Saturday, July 9, 2011
Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Danica Shardae is an avian shapeshifter. She is a princess of her people who, like the birds they become, is reserved and disciplined, yet full of passion. Her people have been at war with the serpiente, a people who shapeshift into serpent forms, for so many years that no one remembers how it all started. The hatred and bloodshed have taken a heavy toll on both sides, and Danica and Zane Cobriana, a prince among the serpiente, are determined to stop it, at any cost. He is the last of his line as is Danica and so he proposes that the avian and serpiente royalty meet at a neutral place and seek mediation to end the war. The mediator proposal-that Danica and Zane marry-is so crazy and repugnant a plan that both parties leave immediately. The young people, however, consider it in spite of the apparent lunacy, for it would mean an end to the fighting. But can they pull it off? And can they keep the dissenters among them from destroying this shred of a chance for peace?
Genre: fantasy; romance
Note: #1 for the YA Series Challenge
I remember when Amelia Atwater-Rhodes was hailed as a writing prodigy long before Christopher Paolini, though probably without as many initial sales or movie deals, which is a shame because she's the better author. What she does with this book is create a book that has all the feel of an adult fantasy series, but which in length and narrative is more accessible to high school age. The problem that so often gets YA fantasy is that it ~feels~ like YA fantasy. This series avoids that and is good on its own without falling into the "we're aiming this at teenagers" trap.
The plot believable deals with the issues of hate without understanding. Danica and Zane are trying to end a fight that has gone on for decades. The hate among their sides goes so deep that it's logical that the sides don't trust each other. There are still some areas of vagueness in the book, but on the whole it works well. Danica is actually the colder of the characters, even though that's more a trait of her upbringing that her actually not caring. The romance between her and Zane is about as believable as could possibly be given the circumstances, though there is the vague "love at first sight" sort of veneer to everything. As a young adult fantasy though, this book was above par with most.