Synopsis: After a terrible volcano eruption destroys Rounn, killing Trei's family, Trei makes his way to the stunning and majestic Floating Islands, to live with his uncle. There, he first sees the kajuraihi - men who soar the skies with wings. Trei is instantly sky-mad, and desperate to be a kajurai himself. The only one who fully understands his passion is Araene, his cousin, who has her own dreams of becoming a chef. But she is a woman, and on the Islands women can only marry and have lots of children.
But Araene's dreams take an unexpected turn when she discovers that she has a great gift that she shouldn't have. With Trei's help, Araene makes it come true, and just in time, for the whole fate of the Islands may rest on their shoulders.
Review: I wish I had better things to say about The Floating Islands, but I don't. Chapter 1 dumps the Reader right in the middle of the story, waiting until Chapter 3 to explain anything at all. Good luck trying to figure out which country is which, or who is who. The names of places and people are just thrown at you, and to make them more confusing, they almost all have an "ei" or "ai" ending, and there is no pronunciation guide in the back. So you'll spend over half your time slurring through everyone's vowel-infested name.
The writing is at best amateur. The Author uses the same word twice or more in one paragraph, so it reads very redundantly and blockishly. She does not believe in the period, but she's a strong believer in describing every single little movement a character makes. These she then strings together in one very long sentence with tons of commas and no end in sight. Now, Charles Dickens, Jonathan Swift, and Jane Austen can do unending sentences, but only because their style is witty and they aren't stringing together every single little movement a character is making. Okay, Charles Dickens does that sometimes, but it's purely for humor. On top of her run-on sentences, Ms. Neumeier's transitions are horrible. A character will be talking and then suddenly they're in a different room. And things also just happen for no real reason. For instance, Araene is making her way home in one scene along a street she knows very well. The Author goes on a long splurge of descriptions, and then suddenly Araene is lost. It reminded me of the writing exercises I used to do when I was younger. I would start a story with no apparent storyline. Things happened just so I could practice at phrasing, transitions, ect. And that's what it felt like reading this book - it felt like a storyboard.
Past the first five or seven chapters, things do improve. It's like this is where the Author originally started writing the story, and then someone told her that she needed to put something before it, so she cobbled a few earlier chapters together and didn't put much thought into them. Her writing improves a little bit, there's a more tangible storyline, and the Reader finally gets some of the world's politics and situations explained. The Author still suffers from an acute obsession with spices (though it feels as if her knowledge of spices is pretty limited, for she only talks of a very few over and over again), and there is still no pronunciation guide, but it doesn't feel quite so . . . storyboardish.
The Floating Islands was relatively interesting once you get past the annoying chapters, but I don't think I'll be adding it to my collection.
Overall Rating: KK