Altaica (The Chronicles of Altaica, #1) by Tracy M. Joyce

Received from NetGalley for review. 

I’m not really sure how to review this book, there’s the usual I could rattle out about the writing and some interesting characters – the writing was a bit clunky and muddled but not bad, and I liked a couple of the characters – but for the most part nothing really seemed to happen in this book, I’m at a loss to try and describe what I’ve just read because I’m not really sure. When things did start happening (over half way through its 300 pages), so many names and places were thrown at me that I couldn’t quite figure out where I was and what was happening until the end, and I’m still not entirely sure what was going on. It’s quite a bizarre experience to read a book in which the main character (I think Isaura is supposed to be the main character) is unconscious for most of it, and where half the book is spent with a bunch of people stranded at sea and slowly dying on a boat.

Here’s what I can comment on:
– Something bad has happened within Altaica and people have been evacuating their villages in order to survive.
– Isaura is an outcast of her village because of her heritage, she’s Hill Clan (whatever that means) and doesn’t look like the other villagers. She is dark where they are fair and she likes to hunt and fight, unlike the other village women who are wives and mothers first. Spare me. She seems quite heartless and arrogant for the parts of the book where she is conscious and although I tried to like her for being independent and strong minded she just annoyed me and came across as rude.
– The other women are wives, mothers and healers. They are portrayed as weak and there are some serious misogynistic male characters that perpetuate this ideal. All the other women also seem to dislike Isuara, or not trust her around their husbands, because obviously Isaura is one of the boys and her friend’s wives are insecure and stupid. This trope in literature is so very boring.
– The men are strong, hunters, providers and fighters. There’s nothing new going on here. The villain of the book is almost a caricature of a bad guy – unbelievably attractive, spoiled, arrogant, sexist, rapist, murderer and so on. The list is endless.
– Pio is incredible, even while I was suffering through a million pages of people dying on a boat Pio was a little ray of sunshine. Umniga and Asha are pretty badass too, and the pace definitely picked up when they came into the story (before I got confused with even more names and places and clans).

I think a lot of people will enjoy this story, even though it wasn’t for me there were some aspects of the story that I really liked and I can definitely see how it will appeal to others. The blurb is really intriguing but the execution of those ideas didn’t quite live up to my expectations, although there’s definitely potential for the next book in this series. For me, there was too much telling and not showing, and just too many characters and narratives (not usually a problem) for me to get my head around.

Read: July 2nd-9th 2014

3/5 stars


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