(Adrienne Young, 2018)
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
What I Liked
- I loved how unique this story felt because of the backdrop. You do not come across many modernly popular YA books with Viking-like characters. This was a HUGE selling point for me because of how unique it is. I also have been personally getting into D&D lately and even ended up naming my current character after Eelyn because of how gritty and bad ass she was, it inspired me to design a character like that for my next campaign. Back to what I was saying though- this story felt legit. You could feel the grim and grit radiating off these characters, which made the experience feel authentic.
- It took a minute, I won’t lie. But in the end I really came to love quite a few of these characters. I felt like I knew them by the end, and was really pulling for them. I held my breath every fight scene, hoping they would all make it back alive (even though I know what war does). I think the author did a really great job fleshing out the characters in this book (and there were quite a few), to the point where I knew who each of them were without difficulty.
- I feel like I always mention this but guy, THE COVER! It is so stunning. I am in love with the gold on top of the black. I love the mystery in the girl’s face because you can’t see the entirety of her face. I think this was simply well done. I know it was a big factor on me adding it to my physical shelf.
- This book was mostly an action heavy book. To be honest, I did not expect any kind of romance at all. But the author did such a beautiful job slowly creeping this into the story- the point where when things finally happen you realize you have been waiting for this moment just as long as the characters have and it is a relief to finally see it unfold. It was honest and subtle and just very well done. I don’t think I have read a “slow burn” romance like this (especially in YA) in a very long time. Kudos to Young for pulling it off in such a tasteful way.
- I loved that this YA did not FOCUS on romance. I liked that while it was an adventure, themes of family and loyalty were prominent. I really enjoyed that internal struggle that Eelyn faced between her loyalty to her klan, and her love/loyalty to her blood (her family). I found it interesting to test those ideas and try to figure out how you would feel in that situation.
What I Disliked
- I felt like this ALMOST took too long to get interesting. At first I was going to give it 50 pages, and then I was still unsure so I was going to give it until 70 pages, and I was still unsure so I stuck around for 100 and THAT is when it finally picked up. I personally have a hard time with stories that take a while to get going, so this could just be how I feel about it. It’s funny because the first like 10 pages of the book are a fight scene between the two klans; epic, a bit gore-y and definitely action packed. And yet I still did not feel compelled to pick it up until I got around that 100 page mark. There is when I started to give a crap about what was going on.
- I know some people really love that descriptive language but it just gets on my nerves after awhile, i’m sorry. Like, just get to the point. I don’t care about the million ways to describe the side of the mountain, I just want to know how she’s going to get away from these guys. Many a time during this (mostly short) story I found myself skimming a few paragraphs just to get back into the story. But that could just be me!
I will start off by saying that in my FIF, I was not particularly feeling this book, and predicted a 3 out of 5 stars (if I could even finish it). So I am pleasantly surprised that I ended up rating it a 4. Also, I have not done a full book review since November WTF?!?!?
I really enjoyed this unique story. I loved that the author took a backdrop that is not completely beaten to death, and utilized it in the best way possible to churn out this one-of-a-kind action novel for teens. Young does an amazing job making you believe her story. You can feel the grit and grim on these characters. You can smell the blood in the air. And most importantly, you can truly feel the bonds and beliefs these klans have. That’s why it is so interesting and easy to put yourself in Eelyn’s shoes, and struggle along with her on your thoughts of loyalty to your klan vs. family ties. I found the characters to all be interesting and unique enough to differentiate between them, which is helpful when you have two different klans to keep straight. While it did take a bit longer for me to get into, I can see a lot of atmospheric fans liking this book, and many readers just fully immersed in this descriptive language of the world around these characters. Sky in the Deep was a wonderful book, and I would absolutely recommend it to those who may be curious about it.