Well, I missed a day. Sigh. I knew that if I didn’t schedule them earlier on that this would happen. Trying to juggle a busy work life and a read-a-thon is really hard, okay? But I missed one of my favourite challenges in the Bibliothon, which is why you need to imagine my face as a sad emoji now. With that out of the way, let’s get into today’s post. The challenge is hosted by Gabi from A Bookish Gal and the prompt is to talk about the most memorable read of 2017. That sounds easy on the surface level, but it’s actually next to impossible to pick one favourite. So, I’m just going to post my review (as per the usual schedule) of what I have, with great difficulty, chosen as my most memorable read (which, strangely, was the next book I was going to review anyway), and I’ll leave some honourable mentions afterwards because they were all awesome!
Title: Even the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars #1)
Author: Heather Fawcett
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Published: By Balzer + Bray on September 5th, 2017
Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance. But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit. As dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.
I didn’t have high expectations when I picked up this book. Sure, the synopsis sounded intriguing and different from the usual fae-ridden fantasy that is so popular at the moment. I picked it up to fulfil one of the challenges in a reading challenge I took part in last year (my TBR can be found here) and I was sure it would meander towards a predictable plot.
Sometimes, it can be good to have lowered expectations so the book can blow your mind. I think picking this book up was one of my best decisions of 2017. I loved the main character, Kamzin, from the get-go. She is a Gryffindor through and through, who climbs mountains like a nimble goat. It’s something she has honed over time as opposed to being born special and I appreciated that she had weaknesses as well, so she came across as a very believable character. I also liked the sibling rivalry aspect in this book. Kamzin cared for her sister’s safety but also didn’t want her to take away the glory of achieving her biggest dream. Coming to the plot, I had the big reveal figured out and the romance was a little cringey at times, but I actually didn’t mind it in this book, which was very surprising. From the start of their journey, it reminded me strongly of The Lord of the Rings, so I obviously couldn’t put it down and read through the night to finish it in one sitting. There was enough danger and respite throughout the journey, so I really liked the pacing of the book. The ending left me reeling and begging for more, which was superbly crafted. I fell head over heels for the setting, the magic and the political tension in this book. It has influences from Tibetian culture and includes pet dragons, shamans, talismans and witches. All of that came together so well to create an unforgettable world, which was revealed to the reader in perfect doses. The storytelling style was effortless and very well-done. The writing painted a picture of the world in my mind’s eye with its lush descriptions and completely captivated me. Obviously, this turned out to be my most memorable read of 2017.
Even though I loved this book, I don’t think it’s for everyone. Fans of epic fantasy will definitely enjoy this, but only if you are okay with reading young adult. I would definitely recommend it to fellow admirers of J. R. R. Tolkien’s works as it reads like a YA version of The Lord of the Rings set in the Himalayas.
- When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
- A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
- The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
- The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
If you had to pick just one, what would your most memorable read of 2017 be? Is 2018 a better or worse reading year for you compared to 2017? Let me know in the comments section below.