The Continent

Here we go.

This book is surrounded by controversy but that did not stop me from reading it. While I understand people wanting to prevent others from buying harmful books, its ridiculous to me that things have gone this far. That being said, my friend Allison from abookishalli was kind enough to loan me her ARC of the Continent so I could read it for myself. Things did not proceed as expected from there.

From the beginning, I found Vaela to be extremely unlikable. She was clueless about the world around her, more spoiled than she realizes, and overall an annoying voice. The relationship she has with her parents feel like a farce, almost like a cheesy infomercial family. The one friendship we see in the Spire feels the same. During the first part of the tour of the Continent, I felt incredibly bored. Again, the entire thing felt like a farce. Everyone was dramatically upset by the violence they saw, to almost the extreme.

After a few days of not much happening, the plane begins to have problems. Let’s be honest here; when they showed the single escape pod on the plane, we knew it was going to go down. It was just a matter of time. Also, its in the synopsis for the book to begin with. However, when this tragic event did occur, things got weird. Suddenly Aaeden became a different person and everyone got even more dramatic than they had been previously. Once Vaela does end up on the Continent, she acts just like the spoiled Spire girl I expected. She waits for a long time for a rescue party, does not do anything to protect herself, and complains the entire time about how horrible everything was.

Then everything changes, for Vaela and for my opinion of the story. It takes a few days for her situation to improve but she eventually finds herself with a warrior named Noro who is one of the sweetest characters in the book. He sees an outsider who looks like a member of the Topi, their sworn enemy; but he realizes that she is not one of them. Instead of leaving her to be harmed by the Topi who originally find her; he takes care of her and takes her back to his village where she can get treatment and live out her life. While Vaela is bratty about the majority of this decision, she is under the delusion that she will be able to return to the Spire because she does not want to stay with these people she believes are living in a technology-backwards society.

However, something beautiful comes from this. As Vaela begins to make friends – especially with Noro’s younger brother, Keiji – she realizes that everything she thought she knew about the inhabitants of the Continent is wrong. Getting to know the Aven’ei people, she finds a home. Everyone that is able to, works; and everyone helps take care of each other. After an adjustment period, Vaela begins to feel like a useful member of society. This is when her relationship with Noro begins to bloom, this is honestly my favorite part of the book. Noro has such a kind heart, it is because of him that Vaela was able to see the Aven’ei people for who they really are, not the bloodthirsty monsters the Spire has always presented them to be.

When the situation grows more dire, Vaela decides it is time for her to return to the Spire. Not because she does not want to stay on the Continent with Noro and the rest of the Aven’ei but because she wants to get help. When the alliance of the Spire was first formed, the Aven’ei were supposed to join but they were unable to lay down their weapons as the Spire required because of the persistent attacks by the Topi. Now Vaela thinks she can change their minds about that decision and get the help the Aven’ei need to end this war forever so that the Aven’ei can also live in peace. When it become apparent that no help will come, Vaela returns to the Continent because it is her real home. There she has formed real relationships that don’t feel like a farce, she has become a real person.

Many have called this a white savior story but it does not read like that to me. My opinion does not matter in the grand scheme of things because I am white but I honestly find Vaela to be one of the most unlikable characters in the entire story, aside from Aaeden. I found Noro and Keiji to be my favorites because they were the real saviors. Be honest, the only reason Vaela was even alive long enough to return to the Spire for help was because of them, they were the only reason she was strong enough to come back to the Continent as well. She became a different person because they helped her grow out of the persona of a spoiled brat that she was at the beginning.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story that was told in this book, looking back the boring and fake feeling at the beginning was almost necessary to fully understand how different the people in the Spire are. They have made themselves into shadows of real people. It saddens me that I have no idea when I will get to find out the rest of Vaela and Noro’s story, what becomes of the Aven’ei people. Currently, the Continent has no release date which means it may never make it through that extra round of edits that will completely change the course of the story. That being said, if/when it does come out, I fully intend to buy it. I want to see what was changed and if it takes away from the overall story that was told.

Though this review may end in many people hating me or calling me horrible things, I am not going to let it bother me at this point. I am entitled to have my own opinion on each book, it is not fair to take that away from anyone.

 

New Year, New Me

 

A fresh start. A clean slate. No definitions, just moving forward in life one day at a time.

This will be the year for books. No more relying on hype or popular series. No more forcing myself through books I’m not enjoying. I will ignore – what I think is – unwarranted hype and DNF books that don’t capture my attention. My reading challenge is half the number it was last year. I started to read to add to my number, not for pleasure; I don’t want to do that again. Reading is fun and I want it to stay that way. I will buy less, read what I already own first.

I will purge relentless. Books, clothes, anything unnecessary. I need to stop collecting possessions. Now is the time to minimize my life, stop hoarding thing I don’t actually need. Stop buying things just because they are on sale. Get rid of clothes that no longer fit and won’t even if I lose 5-10 pounds. Buy only what I actually want. That means clothes that make me feel good about myself now, not 5 pounds less. That means books I want to go home and read this very second, the ones I can barely wait the drive home to crack open. These will be rare occurrences, there’s no need to constantly shop to make myself feel better.

Fill my life with more meaningful hobbies. Write letters to friends. Spend time playing video games with Michael. Play with the dogs. Learn a new skill. Get back to painting or drawing. Just do something other than go on social media or watch youtube videos all day. Do something active. Get moving, don’t sit around.

Just write a book, a poem, anything creative. Stop being afraid of what people will think of all of my work, no one has to see it if I don’t want them to. Who cares if they don’t like it? Write it for you, not for anyone else.

In general, stop being afraid of what other people will think. Be you, be happy with who you are. If you aren’t, change who you are and don’t let anyone change your mind. Be who you want to be or work to be who you want to be.

This started with me talking about my goals and ended up as a pep talk to change. I probably should go back and edit those parts out but they seem oddly fitting. This wasn’t written really for anyone but myself but if you take something from it, some motivation – even better. While I hope people read and enjoy my reviews, this is supposed to be a place mostly to voice my thoughts. I’m going to take my own advice and stop thinking about how people will react if I was utterly honest, no more sugar-coated thoughts; especially about review books. Let 2017 be the year where we all stop pretending, be honest.

You have 362 blank pages left in this year, make them good. Fill them with something beautiful – you are definitely something beautiful, the world will always need more of you. –Ashley