Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith
Radiant by Karina Smith Sumner
First in the Towers Trilogy
Xhea lives in the ruins beneath the floating Towers, where most of the magical influential people reside, and even in the slums she’s an outcast. Xhea is magicless. She lives in a world where magic is key to everyday survival and she has to pickpocket and con people to survive. She does have something she can use to her advantage- she has the ability to see ghosts still tethered to this world. A rich man from the floating City comes to Xhea with a spirit of a young girl attached to him. Shai, is a Radiant, she has so much power generating within her that she sustains her Tower to keep floating in the sky. Shai’s Tower won’t let her go so easily and this outcast is going to have to learn to make a friend and save a life.
"Maybe up close you don’t notice it, but Towers are always falling, always rising. Fortunes made and lost, goals achieved, lives ruined. Little shifts of magic and status, horizon to horizon.”
Radiant is like witches and zombies in a dystopian world, but not actual witches or zombies. The most unique thing about Radiant in a sea of overhyped dystopian dribble is that the world itself is complex. The world ended long ago and the humans that remain all have magic within them. Certain people have enough magic that they are able to sustain or help sustain Towers- which are giant skyscrapers floating in the sky. People who don’t have this much ability or weren’t born into families that live there live in the desolate remains of New York City. Xhea as a character in this world is even more complex because she is magicless, or so she thinks. It is revealed very early on that Xhea does have a magical ability, but it isn’t one of much use and she is technically still useless in this magical world. The zombies who aren’t really zombies are even more complicated. They are basically these creatures who roam around at night in the slums of NYC and it’s not 100% revealed if they eat people are if the reanimations of dead people from before the destruction of the city occurred or after. This probably makes zero to no sense.
The coolest thing about Radiant is that there are flying elevators! How cool is that? The elevators are controlled by magic and Xhea doesn’t use them for a long portion of the book because well she is magicless and has no use for them.
Also because Xhea doesn’t have magical abilities her whole world is only black and white, which is a pretty amazing concept and it was very well done. I liked the feeling of a bleak outlook through Xhea’s eyes. It made it easier to see how different she was in this world.
"Normal people don’t have ghosts.”
The main female characters are Xhea and Shai. I really like both Xhea and Shai. Xhea has a lot of great backstory that is slowly revealed bit by bit in different times of the story. Her past is what really molded Xhea to be the reclusive, untrusting, snarky person we meet. She was also very sneaky, but it’s a talent she needs to survive and evade the people who try to capture her. Xhea did have her annoying moments and there were times when she would just become a drag to read about (but it isn’t overwhelming to the story). I like Shai, but I also feel like she didn’t have enough development or background. She did get a good bit, but I feel like I never truly met Shai. It was always Shai the Ghost, not Shai before she died.
Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: Xhea-6.5 Shai-6
There is NO romance in this story.
I know it’s a weird thing to come across now days in YA dystopian, but there’s only friendship and me shipping Xhea with this guy named Brend. I’m not 100% sure why I shipped them because I read this story last year (June-November).
There weren’t too many characters in this novel besides Shai and Xhea, but the ones introduced didn’t feel concrete or as impactful to the story’s development as they should have been.
Character Scale: 5
The thing that bogs Radiant down is that there is too much going on at one time. Just the world alone is weighty. Throw in all the action and character development of Xhea and this book feels like it’s sinking in water. This book is 400 pages and that’s not a lot, but because of how much is packed into this story it felt a bit overwhelming. The ending was solid and action packed, fun, but it was wrapped up very nicely. Maybe a little too nicely for the first novel in a trilogy. While I do think I’ll give this series a shot, with the ending I feel like it’s not something I need to pick up because it was pretty satisfying.
Cover Thoughts: I like the cover a lot. It has a very good perception of the world and it fits the story, but why does the girl have blonde hair? I was under the impression that she wasn’t white because she had dreads.
Thank you, Edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
I'm sorry for my absence. I've been in a bit of reviewing slump and lost my mojo. I'm trying to focus on school right now and while I want to write reviews every week or even several times a week, I can't at this moment.