***I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review***
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I really liked this book. I just wish the cover was better / different, because it does no justice to the exciting story held within. Rhoades and Rutledge craft a fun story with a wide variety of deeply complicated characters that all feel whole and complete, like if I were to bring Vasili’s mother or the innkeeper aside to have a chat, they’d be able to without floundering for words. The authors created a well thought out steampunk-esque adventure without needlessly throwing cogs and gears everywhere. The flying airships fit the world perfectly, and I never felt like the world didn’t make sense. And while that was a lot of fun, the shining note on this book are the characters.
The book is told in a close third person focusing on Vasili, a young boy desperate to make his own adventure free of his departed hero-of-a-father’s shadow, and I, a grown woman, totally understood what this young boy was feeling. Sure, some of the feelings are universal; the feeling of being embarrassed and kicked when your down, being betrayed and lied to by people you considered to be friends etc. But the fact that I never once questioned if a fourteen year old boy would really do or say something just shows how well written the main character was, and if you’ve been following my reviews, you know I love me some well-rounded characters!
Now, just because the ships can fly, doesn’t mean the crews don’t fall into the stereotypical foul-mouthed sailors, because they do. Goodness, do they! I personally loved it, their swearing felt spot on and in character, but there’s a lot of nasty little four letter words, so if that’s not your jam, well, I don’t want to say stay away from the book, because the swearing isn’t present throughout the entirety of the novel, but just know it’s there and tread with caution. Despite the main character being fourteen, I don’t know how comfortable parents may be with their kids reading that kind of language. If it weren’t for that, I’d say that this book was totally appropriate for thirteen year olds, as there is no gratuitous sex and only one real scene of violence, so this book may be better for sixteen year olds, just for the language.
“The Apotheosis Break” has a lot going for it; a sweet coming of age story with an innocent (and slightly naïve) teenager, a heroic but mysterious father figure that his son can never live up to and never got to know, a town full of mean spirited people, an adventure of a lifetime that isn’t all it appears to be, sky pirates (yes! Sky pirates!), a world full of rich lore, betrayal, and a long litany of questions left unanswered. For as much as I enjoyed spending time with this colorful cast of characters and learning about the world Vasili inhabits, that was my one and only issue with the book. Vasili has—and asks—a lot of questions. The poor kid is pretty clueless about, well, about near everything, and while he knows to ask if he’s confused, no one ever seems interested in answering. Vasili stumbles upon a few answers on his own, but by the end of the book, it didn’t feel near enough.
I’m going to avoid spoilers, because I do think this book is worth a read, but let’s just say that at the end, things are getting tense. Tings look hopeless and Vasili is in shock and has no idea what’s happening, and frankly, neither does the reader. Something happens, a secret weapon or something is used, and then Vasili wakes up in a new town, trying to find the local law enforcement. I got to that part and scratched my head when I realized it was the end of the book. It felt like I had missed something... something vital. Maybe I did, maybe it was so subtle it went right over my head, stranger things have happened, but I don’t think so. The book ended with just so many unanswered questions that I felt just like Vasili: frustrated that the adults were purposely keeping me in the dark for reasons I don’t understand. I understand that, as a first book in a series, there’s a lot of world building that needs to get done, there’s a lot of set up and introductions, but this felt like a chapter was missing between the last conflict, and the end chapter. Things supposedly happen and get resolved with promises that more of the mystery surrounding Vasili’s famous father will be answered, so this isn’t a case of teaser / cliffhanger ending, this just felt like something was missing, and left me with way more questions then I feel comfortable with. That being said, it doesn’t diminish how fun of a read this was, and I can’t wait to see what the second book holds! But because of the ending, I can’t really give it the full 5 stars, so 4.5 stars it is!
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