by Erica Cameron
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In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.
On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.
But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya's home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she's never seen.
To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.
Island of Exiles was one the most unique books I’ve ever read. The world that was created was fascinating, and I’ve never encountered one even close to how it was described. On top of that, the characters that appeared on the pages were larger than life. And the way the plot unfolded was completely entertaining. Island of Exiles was beyond original. So I wish there wasn’t a but, but there is. I never fully connected to any of the characters. And on top of that, the names that were created for ranks, magic and basic terms in their world was beyond confusing and wouldn’t stick me.
What is pain when death bites at our heels?
In the first chapter alone, you get a good grasp on the harsh lifestyle and what it’s like to live on the isolated island of Shiara. Each day is a fight to survive. It’s completely brutal. From the terrifying creatures, to the intense terrain, to the unforgiving weather, they are constantly under attack. Khya, our heroine, is a trained warrior. She scouts, fights and protects those in her group and her Clan. She is the definition of kick ass! But at the same time, it’s easy to understand that Khya was raised to put the Clan before herself. The needs and safety of the clan will always be more important than just one person.
“Where’d you learn to fight like that?” It really is galling to know that Tessen was right about Yorri, but my pride in my brother is enough to trump even that.
My brother smirks. “Where do you think? From watching you.”
Well, that is until something happens to her brother, Yorri. She loves him more than life itself, and finds herself on a different path because of her brother. On her journey, her world gets flipped upside down. Not only in regards to what she knew, but also for who she can and can’t trust. One of my favorite people that kept appearing in her life was Terren. He would never go away, no matter how much Khya wished it lol. I quickly formed an opinion on him, and I loved every single time he graced the pages with his presence. The moments they were together were so much fun!
I don’t breathe as Tessen reaches out to brush the tips of his fingers along the line of my jaw, an almost sad smile on his lips. “I see you , Khya. I’ve always seen you. And except for your tendency to pretend that you hate me most days, I like what I see.”
So while this book seemed like a huge win win, I unfortunately struggled. There were so many new terms, and I never could grasp them. Between their ranks, kind of magic and basic world terms, there was 80ish new words to learn. And while that didn’t seem like a lot, only a handful stuck with me. On top of that, I struggled keeping track of who was who. Their names were so unique, and even though I made a cheat sheet, they just wouldn’t stick.
So I closed the book lost. Because on one hand, I loved the story. It was one the most unique book I’ve ever encountered, and I was beyond fascinated. I loved how the plot was fast paced and where the twists took the story. But not being able to connect to the characters, and also getting lost in terminology every few paragraphs, definitely pulled me out of the story again and again. So if you’re looking for a unique fantasy, then definitely give this one a try. You may adapt easier than I did, and therefore fall head over heels in love with this book. But for me, it just didn’t work out in the end, so I unfortunately won’t be picking up the sequel.
*ARC kindly provided by Entangled Teen via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*