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The Floating Islands Hardcover – February 8, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Themes of finding home, creating identity, and sorting out loyalties in the face of others� suspicions are woven beautifully into this fantasy story. Trei, who lost his family and home in a disaster, eventually finds his way to another country, the home of his cousin Araen�. The two become tentative friends and share their personal dreams: his, to fly with the majestic wingmen, and hers, to study to become a chef, although she must disguise herself as a boy in order to attend school. Their adventures converge when Trei�s adopted homeland is threatened by attack from his land of birth. Araen� provides the necessary defensive weapon�a dragon�s egg�acquired illegally on her first day in the mage academy. Both adolescent and adult characters are rounded and realistic, and the two cousins� parallel journeys are equally absorbing. Neumeier�s writing is fluid and evocative, and the questions raised are reflections of those intrinsic to every individual�s journey to adulthood. Grades 7-10. --Francisca Goldsmith

About the Author

RACHEL NEUMEIER is the author of several fantasy novels, for both adults and young adults, including Knopf's The City in the LakeThe Floating Islands is her second YA book.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375847057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375847059
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,534,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student; her first publications appeared in journals such as The American Journal of Botany and and would probably be interesting to a readership in the high dozens. She is confident that her fantasy novels have much greater appeal!

Rachel's first YA fantasy, The City in the Lake, was published in 2008, and was followed by the adult fantasy Griffin Mage trilogy in 2010 and by her second YA, The Floating Islands, in early 2011. She gets her ideas from artwork, from history, from other authors' minor characters, and from just throwing words on the page and seeing what happens.

Rachel now lives in rural Missouri, where, having allowed her hobbies to take over her life, she has a very large garden, a very small orchard, two cats, and many beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
47%
4 star
35%
3 star
18%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 17 customer reviews
Neumeyer has a way with words for sure!
*Caligirl_08*
It's very well done: the characters are engaging, the action is brisk, and I only noticed one major flaw.
D. G. Hulan
Definitely a book I want to reread and that I'll be recommending to lovers of high fantasy!
S. Su

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Books31 on February 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Floating Islands starts with a heavy beginning that may turn initial readers away. But readers shouldn't fret over this, instead they should know that grief and loss isn't the central theme of the book, instead it is one of finding ones place in the world. Neumeier does this by creating two cousin protagonists that are lost in the world they're each in. Trei has just lost his family in a horrific accident and been throw out of the only other family and land he's ever known. Araene, Trei's cousin, is also hopelessly lost. In her world of the floating islands women are not granted the same rights as men, are not afforded schooling, the ability to wander about, nor even the selection of their future careers. The two cousins meet and recognize each other as the trapped and lost beings they each are. From here the story takes each cousin down a different and unexpected road, full of surprises, mysteries, sadness, and magic.

I found a number of things that were well done about The Floating Islands, but first and foremost has to be the imagery and setting. Neumeier does a fantastic job creating a vivid and unique setting that really stands out in the book. Besides the pure descriptive aspect of setting the island is laid out in a way that allows readers to feel as if they are navigating the streets and rooftops themselves, instead of just reading about them.

Besides this the character interactions, especially between the two cousins, seemed especially well written. As I mentioned before this is a book not of just pure magic and action, but one of character building and more specifically finding ones self in the world, and I have to say Neumeier does a fantastic job making this book so.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
After Trei's family are killed by a volcanic eruption, he journeys to the wondrous Floating Islands, hoping for a welcome from his mother's family, whom he has never met. And when Trei sees the magical kajurai, the men who have mastered flying with specially constructed wings, he knows where his future lies.

But, things are not so easy for his cousin, Araene. As a female, her life and her future is highly constrained, and her options few. She dreams of being a great chef, an art that the Flying Islands prizes, but only men can become chefs. But, she little realizes just what her future has in store for her!

First off let me start out by saying that I am not a "young adult," except perhaps young at heart. But being a fan of fantasy literature, I had high hopes when I picked this book up. Thankfully, my hopes were fully fulfilled. I really enjoyed this book, and found it to be one of the best new fantasy books that I have read in a long time!

I really liked the author's take on magic, and I loved the milieu that she built around it. It's a very interesting story, with interesting characters, and interesting magic. I enjoyed it immensely!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sandra on September 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Floating Islands was an okay read. I would have rather given it 3.5 stars instead of just 3.

1) At times it dragged on. The fantasy elements are lovely and I don't mind a bit of heavier description in my fantasies. It was done a bit too much now and then in this book, causing the action of the story to not really occur until about halfway.

2) Alright characters. I didn't feel a strong connection to the characters, and instead felt like they could have had more `oomph' to who they were. I did enjoy the switch between the POVs of the girl (masquerading as a boy) and her cousin with dreams of flying. I thought it was well balanced and I did come to like them, just not very strongly.

3) Overall story plot was interesting and not that exciting until the book was already half over. If more magic had been used, maybe that would have spiced things up for me. After having read it, I felt like there was a lot more that could have been done.

There was a lot of description and not enough character involvement, which would have made the book more gripping for me, personally. However, I didn't regret reading this and thought it was an overall pleasant enough read.

Re-readability: Low
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Combs on March 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the complete, balanced, detailed and graceful kind of story that Robin McKinley's "Pegasus" (which I recently returned, in a fury) SHOULD have been. While suitable for younger readers (and I did NOT find the beginning too "heavy"), this mature reader found it gripping as well. In fact, I couldn't put it down. Several premises in this book were so original that they were a delight to the mind. I recommend this book, and will now go in search of Neumeier's earlier novel, "The City in the Lake." I wish "The Floating Islands" were a SERIES I could escape into.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Desert Mambo on June 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
I quite enjoyed this book, and I am also not a young adult, but am an adult reader of fantasy, who enjoys good writing, good world building, and has a relatively low tolerance for romance. What I enjoyed about this book was the ways in which the worlds were created: I saw some things I'd not encountered before (the floating islands, buoyed up by sky dragon magic), and I found the characters mostly believable and well developed. The story itself was well told, too, with enough political intrigue and high stakes, and still it did not seem unbelievable that these young people were pulled into the greater affairs of their world. One of my favorite parts was the way the young mage "tasted" magic; that was a wonderful addition!

Another reviewer compared this writer to Patricia McKillip, and though I did not think of it myself, I agree that is a good comparison. The writing is lyrical and well crafted, as is the case with McKillip (and I'm a huge fan of hers).

As much as I enjoyed the book, I had some quibbles. Sometimes things happen too easily and too quickly, say the way time passes when Trei is waiting for his audition to be a flyer, or when, well, I don't want to add a spoiler, so let me just say there is another dramatic family event that happens fast and is glossed over. Also, I didn't like the end much at all--the way the young mage is suddenly being courted by a prince seemed contrived, and happened too fast, and honestly, I'm sick of the young female characters suddenly falling (improbably) head over heels in love and becoming uncharacteristically "girly." We could have done without that.

That said, the flaws were not so huge I rejected the book entirely, and I realized, as I finished the book, I'd be happy to read more about these characters.

So worth reading, and I am going to seek out the rest of this author's work!
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