Title: The Sky Village
Author: Monk Ashland and Nigel Ashland
Mei’s mother has been kidnapped by meks, but her father is determined to see her safely to her mother’s people while he goes to rescue her. So Mei is sent to the Sky Village, a floating city of hot air balloons intricately roped together.
On the other side of the world, Rom ekes out a living in a Las Vegas overrun by beasts. But his familiar world is shattered when the demons take his sister—and now he must master a demon himself in order to set her free.
The two of them are bound together by a mysterious book, which may hold the key to the war between beasts, meks, and humans . . .
The ideas this book tackles were certainly intriguing: a manmade flying city, a world with a war between machine and animal, a gene that allows certain people to have inborn traits of beast, mek, and human. But mostly the ideas presented in the book summary are as far as it goes. It wasn’t a bad story, it just felt rather shallow to me.
Mostly I wanted more of pretty much everything. The Trinity war (man, beast, mek) is mentioned several times but never in any great depth, which is a little strange considering how much it reshaped the world. Rom gets a better sense of personal and family history than Mei, though his final confrontation with his father still fell flat for me. The relationship between Rom and Mei is hardly there and doesn’t impact either of them much that I can tell, so it feels like two separate stories rather than an interwoven whole (some of this is also due to the fact that the book is clearly setting up a series, so much is left open for future volumes to resolve). After their initial conversation, they spend more time leaving messages for each other than actually communicating.
And certain elements were never really explained. Why are there beasts in Las Vegas and not meks? For one, being an urban area, it seems to make more sense to have meks, and for another, what do the beasts eat since at this point the supply of easily caught people appears to be quite thin (most of the beasts seen are at least carnivorous, as it would be hard to explain grazers in such a desert region)? Similarly, why are the meks populating rural Asia? What is Rom eating other than canned food that’s probably a hundred years old at this point, and where is he getting it? How is Sky Village getting fuel if nobody’s making tech anymore? How many triggits are there, since Rom keeps destroying his opponent’s triggits in the arena fights, and the implication is that this is a standard way to win?
So, if you can suspend disbelief on some of the worldbuilding, the story is fast-paced and has a couple of surprises. I like the concepts, but again, the execution did not really come through for me. I rate this book Neutral.