Review: Take Back the Skies (Take Back the Skies #1) - Lucy Saxon

Release Date: June 3rd 2014
Published By: Bloomsbury
Pages: 384
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Purchase: Click here to purchase

Rating: 1 out of 5

Synopsis: Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.

So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all

Review: I want to start off with a big round of applause for the author. She’s my age! She’s my age and has already published a book! She makes my achievements feel thoroughly inferior!

Now, getting onto the actual review.

Catherine Hunter has lived a very sheltered life in the aristocratic sector of Anglya. She has been privy to luxury, and not being apart of the country’s Collections. However, she is not happy. This is not the life she wants to lead. So, she runs away and becomes ‘Cat,’ a street rat. Stowing away on the Stormdancer, her adventures begin.

So. This book. I’m not really a fan. While I loved the whole ‘steampunk pirates’ premise, I found myself deeply unimpressed by this story. This is not going to be a happy review, I’m afraid.

My first big issue is with the writing. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way. Initially, I thought it was the constant use of passive voice. It can be quite grating. Then, I realised. Saxon’s voice is very young. There were things that needed further refining (i.e. the characters would find something out, and instead of brushing over the regurgitation of information to other characters, the readers would have to read it again), and I think the author’s tone itself is very much better suited for a younger audience.

In regards to plot, I found that everything was quite rushed. Because of it, there was a severe lack of development in most elements of the story.

The characters. Eh. There wasn’t a whole lot of development in any of them. This includes Cat/Catherine. She frustrated me to no end. Beyond the whole ‘I’m-just-as-capable-as-a-boy’ thing (more on that later), we don’t get a good understanding on who she is as a person. I loathed Fox. Could not stand him. I’m alllllll for a brooding love interest, if done properly. He wasn’t done properly. We get a very minor glimpse into why he is the way he is, but I’d still throw his sexist ass to the curb. Sorry, is that inappropriate?

The relationships jumped. Like, one second everyone was just meeting Cat, and the next? It was all la-di-da family times. While it’s clear that the crew developed a bond quickly, it’s unfortunate because us, as readers, don’t get to witness it. It’s at this point (rather than the reiterating of info) that Saxon glosses over things. Because of this, it makes the story quite stunted, and abrupt.

Likewise, the (unsurprising) blossoming romance between Cat and Fox was very stilted. There was little chemistry between the two (in my opinion), and like with the crew, the relationship jumped. I know there’s the old wives tale that if a boy makes fun of you, he likes you. Spoiler alert: just because people say boys should do that, doesn’t mean boys should do it. Don’t send that sort of message to readers.

I found the dialogue really stiff. Especially so in Cat’s case. I understand that the world of Anglya has a little bit of a historical basis, but that really needed working on.

Speaking of which, the world. While the author got the bare basics, very little specifics were explained. I’m talking why the rich hate the poor so much, what the storms are, etc. Hopefully, these would be elaborated on in the coming sequels.

On a more specific level, some things just didn’t make sense. Why does the crew go ahead with Cat’s plan when they barely know her? Ugh. *Frustration*

I have one more thing. Then, I’m done. Pinky promise. The messages the author pushes. No, wait. I don’t have a real issue with what she pushes, it’s how she pushes it. One being that Cat was a strong heroine. On literally every other page, Cat says something along the lines of ‘I’m just as capable as a boy.’ Especially, when she’s around Fox. As a feminist, I already agree with that sentiment. Girls are as capable as boys! You just don’t need to shove it down my throat at every opportunity. Instead of saying it, Saxon could have just as easily shown it. Through action. Readers are intelligent. They don’t need to be told things over and over again - we’ll pick up on it just fine by ourselves.

Also the whole ‘must-hate-the-government’ thing. I’d be cool with it, if I knew more about the world. While things (especially towards the end) become very graphic and disgusting, I would’ve liked a reason to hate the government at the beginning. For reasons other than Cat hating she has to be married to an idiot.

Wow. Ok. Review over. I really wasn’t a fan of this book. Unsurprisingly, one star.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with this e-ARC.

What do you think?

  • Cassie says:

    *spoiler warning in case you’re reading the comments but haven’t read the book*
    Oh my gosh, I understand what you mean entirely, although my main issue was the ending…everything was way too easy (I was honestly expecting it to end up as some sort of trap), and there was a significant lack of injuries, considering.
    Also, the motives for both the bad guys was the same: they’re both insane…like, seriously?

    • Jocie says:

      You’re totally right about the ending! I kept expecting something to happen and IT NEVER DID. I didn’t even think about mentioning that.

      I honestly just don’t know how the series is supposed to progress? Like, unless a *spoiler alert* certain someone is actually certainly something, I don’t think the story is worth 6 books? (I realise how vague that spoiler alert was, so sorry. Hopefully you’ll understand. If not, I can try again.) But maybe it’s because I’m just not a fan at all. :\

  • After all these negative reviews, to be honest, I’m probably just going to skip this one. I feel bad because I have a solicited review copy but even if I do read it, I’ll probably come out with a negative review that similar to everyone else’s anyway. Thank you for sharing Jocie!

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