Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger. Sky Fall, Book #1. Source: Pulse It, during their 2nd annual 31 Days of Reading. Format: ebook, ~416 pages, Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2013.
I read Let the Sky Fall in one day over on Pulse It, Simon & Schuster Teen’s site. This month they’re hosting their second annual 31 Days of Reading, where you can read a different book completely free each day; it’s only up for 24 hours so you’ve got to commit to some serious reading time. But go on over there because this is a chance to read some good books you might not otherwise have access to. (I am not being sponsored by Pulse It, I simply think you should check it out.)
I decided to power through Let the Sky Fall because of it’s beautiful cover (man, it actually perfectly works for the story; it’s not a generically pretty cover) and because I’d seen and heard of it before, though I didn’t really know much about the plot. I dove in eagerly and didn’t want to leave my computer when I had to go out to a doctor’s appointment. Upon returning home, I jumped back into the story and finished it over dinner.
Vane’s parents died in a tornado, and he survived–but can’t remember anything from his past. Audra is a sylph, a wind elemental, who has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. When the power-hungry villain, Raiden (who we don’t see one ounce of in this whole book), discovers Vane’s location, he sends his henchmen, Stormers, to capture Vane. Audra then breaks the news to Vane that he’s not human–he’s a sylph, like her–and that he’s the only person who can give Raiden ultimate power. Audra starts training Vane how to control the winds, and the two fall into a forbidden love as they work to stop (though really only stall) Raiden and uncover the truths behind the deaths of both their families.
I loved Shannon Messenger’s concept. There is something so beautiful about the Windwalkers and the way they can control the winds. There are specific chants to make the wind obey you and different ways of manipulating them into storms and weapons. Sylphs can fly anywhere they want on the wind, can send gusts to disrupt and disturb, can save someone from falling to their death by cushioning them with a friendly wind. Most of the book comprises of the training Vane undergoes with Audra, such as triggering his “breakthroughs,” and while this makes the plot a bit slow-paced and the immediate threat seem far-off, it was fascinating to read about.
I liked Vane and Audra. Both were very distinctive from each other and had their strengths and weaknesses. The chapters alternate between their points-of-view, and even with the name that cited whose chapter it was, I was able to tell if it was Vane or Audra narrating. This is so rare in books that are told from multiple perspectives. It’s tricky to make each character’s voice sound different, but Messenger nailed it. You’ve got Vane being more scattered and sarcastic and Audra being more distressed and fierce. Their voices contrast, as do their personalities.
Vane is a typical teenage boy: he’s lazy, he’s goofy, he responds in shrugs, he likes girls, he doesn’t like responsibility. Audra is much more serious: she’s loyal, she’s disciplined, she’s haunted by her past, she doesn’t take any crap from Vane. She’s a warrior, willing to sacrifice herself for the cause. Vane can’t remember anything from before the tragedy that killed his parents, but he does remember Audra, and has dreamed about her ever since. The two have obvious feelings for each other but cannot be together. The tension is excruciating for them, and was for me, the reader.
That plot twist at the end was crazy; I didn’t see it coming and thought that the confrontation was pretty insane (in a good way. Praise to Messenger for creating such a complicated character… won’t tell who it is!). The battle against the Stormers was pretty epic, too, even though Raiden was probably relaxing at his castle, watching through a crystal ball and slowly plotting his next move. (I’m being sarcastic and making that up; I don’t know if he really has a castle or a crystal ball.)
Overall Let the Sky Fall was a terrific book, something different from the usual paranormal/urban fantasy reads. Sylph don’t get as much attention as other creatures/beings and I really liked how detailed and unique Messenger made them. She introduced a lot of ideas and set the series up for what I hope will be a wonderfully complex battle between the Stormers and the Gales. ♦
About Shannon Messenger:
Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned–among other things–that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She also regularly eats cupcakes for breakfast, sleeps with a bright blue stuffed elephant named Ella, and occasionally gets caught talking to imaginary people. So it was only natural for her to write stories for children. She’s the bestselling author of the middle grade series, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, and the SKY FALL series for young adults. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats. Find her online at shannonmessenger.com.