Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Caszandra

Caszandra by Andrea K. Höst

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading this series back to back in a few days I'm ready to share some thoughts.

How to write this with the least amount of spoilers?

Let's just start with the basics.

Cassandra Devlin's life is strange. She ends up in a different planet at age 17 and discovers that it's inhabitants were forced to leave to yet another planet hundreds of years ago. She is rescued by a search mission from the exiled and learns a hole bunch of things: there is an alternate space called Ena, sort of like a 'dream space', there are scary monsters called Ionoth from that reality that escape to the 'real' world through tears in this Ena, and must be exterminated. There are groups of young people specially talented with telekinesis, Sights...and basically super powers, who are trained and solely dedicated to fight against this monsters. They are called Sentari (part of the search party who found her). And.... ta-daaaa Cassandra ends up being discovered as a person who possesses significant powers of unknown nature/reach. Basically this is the fast version of the first half of book #1. Phew, not too spoilery, I hope!

The whole trilogy gravitates around the discoveries Cassandra has in this strange new world, the politics, people she meets, befriends (and yes, loves), fighting monsters, learning her new abilities, living in a strange new place, learning the language & culture (a good ethnographic experience of observation), immersing in the mythology and explanations of the world she is in and understanding/accepting her situation. It's good, fun and full of adventures! It does get a bit long during the descriptions of every single detail of her missions, but keeps you glued.

Her voice is very real, and I feel the way it's written (as a diary), works pretty well.

I adored the characters and I truly enjoyed traveling with her to this world. It felt very very VERY real, and we're talking about monsters, super powers and an interface installed in your brain, so kuddos to Andrea K Höst for making it believable. The world building is flawless. I think this story will accompany me for a long time: it really made an impression on me! (for this I'm adding 1 more star to my initial reaction after finishing this last book + the Gratuitous Epilogue).

But *cringes while writing this*, I felt cheated by the end :( -and I dived immediately to the Epilogue. Why? because soooooooooo much was left unresolved. I won't go into the specifics because this will become a huge list of spoilers. But briefly:
1- Many characters were unnecessary: their issues were just mentioned, sort of developed and then forgotten.
2- The whole original exodus from Muina... yeah, what about it?
3- WTF happened in Nuri?
And many more.

I feel that the book should have balanced more the personal things Cass experiences with the actual things happening in the world she is living. Less Emo entries about the 1,000 times she is a medic unit, her dreams and all her issues and more about her surroundings. I feel this trilogy is a teaser for a bigger story: I would love to read a book based on this world, since I'm not inclined to know anything more about Cassandra.

Höst is very smart with Cassandra's story, by ending her Gratuitous Epilogue like this: 'Because there is nothing better than finding out how things end. And starting a new story.'

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