the fact that two of the characters spend most of their time pretending they are siblings). It also features the worldwide problem that the wealthy are keeping from the poor. And the plot requires the poor main character to pretend to be rich in order to something something in order for the rebellion to something. The plot seems kind of unnecessary, in that the author clearly wanted certain scenes to happen and designed the plot around them.
writing style: This section is probably always going to be the shortest one that I write. I don’t really pay much attention to the writing style unless the writing style is really obvious (aka choppy, overly wordy, super descriptive, etc). This book features what you would probably expect. There are a few really nice descriptions, but overall, it’s very plot driven and doesn’t get distracted by overly wordy sentences about watching the snow swirl as the world turns dark and crisp or whatever you might expect. Basically, the writing is fine, nothing egregious
World Building: I thought this was one of the stronger parts of the book. There’s not quite enough explanation for the worle to make complete sense (we know the skies are a bronzy-amber color (look at the title of the book – this shouldn’t be a surprise) and that there’s a thing that makes that happen). But we don’t understand why the world is what it is. And that isn’t explained in the book. That being said, there is a clear caste system which I felt was decently explained. There are the different levels, each of which is afforded different things. It seems pretty clear than anything not explained i
Rating: This gets three stars. It’s nothing really special, it’s a fine read. If someone really enjoys YA dystopian’s this would be something worth reading, and I could feel some sort of potential in the rest of the series. But the one fell into a lot of the pitfalls of a book directed towards YA: the insubstantial plot, the love triangle, a kind of steam-punk world. It’s not a book a would shove at people to force them to read, but it’s a perfectly fine read.
What to drink: Honey mead. By that, I mean something that’s a little bit sweet and could act as an introduction to real alcohol while also being something that seems a little trad