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The Continent Audio CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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About the Author
Fiona Hardingham, British-born actress, singer, and voice-over artist, has narrated several audiobooks, including The Scorpio Races, winner of the 2012 Odyssey Honors Award. On stage, she appeared at the Edinburgh Festival in her comedic one-woman show The Dark Show. She has also starred in the dark-comedy short film The Ballerino. She earned a BA honors degree in performing arts from Middlesex University, London, and also studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
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Top Customer Reviews
Vaela Sun of the Spire is celebrating her sixteenth birthday. The Spire is a technologically advanced country with heli-planes and magnetic trains but is still old world culture where people use calling cards and address one another by their surname. Women are regarded as fragile creatures and must hide their bare legs from men. A courtship is declared before a couple may date. The Spire is peaceful and perfect and everyone is happy, unlike the citizens of the Continent. Its indigenous tribes have been at war for over two hundred years and the Spire has found this to be a source of entertainment. With a multi-year waiting list, people of the Spire gladly pay big bucks to go on safari and fly their heli-planes over the battlefields to watch the two tribes murder one another. And Vaela’s parents have pulled strings and probably sold their souls to take her on one of these gruesome expeditions.
Please don’t even think of comparing this to The Hunger Games.
Obviously this is not the experience Vaela was hoping for as she becomes stranded in the frozen and unfriendly wastelands. It is at this point the book becomes a bit more interesting as the scenes in the Spire were painful and forced. The family Vaela is traveling with could not be more obnoxious. Let me clarify: the mother was unbelievably fussy and whiny, she found the natives “gaudy” and as she sat in her futuristic heli-plane, she complained that she doesn’t believe in technology. There were times I wondered why the woman was even on the damn trip. What made these scenes even worse was the dialogue; clunky and pretentious, I actually read it out loud just to hear how badly it was written.
Then Vaela meets the natives. Somehow after not seeing another Spirean for almost 300 years, one of the tribes of the Continent is quite fluent in English. Their grasp of the language is amazingly good as they are able to use words like indolent, tactician, and fertility. It was a groan out loud moment when a ten year-old used the word ‘subterfuge’ correctly.
Of course, the pampered Vaela is initially useless; she can’t cook, hunt, field dress a kill, or even clean her own house. Servants did everything. But, of course, after meeting the spunky and gorgeous Yuki, this changes. No surprise. Also no surprise, Vaela falls madly in love with one of the natives (Harlequin, remember) and must help_____ and make a choice between______ and____because these people are_______.
This is one of those books that, with each page, you find yourself more and more aggravated or dumbfounded but there is no way you’re going to throw it across the room like you really want to. It’s the proverbial train wreck; you can’t look away, you want to see what happens. Some of the more unbelievable moments: Vaela actually argues with the man who saved her from certain rape about her love for cartography: it’s educational and not for battle (that’s where the word tactician came in). Somehow there are oranges in the arctic tundra. The natives speak perfect English. The existence of Mrs. Shaw. I could go on, and from looking on Goodreads I can see The Continent has a lot of fans, so I know I’m in the minority, but it just didn’t click with me. I won’t be continuing this series.
Addendum 11/5/2016: this thing got totally trashed on Twitter for "white saviourism" against POC. Now goodreads has been inundated with negative reviews. The blanks I left in my review covered this as the white girl feels she must help the tribe but has to make a choice between the Spire and the Continent because these people are now "her people". Also, she asks the Spire council to help "her people" with her unbelievably Trumpian idea to drop a wall between the two tribes to control the violence.
What I really I liked about the story was the way Valea, the heroine, matured from a young, naive child to a strong, independent adult. The story is essentially about Vaela Sun and how she copes with the loss of her family, the loss of her former life, the threat of war and death, and her grow love for the Aven’ei warrior that saved her after the crash of the plane. I also found the writing itself very engaging. The style was very formal at times, but the descriptions and imagery felt very real. The writer has real skill, and I look forward to her future books.
But the story has a lot of holes in the plot – glaring holes that make you want to roll your eyes. Like an advanced civilization that has airplanes but no real means of communication, no cameras, no satellites. Towards the end I got the feeling that the Spire was like Europe or the US in the late 1800s, early 1900s with the addition of rudimentary prop-planes for air travel. There were also a lot of “convenient” things written into the story that didn’t make sense other than to push the story into the path the writer wanted. Like why there was only one escape pod on the plane? Why didn’t anyone try to use the parachutes? Why did the Aven’ei speak the language of the Spire, and why did the uneducated Aven’ei have the vocabulary of a Rhode scholar?
The end of the story, while action packed, was a little linear and unimaginative. I think elements could have been added to make the story less predictable. Things could have been done to allow the Aven’ei to control their own destiny.
So an interesting read with well-developed characters, but plot elements could have been a lot more sophisticated. 3 1/2 stars.
So I kept waiting for the story to surprise me and take different paths. I was expecting Aaden to have survived the crash (with a parachute) and end up with the Topi. He could have been the one to show the Topi the quickest path to the Aven’ei in exchange for the Topi not killing him outright. I also kept thinking Vaela would remember the formula for explosives (or snagged the formula when she briefly returned home) and with her knowledge of the topography block the passes through the mountains that were allowing the Topi to advance. There are so many ways the plot could have been changed to allow the Aven’ei to control their own destiny. The whole “superior civilization” to the rescue was a little off.