If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know I love D. Wallace Peach. You can read an interview she was gracious enough to do as well as my reviews of her The Rose Shield Tetralogy. She was thoughtful enough after those reviews to gift me this book because she thought I’d enjoy it. I was so blown away by the gift, I held on to it without doing anything, afraid I’d lose the magic of it happening? It seems so silly to specifically not use a gift, but that’s where I was, I guess. I finally took the plunge, and she was right!
She takes us to a world where they’ve already played enough with nature, that they were required to burn everything and start over. Have they learned their lesson? With plants, potentially, but since they’ve made fashion statements by trading features an expected part of high society, it seems unlikely. Now, this isn’t your typical “face off” moment (I feel like some of the audience may be too young for that reference. If you are, it’s a terrible movie, don’t bother watching it.), these changes bind with your DNA in a way that adding wings to your back or a fur pelt instead of skin across your shoulders impacts the features your offspring may carry in an unpredictable way. The result? People wanting to switch back and forth between features and human skin. And, as we all know, any time there’s a supply and demand mismatch, people will take to nefarious activities to make money off of the scarcity of an item. We follow Aeris as he comes of age, learns about his society, and wrestles with what this means for him and how he’s going to deal with it.
As always, let’s cover some things I didn’t love:
- I felt like there could’ve been a little more development into how society got to where it was. Although there were a couple of references to “the burn” and this not being the main point of the book, one of the things I love about Peach’s books is the world building and I was sad to feel some of that extra missing.
- Mylea felt like a weird character. She’s the thread that links all of the characters, but, other than wanting to learn to read, she lacked any discerning qualities, traits, etc, and was just there.
- Aeris develops deep friendships. People he’s willing to fight and kill to protect, but I feel like we miss the mundane moments that makes him bond with them. Much of the interaction we see is them strategizing or discussing the ins and outs of societal constructs. While important to the overall story, it left me lacking the sense connection that Aeris felt toward them at the end of the book.
Ok, now, the stuff I did love:
- The ambiguity of how Mylea ends up. Who’s with who? Did anyone end up being chosen? What were the feelings? Did I just complain about a lack of details directly above this? Yes, I did. Am I now excited about a lack of details? Yes, I am. What can I say? I’m an onion with many layers.
- Aeris’ growth and how that aligns with his looks. Who hasn’t gotten a haircut, with varying degrees of success, after a life change like a break up? While not really what’s happening, Peach gives the audience some physical markers that help bring us through his journey, not of learning about society or his father or his opinions, but of himself. The growth we experience with him is the kind that leaves one thinking, and I like that.
- To me, this book was a huge commentary on our consumerist society and the lengths of criminality accepted to hold on to this need for what society deems necessary. Maybe I’m digging where there’s nothing, but I sincerely don’t think so. If we look at the world around us, we allow companies to use carcinogens on products to ensure output meets the demand we want (not need) or to ensure we get the color we want to make our food look good. I mean, women have surgeries on their labias to ensure they can wear tight pants rather than just buying a bigger size. *blink blink* How could one not see a clear commentary Peach is providing us on how this impacts the haves and the have nots? And I. 👏 Am. 👏 Here for it. 👏
Do I recommend this book? Wholeheartedly. I’m so glad I got over myself and read it. It didn’t kill the magic, it multiplied it.
Until next time: Stay safe. Share love. Read books.