August 29, 2015

Book review: The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky by David Litwack

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After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light—two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.

Children of the Republic, Helena and Jason were inseparable in their youth, until fate sent them down different paths. Grief and duty sidetracked Helena’s plans, and Jason came to detest the hollowness of his ambitions.

These two damaged souls are reunited when a tiny boat from the Blessed Lands crashes onto the rocks near Helena’s home after an impossible journey across the forbidden ocean. On board is a single passenger, a nine-year-old girl named Kailani, who calls herself “the Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.” A new and perilous purpose binds Jason and Helena together again, as they vow to protect the lost innocent from the wrath of the authorities, no matter the risk to their future and freedom.

But is the mysterious child simply a troubled little girl longing to return home? Or is she a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of a godless Republic, as the outlaw leader of an illegal religious sect would have them believe? Whatever the answer, it will change them all forever… and perhaps their world as well.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky started out with a great deal of promise. In a YA-dystopian-ish society, Helena and Jason rescue a girl whose boat crashes upon the shore of their nearby beach. The girl, Kailani, is mysterious, calling herself the daughter of the sea and the sky. But who is she really? What is she doing there? Why did she leave her home?

We don't find out the answers until the very end, but unfortunately, the journey there wasn't always smooth. For instance, I thought that the first third of the novel was filled with long, unnecessary scenes and flashbacks that detracted from the flow of the story.

Things got more interesting again in the second half of the book. A plot emerges surrounding Kailani's identity because some people are ready to believe that she is the daughter of the sea and the sky while others are skeptical. The excitement grows toward an inevitable confrontation when the answers raised in the beginning are finally answered.

If not for the first third of the book (but after Kailani's arrival), this could have been a great book. Instead, it is merely good but still a worthwhile read for fans of the genre.

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