Stellar rep and an amazing base concept, yet this one fell painfully flat for me due to cliched characters that I never grew to care about and an overabundance of ideas that made the story feel bloated.
Rating: 2 Stars
The Never Tilting World
Author: Rin Chupeco
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Synopsis: Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.
But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.
Everything I’d read about this book intrigued me: a world thrown into climate chaos because it stopped spinning, four POVs of four intriguing and diverse characters, sand dolphins, and more. Everything sounded perfect. Until it wasn’t. Nothing in the actual story grabbed my attention and the characters felt like a mash up of clichés. The bones of a great story were there, but wow did this one not deliver for me.
Let’s start with the good: representation! I loved that not only was this an Asian heavy story, but also had a main lesbian couple (and none of them were buried). There was also PTSD and amputee rep, which is not something you get very often. I like books with a large range of representations, and we need more. Always more!
And then there is the main concept: the world has stopped turning due to “The Breaking” so one side is a hellaciously hot, desert landscape and the other is icy and dark. Awesome! Please don’t ask me how it happened though because I have zero idea. The mythology about the world is dragged out through differing reports from either side of the world and I never got a solid grasp on what really was going on in this world. I will say that I started barely skimming this book at the 35% mark because I just was NOT connecting with it at all, so maybe things got better explained further down the road. But not having a real good idea of the world by the 35% mark is not good and hinders the enjoyment of reading.
The characters are where I really could never connect. There are the twin goddesses who don’t know the other is alive. And both are complete clichés of princesses. Odessa is sick and weak, with an overbearing mother, and she eventually decides to go off on her own to save the world because she is tired of secrets and being lied to. Haidee is carefree, privileged, and a mechanical whiz who would rather spend her time fixing machines than choosing a suitor. She also decides to run off and save the world because she is tired of lies and secrets. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference in their POVs and the only way I knew whose chapter I was in was from the side characters around them. Lan (Odessa’s sapphic love interest) and Arjun (Haidee’s love interest) have better uniqueness to them, but they still never developed enough for me to care about them. Lan and Odessa’s relationship started off page so not only did we miss the fun tension of a new relationship, but they felt like instalove because of so little time seeing their relationship grow. Now Arjun and Haidee, those two are total instalove. I wanted to like it because they were basically enemies to lovers (my favorite) but the whole growth of their relationship felt flat. I’m usually one who wants romance in my books, but I really could have done without the romance of this book.
As I mentioned earlier, I started skimming this book at about 35%. I will typically never do this with an ARC I have requested, but I couldn’t find any desire to pick this book up. At about the 50% mark I started skipping whole pages in an effort to just get to the end with a basic idea of what had happened. Well, even my basic ideas of the plot is wildly confused. I never got a good idea of the magic system (they have “gates” and it’s elemental based? That’s all I got) and if you asked me right now, I couldn’t tell you who the “villain” of the story was. It felt like there was too much the author wanted to do in this story and the story just ended up being cluttered and confusing. There was no point in the story that I felt like I knew what was going on and what the motivations were.
I truly feel like the bones of the story were there and that if there had been better editing of all the concepts in the story this could have been a book that I enjoyed. But it just wasn’t, and that is a damn shame