Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Archipelago by Mati Raine | Review

Author: Mati Raine
Pages: 353
Publisher: Fantastic Journeys Publishing
Goodreads rating: 4.27 stars
Published: February 2014
Source: Physical copy for review from author


14-year old Lilly Douglas is a girl who has been sheltered from the world since the moment she was born. Gifted with avian like wings and strands of lilac hair, she never realizes how different she is. After a terrifying attack on her home, she is forced to run from everything she knew, and find shelter at a place called Charity Academy. Here students have little to worry about beyond homework and classes, and they spend most of their time learning to control their powers, embracing their identities as 'Strands': students with extraordinary abilities, united by the lilac hairs they have. But they are not alone in the world.

56 miles south-east, into the Bitterroot Wilderness, is a dark place known as Firestone Institution. Here a 16-year old boy named Cory Trask has made his home with a personality as icy as his powers. Survival driven, Cory works for a man named Dr. Kibbsty and is the leader in the pursuit of Lilly. He thinks of little beyond the orders he is given, and life is nothing more than a game: one where only the strongest survive. As their paths cross, they bring an uncertain future in their wake that will cause all these teens to question what it really means to be Strands. 

My initial reaction to this book was YA meets X-Men, heck yes!  I wasn't disappointed in that aspect, but there was a lot more than just an X-Men style novel in my hands.  The story follows Lilly, a girl who sprouted wings as a child and was hidden from society for the majority of her life.  While her parents try to keep her away from prying eyes, she does get out of the house every so often, wearing large jackets to cover up her wings {I can't even imagine trying to hide giant, white angel-type wings}.  On one such outing a man notices her, and knows what she is - a Strand.  All the mutants in this book are called such because of the small cluster of lilac hair they have, one group of about 15 strands for each mutation or gift they possess.

Lilly is thrust into this world of gifts, talents and mutations almost overnight.  She went from being sheltered and only having her parents as friends to having a building full of kids who were different like her, kids she didn't have to hide from.  Its kind of easy to see how she would want to either shrink back from everyone or do whatever she can to win their approval {both happen, and the latter really sets the tone for the last half of the book}.

While there are a lot of elements that read like an X-Men storyline, this does hold its own.  The people with abilities in this book are mostly children, whereas the X-Men are vastly adults {now I'm talking the actual X-Men, not the kids at X's school for gifted youngsters}.  Not entirely sure why {the author touches on it briefly, but we don't really get the whole story - maybe they're better at hiding their abilities and acting normal?}, but there is one adult with abilities who has a nice little part in the book.  While the children at Charity Academy are what I mentally associated with Professor X's school, the Firestone kids are not exactly Magneto's group of mutants {they are WAY too cruel, and Dr Kibbsty is nothing like Magneto}.  The woman who built up the Charity Academy is not really a Professor X, either.  Too maternal, and too standoffish with the kids at the school.  Plus, neither of these adults leading these groups of kids have any kind of mutation - they're the ones experimenting on the kids {okay, so that's only Dr Kibbsty who's actually experimenting}.

There were some things that seemed a little off/unrealistic, but I honestly don't want to write them out in here because I feel it might ruin the story line.  Suffice it to say it in no way ruined the story for me; I just kind of grazed over that and kept reading.  Although it was difficult at first to follow part of the story, because it went in chronological order, then just kind of jumped around a bit.  Once you realize what's going on, though, you just fall back in line with the story.

Fans of X-Men or the Shatter Me series would really love this book... hopefully series?  Not sure if the author is planning on writing more, but with how this one ended she definitely left room to!

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