Title: The Continent (The Continent #1)
Author: Keira Drake
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (Harlequin)
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Get swept away in the majesty and danger of Keira Drake’s sparkling debut fantasy novel The Continent.
For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire—a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two “uncivilized” nations remain perpetually at war. Most citizens tour the Continent to see the spectacle and violence of battle—a thing long vanished in the Spire. For Vaela—a smart and talented apprentice cartographer—it is an opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land.
But an idyllic aerial exploration is not to be had: the realities of war are made clear in a bloody battle seen from the heli-plane during the tour, leaving Vaela forever changed. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, she has no illusions about the true nature of the danger she faces. Starving, alone, and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home—but first, she must survive.
Engaging with questions of social responsibility, the nature of peace and violence, and the value (and danger) of nationalism, Drake’s debut is as thought-provoking as it is fast-paced and surprising, a heart-pounding and heartbreaking story of strength and survival.
It has been a long time since I've read a book before there was even a cover. Hell, it's been a long time since I've read a physical book. (Audiobooks have been my jam since Life has gone crazy.) But this book. This. The Continent . It reminded me of why I'm a reader. I got adventure and escape from the unpleasantness and monotony around me. I got to hang out with a tough girl named Vaela Sun who should get the Survivor of the Decade award.
There's NOTHING better than finding a book to make you fall in love with books again. The Continent rekindled that romance.
Since I've fallen off of the reviewing bandwagon in the past year, I was a turd and forgot to write down all of the various names of things from the book. Yes, they are important in the Grand Scheme of Things, but if I make up how something is pronounced in my head, what is written doesn't stick. I'm warning you before I start with the plot and stuff.
The first thing I loved about this book is Vaela wasn't some wretched, angst-ridden teenager waiting on some sparkling vampire to come along and Change Her Life. No, she had a great relationship with her parents, she had an apprenticeship lined up, and she was a happily normal young person. That's rare in YA, and I didn't even notice that until I read this book. Well, anywho, Keira Drake decided to shake all of that up because Vaela didn't get to float on Cloud 9 for long. She got to know the natives a little better than she would have liked. There are two tribes, and only one of them is civilized.
I'll leave it at that.
I appreciated the world Drake built in The Continent. I won't lie - I was a little confused by the Spire and Continent thing*. I read so much science fiction that I assumed the Spire was some manufactured or magic kingdom in the clouds. They took airships to the Continent, so that made perfect sense to me. As I read the book, I started to realize that maybe that's not how things were. I didn't dwell on it, though - I was too interested in what was going on with Vaela. That's saying a lot because I'm usually picking these things apart. *shrugs* I'm hoping for a map with the finished copy so I can get a better idea of what is going on. (And yes, I plan on reading the finished copy or at least listening to it if it's on Audible.)
I don't want to get too spoilery, so I'm not going to subject you to the made-up names. I'm going to stop. But first I'm going to say just this - if you're looking for a book to be excited about reading this winter, The Continent is it.
* Thankfully, this is a very early review, and Drake said that it would be fixed by the time the book is available.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.