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 nations remain perpetually locked in combat. Most citizens lucky enough to tour the Continent do so to observe the spectacle and violence of battle, a thing long vanished in the peaceful realm of the Spire. For Vaela, the war holds little interest. As a smart and talented apprentice cartographer and a descendent of the Continent herself, she sees the journey as a dream come true: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land.
But Vaela’s dream all too quickly turns to nightmare as the journey brings her face-to-face with the brutal reality of a war she’s only read about. Observing from the safety of a heli-plane, Vaela is forever changed by the sight of the bloody battle being waged far beneath her. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, Vaela finds herself much closer to danger than she’d ever imagined—and with an entirely new perspective as to what war truly means. Starving, alone, and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home—but first, she must survive.
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Author: Keira Drake
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published March 27th 2018 by Harlequin TEEN
The perfect underdog story for teens / young adults with a strong female heroine.
Vaela Sun lives oblivious to the world outside in the Spire, her home. She has a talent for mapmaking and has earned herself a place in an apprenticeship with a renowned mapmaker. Any of her daily conveniences she takes for granted without ever thinking of them, like so many. She works hard, is very smart and her aspirations are about to come true.
On her sixteenth birthday, Vaela’s parents gift her a trip to The Continent. A war ridden place with battles between nations. A once in a lifetime opportunity for only the most privileged of the Spire. Together with her parents and another family, they embark on this journey to spectate on the wars going on from heliplanes. A gruesome slaughter most are eager to see awaits them, but Vaela’s interest lies only in mapping the area. This will be the chance of a lifetime before her apprenticeship.
The Spire has a settlement or transit station in a safe zone at which visitors will stay when not touring The Continent. On day three of their trip, the heliplane suffers a malfunction and the entire crew and families fall from the sky. Except Vaela! She was shoved into the escape pod by her parents right before disintegration. She will be the only survivor in a desolate, icy landscape. This is where she almost dies. This is where she is found by killing warriors. This is where she finds the love and comforts she never did in her old life.
So the premise isn’t new but I am a sucker for it. Think of a sweet young girl tossed into the circumstance where she has to earn her place and respect by the people she showed up at. Think ‘Outlander’ or ‘Vikings’ where the female protagonist has to gain the trust and loyalty by working extra hard. The girl that did not know her own strengths.
Who comes out on top of it? Yes, Vaela makes it…but not without getting dishonored by her own people first. She has lost it all, yet gained so much. For details you have to read it! It is quite a journey :)
There is a development of real romance in this novel. Unlike so many other YA books of today, it is sweet, clean and meaningful.
I liked this novel from the get-go. Well written it tells of new worlds, new chances, travel and romance. What is not to love? I do think this book has slipped under the radar of most readers, but it deserves to be read. It is sweet and entertaining with a message for global peace. I cannot wait to read the sequel to it.