Emilie and the Sky World, by Martha Wells

Title: Emilie and the Sky World (Emilie and the … #2)
Author: Martha Wells
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication date: 6th March 2014 (woo, birthday~)

EmilietheSkyWorld-144dpiI absolutely loved Emilie and the Hollow World. I called it “Neo-Vernian” and said I couldn’t wait for Emilie’s next adventure. I was eagerly awaiting Emilie and the Sky World, hoping for the same level of excitement and adventure. I wanted something just as special and unique and adventurous as the first of Emilie’s escapades. I… didn’t get this. Something… or many somethings perhaps, just did not work for me. Between having trouble imagining the various landscapes and dirigibles, I couldn’t find the same Emilie I fell for in the first book. She had been replaced by someone a little mean and bitter and although the same spirit and eventual self-awareness I knew tended to win out in the end, I found her a less than amiable companion to adventure with into this new and should-have-been wondrous sky world.

Only very recently back from the Hollow World and still learning all the tricks of the trade of adventuring and exploration, Emilie is now Miss Marlende’s assistant and has secured a future away from the judgemental and overbearing Uncle Yeric. But when he shows up, demanding she leave with him, and with Emilie’s younger brother Efrain in tow, all Emilie can do is up and leave, heading towards an aether current in the sky and a mysterious airship that has been spotted—and is approaching steadily.

There’s only one thing to be done: go and meet this strange aircraft and hope against hope that the travellers are friendly.

Accompanied by Professor Abindon and a selection of assistants, including Daniel (with whom I was hoping for a budding romance—but no such luck!!), Emilie and the Marlendes head off into skies unknown, up and up until they find themselves in the strangest place they’ve been given to see yet. With a new world seemingly hovering above their own, and stories of an airship that went missing in the sky’s aether currents, an aircraft assumed destroyed and its crew dead, some of the plot becomes very clear from the offset and spoils some of the wonder. We have a new world, yes; we have a potential threat, yes; we have a new crisis, yes—but so many things were obvious and predictable. That was half the problem.

And partly it was the pacing, which was odd. Sometimes the book ran and then would slow to a crawl without warning. There seemed to be no tangible tension, despite the situation, which naturally should have been tense and sharp. It wasn’t. Nothing was easy to imagine and visualise, from the new bits-and-pieces world made of clumps of everywhere else to the alien creature, Hyacinth. No matter how I tried, I could only picture the plant-flower creature as some kind of flowery mutated Bellsprout or other plant-type Pokemon. Which, honestly, felt silly. I couldn’t take the new creature seriously. I applaud Wells for her imagination… but I’m wondering if what she herself imagined actually translated to the page. Bellsprout-monster aside, I couldn’t visualise the technology, the ship, the anything. It felt confused and jumbled and completely out of touch with the rich imagination glimpsed in Emilie and the Hollow World.

I enjoyed the dry and sarcastic tension of the professor, but found the initial mystery surrounding her relationship to the Marlendes unnecessary: I found it obvious very early on just who she was. The fact that just why there is so much tension between the professor and Miss Marlende is never explained and it feels as though it was simply forgotten—as though Wells had every intention of adding more to flesh out the bones of their relationship, but forgot. It felt unfinished—and then far too easily resolved. I enjoyed her character, but at times she became more a tool than anything else, to direct the plot and be the ‘smart one’ in lieu of Dr Marlende.

As for the sibling tension between Emilie and Efrain…I would have loved it had the book surrounding it been better and it slipped more naturally into the flow of things. It didn’t. It felt tacked on to interest readers in an element of Emilie’s personal life. However, she simply proves herself as an unlikeable and petty character at times, dismissive of her brother’s wonder at her changes as more negativity in replacement of Uncle Yeric’s snide and cruel opinion. Furthermore, any resolution achieved by Emilie and her family is brief, staged and honestly the book could have done without it. The conversations were stilted despite the dialogue itself being acute and realistic. Unfortunately, the book was just… boring. It took a whole forty percent to reach the airship in the sky and for the real story to kick in. What happened in the space before? I’m not sure. A whole lot of nothing.

This book was frustrating. Slow and boring and absolutely nothing like the first book. There was no spirit. Nothing. I wish that the elements I liked had been handled better, that Emilie and her brother had been a proper storyline, that there had been some evidence that Emilie has actual emotion and an emotional life instead of the peppy I-want-to-prove-myself-useful attitude she has got going on. I wanted her to love someone, or I wanted her to really hate and argue with her brother. It was all so stiff-upper-lip and Emilie just seemed snotty and uppity in response to her brother’s obvious attempts to build bridges.

It’s not as though Emilie is an unlikeable character—she’s not—but somehow, whatever connection I’d made with her in the first book, was cut off. All I got was the busy dial tone; no Emilie.

The book’s greatest weakness is that it seems that nothing happens, everything crawls along with no tension whatsoever. Absolutely no tension. The creatures are difficult to imagine and the overarching plot was…honestly so overdone in principal I was surprised Wells even touched it. I am so over mind-control, body-snatching. So over it. In fact: it’s on my list of Things That Annoy Me In Books. So that went well…2-star copy

I thought I would love this book and I went into it with all the enthusiasm left over from Emilie and the Hollow World and its five-star review…and smacked straight into a wall. I struggled through and quite honestly wanted to get it over with as soon as possible so I could move onto something else.

Dull, slow and difficult in its haphazard pacing. I…evidently did not enjoy this book. Nope. Not at all. Sorry, book; but we can’t be friends.


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