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Airwoman: Book 1 Kindle Edition
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Jade is headstrong and very determined. Jade’s relationship with her uncle is very interesting and the story contains some epic style action scenes that will intrigue you to the point of not wanting to put the book down. The style of writing and wording of the story was very suitable for the young adult genre. I believe the author has done her research very well as there was no loopholes or questionable segments within the story line. The pace was steady and since the protagonist was smart and resilient, it made the tale to be even more absorbing.
The world setting was accomplished with care but did not possess a picturesque descriptive nature and left the reader with using its own imagination. This is not to say anything negative about the world, but to encourage the reader’s ability to improvise instead. I found this to be an enjoyable aspect of the book and found the novel approach for the plot to be admirable.
I recommend this book to young adult readers who enjoy fantasy and strong female lead characters.
Placing Jade into a military structure and then having her ignore every single rule and just doing as she pleased was grating and quite beggared belief and only succeeded in throwing me out of the story.
The Portals and inter-world trade and travel has massive potential and if young Jade was less dumbed-down and the plot not almost entirely propelled by her lack of critical thinking and ill-considered decision making this could have been a quite compelling read. As it is, I just got crankier with each new dodo decision that Jade made. She does finally show both some backbone and intelligent choices in the closing stages of the book, it's just a shame that it didn't happen a little earlier.
I received an e-ARC and voluntarily wrote a review.
I had high hopes for this manga. Taking place in a desertic world inhabited by humanoid drgaon people, the Taraqan people are not only blessed with sturdy wings that pretty much forfeits their need to fly, they are also the only apparent race that is capable of locating and then passing through the invisible interworld portals to several other worlds that were created by the magic of the Dragon Goddess Taraqa.
Now, a world where dragonoid people not only have a general idea of foreign worlds, they actively visit them to allegedly do trade and protect them from horrid monsters called Yrax that inhabit the interworld portal is a good plot concept. The fact that the book eventually reveals that Taraqans are more like greedy crooks that in reality only visit foreign worlds to pillage and plunder could have made it a really rich and engrossing story. If handeled more like a grimdark novel, this could have really worked well.
The problem is that... while Airwoman decides to tone down the grimness of the backstory a lot, and make it more YA (which I have no objections if done right), we are stuck with a pedantic protagonist. Jade Gariq is the trust fund baby daughter of a prominent and apparently more "honorable" of the main trading companies of Taraq that fund military interworld excursions. She was spoiled and coddled by helicopter parenting which causes a lot of problems for the plot. While we get hints that her father Magnus is fairly decent, he doesn't teach his daughter to keep her eyes open, to show reverent fear of the dragon gods, and doesn't allow her to leave Taraq even once as a civilian on a business trip. Thus, Jade grows up to be sheltered to the absurdity of being naïve to the core, self-loathing, immature, believes everything what people say to her, and never learns how to defend herself, or become self-sufficient.
He stalls her obligatory 2 year military service, and thus, we spend the first 20% of the novel hearing Jade's woe is me whining that she wants some more adventure in her coddled life. Before the novel became intolerable enough to DNF, the plot finally moves forward and Magnus unexpectedly dies.
Assuming it was of natural causes, Jade reaches an agreement with her uncle Zorman to perform her 2 year military service to then hold the reins of her father's company while he covers the duties for her during her absence.
This is where the plot seems to fall further apart. Jade discovers from a childhood friend that Magnus might have been murdered, and she uses her political connections to quit her boot camp training (on the first week! Yeesh!), and then get herself assigned to a brigade of Navy Seal special Ops type soldiers to a suicide mission to locate a murderer that has been killing Taraqan soldiers. All of this while during the years she spent complaining about her sheltered life, she never bothered to get into physical shape, learn how to use a bow & arrow (apparently Taraqans think arrows are more efficient weapons over guns or a dishonorable knife), and overall, she is physically a wimp, and yet by barfing her dinner and clenching her teeth, she thinks she has a real chance in a wrestling match against a full-fledged Navy Seal veteran soldier.
Some things about the technology in the book seem... out of place. Fluorescent lights taken from Earth seem like the big cannoli, but despite being world pillagers, the Taraqans don't copy military tech from other worlds, or open themselves to the possibility of mastering all sorts of weapons. I cannot be fully pro or against this aspect of the worldbuilding in the novel because since it is entirely told from Jade's POV and she clearly believes she can pull a sufficiently good temper tantrum to get her way everytime, learning how to use any sort of weapon wouldn't matter.
The book still has a good inherent plot, and I liked how we discovered Jade's rosy tinted eyeglasses buttercup world of honorable and wonderful Taraqans fell down at the end. I mean, it's hard to believe she never found the caveat of Taraqans "auctioning" seemingly rubbish junk from other worlds (nevermind that many of that rubbish was probably priceless religious artifacts and whatnot) as house decoration to be morally wrong, but still believable, given her upbringing. Discovering the overly idealistic perfect society fall in front of Jade's eyes like a house of cards was one of the highlights of the novel.
Axel was a pretty good character who seemed to know a lot and you could see his disgust with Taraqan society. It's a shame the book didn't develop the supporting characters pretty much at all. If it had toned down Jade's childish spoilt rich girl behavior where she gets her way ridiculously easily and never gets killed despite all of the incredibly stupid decisions she takes without thinking things through at all, and instead focused more on the irony of the ills of her morally corrupt society (the book would have epicly benefitted from a Dragon God revenge), it would have been a brilliant read.
Maybe the second book is really good and advances the points in the plot that I would have personally wanted to see. I might give the sequel a chance. But only if Jade is no longer annoying.