|The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumier|
Imagine entire cities that rest on huge chunks of land which float in the air. How cool is that? And kind of scary. Nobody really knows what holds the islands up, they know it’s dragon magic but they don’t know how it works.
The Floating Islands begins under sad circumstances. Fourteen-year-old Trei has come to live with his uncle’s family after his previous home was destroyed by a Vesuvius-like eruption. At first he’s numb with grief but slowly as he opens up under his uncle’s kindness, we get to know more about him and his new home.
This story is actually kind of awesome because it’s done in a way that can appeal to girls and boys. Trei’s story rotates with that of his cousin, Araene. They each get a chapter and each story is unique. As soon as Trei comes to the island and sees the men who fly through the air using special wings, he knows he wants to be one of them. This will not be an easy task, the flying school is hard to get into, only a handful of boys are admitted and they only hold testing every few years. And to make it even more difficult, he’s not considered an islander by many and only islanders are permitted to learn the dragon magic that allows the men to fly.
At the same time his cousin yearns to be a renowned chef, to go to school and to explore a world outside the confines of their household. But in a culture where girls are expected to be mothers and wives but little else, this doesn’t seem possible.
And this is only the set up of the first few chapters! Along the way there will be flying school and magic school, new friends, a plague that sweeps the island and looming war with another nation. Trei and Araene will be put to the test and their determination to help those around them will either save the islands or destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve.