Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Akarnae by Lynette Noni

Title: Akarnae
Author: Lynette Noni
Series: The Medoran Chronicles, Book One
Publisher: Pantera Press
Published Date: 1 February 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Pantera Press

With just one step, sixteen-year-old Alexandra Jennings's world changes--literally.

Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities. Desperate to return home, she learns that only a man named Professor Marselle can help her... but he's missing.

While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora's boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of their own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can't ignore her fear that something unexpected... something sinister... is looming.

An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex's shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race's survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home?

Will Alex risk her entire world--and maybe even her life--to save Medora?
(summary from Goodreads)

A fun YA fantasy read, Akarnae is full of magic and adventure.

I'm going to put this right out there first - Akarnae is very reminiscent of many Harry Potter elements. The trio of friends, a wise old man mentor, a magical school, an MC thrown into a world full of magic and expected to learn, a class focused on magical creatures, a huge family that are very close to each other and see what I mean. This isn't too surprising considering Noni freely admits her love of Harry Potter. Some may judge this book harshly for this however. For me, it works. While I certainly made the comparisons while reading, I also found it enjoyable. I haven't quite fallen in love with Akarnae like I did Harry Potter though. Still, there was that sense of wonder. It took me a little bit to truly get into the story, but once I did I was hard pressed to put it down. This is mostly thanks to Noni's world building. Medora is a fascinating world, and the whole secret sentient Library is awesome. A lot of Akarnae is Alex's adventures through the Library, putting the pieces together, finding her place and her purpose, and it's quite the ride. There's a lot going on on the outskirts of this story - other worlds, the reasons the Library remains hidden, the disappearance of an entire world, the villains ultimate plans, characters who make brief but memorable appearances - but most of this book is Alex and her navigating her classes in this new world. As the first of a planned five book series, this is definitely only an introduction. There's just enough offered right now that I'm eager for the next book.

There are quite a number of characters throughout Akarnae, and getting to know them is entertaining. Jordan and Bear are hilarious, and I adore Bear's family. The easy friendship between Alex and these boys is nice. Darrius is very similar to Dumbledore and Gandalf, and I can't help but be charmed by him. His part in the story is a little obvious though. I am very much in love with Fletcher and intrigued by Ghost. Those are my honourable mentions. Aven oozes psycho villain feels, which is always lovely. For the most part I liked Alex, she's smart and strong. She's set to become truly kickass, which is cool. My biggest problem though is all the easy acceptance. There's a little too much "oh, it's another world, just accept the differences without question" for me - and not just from Alex. To me, this often felt like a cop-out to move the story along rather than build upon the world. Sometimes I could see the benefit - we don't want the story to be mired in detail, yes - but at other times it frustrated me. "Hey, my new best friend's father just tried to murder me but I'm going to let it go as I'm not sure what's happening and I don't want to cause problems!" Um, what now? There's elements like this that are obviously meant to generate storylines further along in the these series, which is great, but they're not handled exactly right to sit well with me now

Oh, I should also mention - the best thing about Akarnae? No love interest!! *faints* There's definitely attraction between Alex and one of her classmates, Kaiden, but that's IT. Seriously, I'm shocked. And so very overjoyed! Huge kudos to Noni for this.

Akarnae is an entertaining start to this fantasy series. I'm looking forward to Alex's next adventure.



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