by Amanda Sun
Published on April 26, 2016 by Harlequin TEEN
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult
As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family, by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman, and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.
When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.
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I should have known better. I knew, when I picked up Heir to the Sky, that it was a YA dystopian (well, it says fantasy but it read more like a dystopian to be honest) and as much as I want to love the genre it’s always hit or miss. And this book was definitely a miss.
We have some floating islands above the earth and the princess ends up falling off said islands to the earth below… but she survives, and manages to come across another human who immediately offers to help her. Cue adventure with this weird almost-romance and all sorts of plot holes.
Heir to the Sky was honestly a struggle to get through. By about halfway through I’ll freely admit I started skimming pages waiting for the story to get better. For even the characters to be anything more than average and boring, lacking much of a personality outside of their roles of damsel and white knight. I felt like the author started writing this story, had a new idea, and decided to throw it in.
Let’s throw the character off the floating island! Oh wait, that would kill her. There’s a barrier that protects her! Oh wait, monsters on the earth will eat her and she has absolutely zero survival skills. She’s suddenly found by a self-proclaimed monster hunter! Well we can’t just have them travel together. There has to be a romance too, right?
You get the picture. Everything just seemed to fall into place way too easily and the story lost its tension. Not to mention there wasn’t much of a world to really flesh the story out. There wasn’t much consistency throughout to tie everything together.
Even the characters couldn’t salvage this one. Kali wasn’t a terrible protagonist but I didn’t really care if she got eaten by a dragon or not (there were NOT enough dragons in this book). And for someone who’s going to have to lead her people someday, she does not seem like a good option, taking everything at face value until someone flat-out tells her otherwise (and even then she struggles to understand). Her traveling companion Griffin claimed to be a monster hunter but was pretty bad about it. I’d say every time they came across a beast he got hurt, almost getting them both killed. Not someone I’d trust, though I know the pickings were slim.
There was also this weird romance between them that I don’t even think even the most hormone-crazed teen would believe. They had zero chemistry, knew nothing about each other, and seemed thrown in because most YA books have some kind of romance.
By the end, I already had the villain pegged (well, for most of the book because it was pretty obvious) and the only surprise came from a last-minute prophecy that seemed more like a page-filler than anything.
I think there’s a reason fantasy books are more often series versus standalones because you need that space to really flesh out this alternate world. Heir to the Sky definitely needed more put into the world-building and plot, trying to tie all those random ideas together. Unfortunately, once again, I was disappointed by a YA dystopian-esque fantasy.