Series: Take Back the Skies #1
Published by Bloomsbury Australia on June 5, 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Steampunk, Young Adult
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Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.
So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . .
If you enjoy being told one very repetitive message throughout a book, only to have the heroine backflip and go against everything she believes in the last few pages, then go ahead and pick up this book.
For everyone else however, you have been warned.
Take Back the Skies has a very feminist message throughout, with the heroine Cat escaping from her oppressive father so she won’t need to sit around in dresses and be married off to someone who she doesn’t like. She pretends to be a boy so she can do what boys do – go out on adventures and help out on a ship. You will be told, over and over throughout the book that Cat is as capable as a boy is, and isn’t an incapable, weak minded and incompetent girl who likes cooking and shopping.
The main love interest is Fox, a handsome, guarded mentor who also happens to be sexist and chauvinistic, which comes out when he discovers that Cat is a girl. And proceed to treat Cat like a weak, useless girl who can’t handle things on her own, which she tries so hard to prove that she isn’t. With some weird turn of events, the two develop a budding romance together where their first kiss will be over the dead body of someone she should care about, but doesn’t one bit.
Last night I found out that not only are you a girl, but you’re a government girl. Excuse me for reacting badly to that information. – Fox
The second love interest (I shouldn’t really call it that, because he’s a non event) is the arrogant lost Prince James, whose annoying nagging and jealousy over Cat and Fox will grind throughout the book. He will throw himself at Cat and tell him his thoughts about their relationship at every single scene he’s in.
Aside from the annoying characters, there’s also an ever-present threat throughout the book, the government. The government is blamed for everything from their miserable lives, to how women are treated, to taking their children away and fabricating a war between themselves. The government is so evil that they take people’s children away during the collections and mutilate children, in a messed up experiment to combine human with machine. With Cat’s dad as the government figurehead, he’s pretty much evil by association, even though we don’t find out why she hates him so much until later in the book.
You say enough to prove that you’re never going to trust me. I don’t know why I bother any more. I’m just as capable as you, girl or not. – Cat
What really threw me off however, was the middle grade style of writing throughout. The book is very focused on the adventure, as Cat and the crew break into top secret government facilities including a ship. The writing along with Cat’s feminist behaviour throughout the book kind of makes me think this book might be more for children, until you encounter the darker parts of the book with gore, blood and mutilation.
I have to really commend the author for writing this book while she was 16, which is an impressive feat for any author.
I really wanted to like this book but unfortunately, the annoying characters, the incessant government blame, the inconsistent writing and Cat’s repetitive message throughout was too much for me. Take Back the Skies is enjoyable if you like an action adventure, but be prepared to encounter an ending which will pretty much wipe out everything Cat’s character stood for, and deem the whole book as pointless.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.