Author: P.C Cast
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Moon Chosen‘s goodreads page here
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
SYNOPSIS: “#1 New York Times bestselling author, P.C. Cast, brings us a new epic fantasy set in a world where humans, their animal allies, and the earth itself has been drastically changed. A world filled with beauty and danger and cruelty…
Mari is an Earth Walker, heir to the unique healing powers of her Clan; but she has cast her duties aside, until she is chosen by a special animal ally, altering her destiny forever. When a deadly attack tears her world apart, Mari reveals the strength of her powers and the forbidden secret of her dual nature as she embarks on a mission to save her people. It is not until Nik, the son of the leader from a rival, dominating clan strays across her path, that Mari experiences something she has never felt before…
Now, darkness is coming, and with it, a force, more terrible and destructive than the world has ever seen, leaving Mari to cast the shadows from the earth. By forming a tumultuous alliance with Nik, she must make herself ready. Ready to save her people. Ready to save herself and Nik. Ready to embrace her true destiny…and obliterate the forces that threaten to destroy them all.”
DISCLAIMER: I received an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, therefore all written words are an accurate portrayal of my opinions. The review may also contain slight spoilers, so read at your own risk.
Let’s just start off by saying that I have a love-hate relationship with this novel. The first half of the novel didn’t pull me in the way I hope, in fact, I was repelled by the protagonist Mari. To be honest, if it weren’t an ARC I would’ve marked this as a DNF and moved on, but I’m so glad I stuck it out! The second half of this novel was absolutely phenomenal and refused to let me go; it’s fair to say the ending made up for the abysmal beginning!
Mari, the protagonist of this novel, was born into a world that has three main tribes or “nationalities” if you will. The different tribes have been at war for generations as their way of life are incredibly different from the others. The Earth Walkers share a close connection to the earth (Hence the name) and suffer from an illness called night fever which provokes depression in women and violence in the men. The Moon Women, which happens to be Mari’s Mother Leda, washes the clan from the sickness by harnessing the power of the moon to return the people back to their previous selves. The Tribe of the Tree, better known as the Companions, live within the canopy of the forest to ensure protection from the evil creatures that inhabit the floor during night hours. They harness power from the sun, much like the Earth Walkers, although are characterised by a distinctive leaf pattern on their skin when in contact with sunlight. They are also known for their life-long relationships with animals; the tribe featured within the novel have deep connections with Dogs. Finally, we have the Skin Stealers, and as you may have guessed, they are the most ruthless of all. Not much information was released about their way of life, but what we do know is that they flay live animals and humans in order to take their flesh to become stronger by absorbing it through their own.
The main plot point revolves around Mari’s self-identity as she was conceived by parents from different tribes: her mother was an Earth Walker and her father was a Companion. She has to keep her true identity a secret from the clan as the companions have stolen and kept clans women for generations. By dying her hair and cover her skin from direct sunlight, Leda and Mari dress her as an Earth Walker to ensure her safety with the group and to escape banishment. To make things more troubling, Mari inherited the Moon Woman genes from her mother, which is characterised by her grey eyes, which means she has the potential to become the lead healer for the clan, which she absolutely despises the thought of. She absolutely ignores her Tribe of the Tree heritage until one day a Shepherd puppy, soon to be named Rigel, escapes from the tree top village to name her his companion. Leda informs Mari that his breed holds great worth within the tribe, which causes a great internal struggle as to which half of her family she would learn to appreciate and uphold and which half to conceal.
After an accident on the river sectioning the different groups of people, Nik finds himself in Earth Walker territory helped by Mari and Sora (The apprentice Moon Women). Mari decides to ignore Sora’s concerns and heals Nik to full health as she refuses to stoop to his tribe’s level. This is when their budding friendship, and as you can probably guess, this eventually turns into romance. To be honest, I usually find the ‘star-crossed’ idea entirely overworked in Young Adult fiction, but surprisingly, in this novel it works. I find the two to be complimentary due to their witty humour and responses, and the fact that they had similar upbringings. They both have both experienced the pain of a parent dying when they were young, and both felt like outsiders in their own clan/tribe. I hope that the two can improve their relationship in the future novels, and I pray to Jesus that it doesn’t become a cliché romance!
The layout of the story was my main concern, as the entire first half of the novel was dedicated purely to world building through rather tedious descriptions and boring dialogue between Mari and Leda. To be fair the build up to the final sequence usually takes place at around 65% way through, but that was when Nik and Mari first met, therefore, the second half was extremely rushed and packed full of things that needed to be discussed before the concluding chapters. Also, the action that I was promised didn’t truly take hold of the story until the last 50 pages, and I still feel like half of it is missing to create a ‘cliff-hanger’ that wasn’t necessary, nor fits with the story.
For such a large novel, I left feeling like I didn’t gain much from the experience. Don’t get me wrong, the world building was absolutely incredible, I just found some sections to be overly descriptive and wordy. The whole novel could be cut down by at least a hundred pages, and the story wouldn’t be damaged in any way. That being said, I felt that this novel was very much a stepping stone for greater things to happen within the sequels, as this is the first in a trilogy. We have been shown a glimpse into the world of the Skin Stealers, which is likely to grow in the sequel due to the ending paragraph, but we are also introduced to a man from a rivalling tribe of companions and his Lynx. I hope to find more about the other tribes within the area, and I hope Nik and Mari venture into these worlds of the unknown and can find a place where they both fit happily.
Another problem I had with this was the inner monologue of the two main characters. The novel is written in a somewhat split perspective, with multiple characters taking centre stage, although Mari and Nik take the percentage. Even though Mari is 18, I found her to be extremely childlike with her interactions and her thoughts were often whiny and unappreciative. Nik was 23 and a lot more tolerable than Mari, although not the respectful and mature man I was hoping he would be.
All in all, the novel was definitely a fun experience and one that I’m not likely to forget soon. The novel discusses serious issues such as rape and murder, therefore a mature audience is intended. With that in mind, this world and the story it is telling is extremely unique and a breath of fresh air that the YA dystopian genre needs! I will be checking out all future sequels to this novel, and I seriously can’t wait!
That concludes my review for this fantastic and unique novel! Leave me a comment down below what you think of the story if you have read it, and if not I recommend you go start immediately! Thanks for reading my review and I’ll see you next time!