Friday, March 8, 2019

Black Wings Beating (Skybound, #1) by Alex London

Narrated by Brittany Pressley 
and Michael Crouch 
Synopsis (via Goodreads): The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer--while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he's long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother's future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.


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I almost stopped reading this one after the first few chapters, because animal cruelty is not something I want to read about. There are characters in this book that "battle" against each other in a pit, but they also battle with their birds of prey. If a person wants to fight for money, fame, or whatever else, that's their choice. Forcing a bird, or any other animal for that matter, to fight with them, is repulsive. As the book mentioned many times, animals kill to survive, while people have a choice. I think the author should have made a different choice regarding using these birds in unnecessary fights. 

Animal cruelty aside, I disliked all of the characters. Shara was my favorite, and she was a bird. Her loyalty to Brysen was understandable at times, because he did save her from his father's cruelty, but Brysen also forced her to battle in the pit with him so he could feel good about himself. Why save her life just to risk it later? Speaking of Brysen, he was the worst. He made foolish, reckless decisions, refused assistance or help, and believed the lies of a snake. His sister, Kylee, saves him repeatedly, and he never thanks her. He's upset that he couldn't do it alone, or that she stepped in at all, even though he would have died had she not. People were always saving Brysen from himself, and I hated that he behaved the way he did. I'm sure I was supposed to sympathize with him, because of what he endured as a child, but he did nothing else to earn my respect or understanding. 

As for Kylee, she lets her brother get away with being lazy and ungrateful, because she feels like she deserves it. Brysen took the brunt of their father's fists and anger, and she thinks that she's responsible for everything. When Brysen makes a mistake, she's quick to fix it. When he does something stupid and dangerous, she's there in the shadows to offer assistance. I don't believe Brysen would be alive without her, yet he treats her like garbage. It was the worst sibling/twin relationship I've ever read about. 

All of the secondary characters were forgettable and uninteresting. I barely remember their names, and I would have enjoyed learning more than just what was on the surface. They're always there in the background, ready to help or offer some small dialogue, but then we're back with Kylee and Brysen, and the disaster that is their lives. 

I feel like this story could have been tweaked to offer a more authentic and original experience, but instead we get some very common concepts (war is coming, religious fanatics, cruel parents with unrealistic expectations, and the world resting on the shoulders of one special girl). I was curious enough to finish the book, but even the ending was unsatisfying. The Ghost Eagle should have just killed everyone and been done with it. 

15 comments:

  1. Oh no, I'm sorry you really didn't like this one. I don't mind violence in books, but not with animals. That's just too much for me.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I know it's crazy, but I will cry when animals are killed in books and not people. I think we've become desensitized to human violence, but animals are innocent. They don't choose to fight unless it's necessary for their survival. People kill for sport and pleasure. It's disgusting, and I hate it when they bring animals into it.

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  2. I can't deal with animal cruelty. I doubt I would have kept reading this one.

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    1. The battle pit was at the very beginning of the book, and I told myself I would keep reading unless it happened again. Thankfully, it only happened the one time, but it was referenced often. Some people used their birds to send messages, or to fight enemies, which is different, but battling for money and sport was wrong. A bird shouldn't be tethered to someone's wrist and forced to fight another bird and sometimes a person. It was unnecessary and cruel.

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  3. Wow, sounds like the book had a rocky start and didn't really get any better. From the violence to the unlikable characters... not a lot there to engage with. Sorry this one didn't work for you!

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    1. I was disappointed, but we're not going like everything we read, right? I just get really bummed when I feel like a book has the potential to be more than it was. Dig a little deeper here, add a few more details there -- that sort of thing. Blargh! I'm reading Cold Day in the Sun right now and LOVING it!

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  4. "should have just killed everyone and been done with it" lol. sometimes a book is like that *sigh*

    Happy weekend!

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    1. Haha! By the end of the book, it made the most sense. ;)

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  5. I started this one last year and DNFd it fairly early on. I really didn't care for the characters either and the birds were just a little too much. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this either!

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    1. If it had been a physical copy, I probably would have DNFd it. However, it was an audiobook, and I tend to give them a little more wiggle room. I'm usually driving, cleaning, or doing something else with my hands, and changing audiobooks would be a hassle.

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    2. I also kept hoping Brysen and Kylee would grow as the story progressed, but no. I think they actually got worse.

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  6. Sorry to hear this wasn't a great read for you. I think I actually removed it from my TBR after seeing some mixed reviews for it and your review confirms that was the right choice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

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    1. I don't remember reading any reviews for this one before I started reading it, but now I wish I had. Like you, I probably would have removed it from my TBR. I definitely judged this one by its cover, which I love! <3

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  7. Sorry this one ended up being so unsatisfying!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. We can't love them all, right? I just had higher expectations for this one, and I was disappointed when I couldn't connect to the characters or the story.

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