This book has had a bumpy start. No one in the publishing industry or Writer Twitter missed all the controversy surrounding this book and the original ARCs people had been able to read last year.
While I acknowledge that, (I was not one who read an original ARC) those controversies and/or original content of the book are not what this review is about.
I admit I read The Continent primarily because Ms. Drake is a friend of mine on Facebook, and I was curious to see what the book was about. I’m not able to make comparisons between the original content and what was actually published, but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed The Continent.
The book is about Vaela Sun, a 16-year-old girl who is given a tour of The Continent by her parents as a birthday gift. The Continent is home to two peoples, the Xoe and the Aven’ei. Their history is filled with war and violence.
Tours of The Continent are made to view these peoples and their constant war, as war and violence in that extreme are a novelty to the people of the Spire, where Vaela Sun lives and has grown up.
During the tour, Vaela’s plane goes down. Though her parents and their traveling companions perish in the crash, she survives and must make a new life on The Continent.
Luckily, she is taken in hand by Noro, and he, along with his Aven’ei friends, welcome her.
The threat of the Xoe is never far, and we watch as Vaela tries to meld the peace she’s grown up within the Spire to the violence she must tolerate and learn in order to survive.
I’ve read of the racial issues this book supposedly (I say supposedly because again, I haven’t read the original manuscript) contained, and I witnessed none of that here. Race (skin color) of the people of the Spire, Xoe, and Aven’ei take distance place to the story.
We see Vaela lose one family, but with her strength and determination, and never a loss of faith that life can be better, we see her find another.
Vaela learns a lot of lessons during her time on The Continent. The past doesn’t always lay the groundwork for a pleasant future. People deserve second chances, no matter what they’ve done. And with strength and perseverance, something beautiful can always be found in something ugly.
This book is no different. Do not judge this book on what you know or what you think you know about its history.
The Continent is beautiful. It will make you laugh; it will make you cry.
And you will definitely want to find out what happens next.
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And full disclosure, this is the 4-star review I left on Amazon. I was feeling a bit stabby and snarky, and a bit defensive on Keira’s behalf.
This isn’t a verified purchase because I bought my copy at Barnes and Noble. (LIke you all should, if you don’t want the only remaining bookstore in America to close.)
Anyway, I’ve read the reviews, and this book ISN’T THAT BAD. There isn’t anything racist about this book, and there is not any “white savior” crap going on.
Vaela gets trapped there, okay, yes. And she saves those people, yes. But the fact that everyone is missing is, SHE FELL IN LOVE. She fell in love with Noro, she fell in love with his sister, Kiri, and she fell in love with the rest of the Noro’s people. She made friends, she became one of them. In the end, she was saving her own people.
There’s a lot of talk about her stupidity, and her naivety, but you know, most people who grow up with money are like that. And you can argue all you want against it, but Paris Hilton made herself a brand based on being spoiled, and the Kardashians are doing the same thing.
I’m not arguing that Vaela didn’t have a lot to learn, but her learning that the Spire was not all she thought it was, or that she finally understood she was a spoiled rich kid with an erroneous viewpoint of the Continent’s peoples, were part of the lesson, part of the character growth, part of the plot arc. She crawled to them and begged for help on behalf of her new family, and she was denied. It opened her eyes. And it made her grow up.
Anyone who complains this is slow–hey! It’s part of a trilogy. There are going to be unanswered questions.
Anyone who didn’t like it based on silly little things like, where did that Xoe Warrior find his orange?? How old are you? This is a YA novel. If you want a more complex plot, go read Sing, Unburied, Sing, or Lincoln in the Bardo, or Manhattan Beach. Those might be more up to your delicate sensibilities.