Review: “The Never Tilting World” by Rin Chupeco

The Never Tilting World
Title: The Never Tilting World
Series: Never Tilting World #1
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves
ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Two young goddesses try to right a world gone wrong in Rin Chupeco’s newest fantasy duology The Never Tilting World.

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 unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth – a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wrecked 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 mouthy desert scavenger – set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

“A demoness is what men call a goddess they cannot control.”

A strong opening for a strong story, The Never Tilting World blew me away. From the amazing world-building down to all the carefully laid out plot twists, this book had everything I wanted and more. It entertained and made me think: about sisters and that invisible thread connecting them, about power and sacrifice, and of the broken world handed down to us and what we could do to heal it.

Rin Chupeco’s writing really shone through in this book.

With details so vividly described they’re almost tangible, this story’s world-building is just something else. The idea of a world that has stopped spinning, split in two by a great unknowable abyss was a fresh one to me. The two halves – one veiled in the darkness of a never-ending night frozen and battered by tempestuous storms, the other languishing under the heat of a set that never sets – and the element-based magic system reminded me a bit of The Avatar: The Last Airbender and Mad Max.

Having multiple point-of-view characters can be a tough thing to work with. Sometimes it works, others it doesn’t. For TNTW though, it’s the latter. In fact, I think, it’s the best way to tell this particular story.

The two halves of the split world setting of this world is a huge ground to cover. Each side’s widely (and wildly) differing natures create an equally diverse set of challenges for everyone in this book. Chupeco, however, used her characters effectively and maximized the use of the first-person narrative. The four POV characters – Odessa and Lan, Haidee and Arjun – give readers a complete and comprehensive view of the story’s world all while moving the plot.

I must admit, for the first 20% of the book I felt kind of overwhelmed. There were a lot of foundational parts of the world-building thrown in with the narrative in the opening part and it was a sensory overload. Processing and separating the plot while trying to get a feel of what the world looked like and how it functioned became a task. Once things start gelling together though, everything just flowed and those bits laid out at the beginning of the book made a whole lot of sense. Plot twists (especially that ONE involving a supporting character) were deftly foreshadowed without sinking down the surprise factor. This is actually one of the first books I’ve read in a while that I wasn’t able to predict how things will go, and I was all the better for it.

The main characters were a treat to read about. They all have distinct voices and unique personalities, making them easy to tell apart. I enjoyed reading about them – Arjun more than most because he’s just hilarious even when he’s not trying. But, as fun as following their journeys through their world and, in turn, watching them grow as characters, I wasn’t able to really personally connect with any of them. This is not something necessarily bad, it’s just a matter of different experiences. Nevertheless, this difference did not stop me from rooting for all four MCs to succeed (or stay alive and unharmed.)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It’s an epic adventure featuring young characters who are willing to take on the challenge of righting the wrongs of those who came before them – to break the cycle. It tackles climate change in all its harshness and destruction, but it still carries with it a hopeful note.

The Never Tilting World is a great start to a new series. It tied off a handful of the plot threads it pulled in but left enough to give the sequel a comfortable starting point. I definitely have a number of questions I want to be answered (What exactly did Asteria and Latona do?) and you can be sure that the moment the next installment hits the shelves, I will be making a grab for it. This is a must-read!

about the author

Rin Chupeco

Raised in Manila, Philippines, RIN CHUPECO writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds. She is the author of The Bone Witch series, The Suffering, and The Girl from the Well.

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Review: “Darius the Great is Not Okay” by Adib Khorram

37506437Title: Darius the Great is Not Okay

Author: Adib Khorram

Publisher: Dial Books / Penguin Publishing Group

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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(Digital ARC graciously provided by Penguin Publishing Group via their First to Read program)

 

A bi-racial teen discovers the other half of his heritage in Adib Khorram’s heartbreaking and hilarious coming-of-age tale.

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming – especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darious – the original Persian version of his name – and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darious on his own.

I didn’t know what I was expecting when I requested for Darius the Great is Not Okay. The blurb looked interesting and I was looking for something light to read, so uncontrollable me hit the request button. Little did I know that I will be handed one of the best books I’ll read this year.

There’s just so much to love in this debut – an awkward, relatable main character who will endear himself to readers, a healthy friendship, an honest portrayal of depression, and the sounds, smells and taste of Iran. I just gobbled everything up!

This one relies heavily on its main character, Darius, an awkward, nerdy teen who struggles with depression. Darius does not fit anywhere, not in school where he is a prime target for bullies like Fatty Bolger; not even in his own home where, no matter what he does, his father seems to disappointed of him. So, when his parents take him and his sister to Iran to visit his ailing father for the first and probably the last time, he’s even more out of his element.

It was so precious reading Darius’ growth. He starts out with pretty much a very negative perception of almost everything. He doesn’t really have any friends at school, except for the Persian girl who he occasionally have lunch with. He also doesn’t have a close relationship with his father, often referring to him as an “übermensch.” But, in Iran, he slowly opens up and instantly connects with Sohrab, his grandparents’ young neighbor and the son of his mother’s childhood best friend.

Sohrab becomes Darius’ first real friend and their friendship, I think, is something that both boys needed. Like Darius, Sohrab also doesn’t fit in. He is Baha’i, and this makes him a prime target for the other boys in his neighborhood. Through Sohrab, Darius discovers how it feels like to be included, to have someone to talk to and someone who’ll give him that much needed silence when he needed it, and he learns to trust himself in the process enough to start opening up. himself to the other people in his life.

As much as I love that though, what got me is the realistic and very truthful portrayal of depression in this book. Since the story follows Darius very closely, some parts may be clouded by his persistent self-loathing and overreactivity. The talk Darius and his dad had nearing the end of the book tugged at my heartstrings and made me spill a few tears. It was just so sincere and honest, and practically one of the best scenes in the whole book.

Darius’ sexuality isn’t discussed much, only hinted at, and I was actually pretty okay with that, the same way that having no romance was just fine. I think the story’s main point was to have Darius open himself up, and Adib Khorram accomplishes it successfully.

Darius the Great is Not Okay is an amazing coming-of-age story with a main character who’ll endear himself to readers. This one comes with high recommendations from me.


adib-headshotAdib Khorram is an author, a graphic designer, and a tea enthusiast. He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. A theater kid in high school, he went on to study design and technical theater at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, with an emphasis in lighting design. He later attended one year of film school in Vancouver, BC.

He returned to Kansas City after school, and has worked in the event production industry ever since. His first novel, DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY, will be published in August 2018.

When he’s not writing or working at his dayjob, he enjoys swimming, ice skating, food, wine, video games, board games, and Kansas City barbecue.

You can find him on Twitter (@adibkhorram), Instagram (@adibkhorram), or on the web at adibkhorram.com