Series: Ryogan Chronicles #1
In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.
On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.
But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya's home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she's never seen.
To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run―a betrayal and a death sentence.
Island of Exiles marks the first time I was able to join in with the #AceBookClub, yay! It was a lot of fun to read, and if you’re looking for a fantasy story that’s immersive and different, this is a great place to start looking. ^_^
Okay, so… First of all, if you followed my book club tweets on Twitter, you may remember this, but I feel it’s only fair to start off with my reaction to Khya. Khya is everything that a female protagonist doesn’t get to be without raising eyebrows where, if she’d been male, we would’ve seen no issue at all. She’s unlikeable, aggressive, she’s stubborn, she’s arrogant, she’s self-confident, she’s strong, she’s anti-social… You get my drift. She’s absolutely glorious to read about.
But, because the book is in first person, that also means that it took me a long time to warn up to Khya. The society Cameron has created is fantastic and if you enjoy immersive worldbuilding it’s definitely something I’d recommend to you, but it wasn’t enough on its own to capture my attention. The plot is… I love the pacing now that I’ve finished, but as I was reading it felt slow (it’s not; an event I would have expected to be the climax of the book was the catalyst) and, again, it actually took me a while to settle into it. That said, if you get on with Khya’s voice and the worldbuilding better, this is a book that you can’t put down.
Where Island of Exiles shone for me was with the secondary characters: with Tessen and Sanii in particular. Tessen is precious, and hopelessly in love with Khya (not that she’s noticed; she’s busy letting her prejudices cloud her interpretations). Sanii is dry, sarcastic, passionate, stubborn… I adore em. Sanii is terrific and ey makes a great foil for Khya’s personality. Khya’s friends as well.
I will admit that I had some mixed (and highly hypocritical) feeling about the way that Cameron uses language to create immersion by using conlang for certain concepts. I’m still working through my feelings on this, especially since it’s not the first time I’ve seen this, I’ve done myself in my works and didn’t expect to react this strongly to it in this book. :/ Maybe the issue was that it took me such a long time to settle into the book.
That said, despite the fact that I had trouble settling into the read, I’d highly recommend it and if your reaction is kind of like mine, try to give it to about 25% of the book. Cameron takes a while to set up the world and the characters, and after that it is one wild twist after another and it’s absolutely amazing. <3 I loved the concepts and the way it uses history. I’m a sucker for books where people discover their past isn’t what they thought/were taught. I loved the relationships and as frustrating as I found Khya, I had the best fun with reading about her and just delighted in the fact that she’s so thoroughly and wholly herself, even as she makes mistakes and works on doing better.
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