We’ve all had those books where it starts off as the greatest thing ever and but somehow along the way loses that spark and makes you reconsider why you’re reading it at all. (Actually, if you think about it, this happens a lot in general life. That ice cream tub you bought at midnight for a Netflix marathon that you’re suddenly regretting. That ski trail where you’re suddenly lost, out of your league, and sure to get your pass revoked when Ski Patrol finds you. That phone call with an old friend that just won’t end. That bike commute in the pouring rain. That evening coffee and now you can’t sleep. That toddler which you soon realize is just a mewling poop factory for much of its early life.)
First, the good things about Unwrapped Sky, because it has many.
The language. Oh, the language. If you love prose for prose’s sake, I would recommend this book to you. Poetic, poignant, pithy, and a plethora of other adjectives that start with P.
This is a strong and engaging secondary world. It draws you in from the first page and captivates you throughout. Think along the lines of Max Gladstone and Brian McClellan when it comes to that quasi-industrialized society filled with cafes, newspapers, philosophy, and the like. Better yet, here’s an article the author wrote about his world if you want a quick glimpse.
The POVs work spectacularly. We start with two long chapters with each character—long enough to get you invested, but short enough to hook you into craving more. From there, they’re in a whirlwind of a tightly woven plot. Every action affects everyone else and the ramifications spiral out in spectacular fashion.
It’s also nuanced in a way I haven’t seen since A Game of Thrones. We’re seeing all sides of the revolution and the POVs make you care about it all. There are no antagonists or protagonists. Each character is somewhere in the middle, as it is in real life.
However, for all of this, it’s missing a certain spark; a drive.
I can’t even really put my finger on it. All I know is that from about halfway through the book to the finish, it was a definite trudge.
(I’ve read enough books now to recognize the feeling of being excited to read a book versus being excited to finish. There’s a distinction, and I know that there are plenty out there that fall into the first category.)
The conclusion was unsatisfying since it didn’t fulfil any of the promises that the story set up. Whatever happened was something the reader didn’t care about since it came out of left field.
The story felt organic rather than something constructed for a novel, but I think it went too far into that direction. It was a “slice of life” into this world, but without a compelling narrative to see us through.
Quality prose and a quality story are two different things, and the former does not cover your ass for a lack of the latter.
And here’s the most telling thing: I didn’t read the last 20 pages. I simply got to that point and just thought “yup, I’m done with this book,” and put it down.
Who does that?
Anyway, because I can’t quite explain that feeling of something missing, I’m going for the cop-out of just linking you to Liz Bourke’s review on Tor.com called “Symbols Without Substance.” Go read it by clicking here.
Overall, this book got me super excited in the first 100 pages, and just couldn’t deliver.