Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Daughter of the Centaurs - Kate Klimo

Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo
Series: Centauriad #1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on January 24, 2012
Published by Random House
Pages: 362
Read From: 11.21.13 - 11.25.13

Malora has always wanted to be a master horseman, like her father. To ride and hunt as he does, wheeling about and charging off, bow and arrows strapped to her back - she can't imagine anything better. It is no matter to her that for the People this is considered a man's job, or that she is gently discouraged by her parents at every turn. Malora feels, she knows, that this is what she was meant to do. 
But destiny has its own plans for Malora when the People and their horses are taken by bloodthirsty creatures known as Leatherwings. In an agonizingly short time, only Malora is left - with Sky, the majestic stallion that was the leader of the People's great herd of horses. Together, girl and stallion find a wild herd and forge a new life in the plains. 
In a way, Malora is now the master horsewoman she dreamed of becoming, but she is lonely for conversation and companionship and family. She cannot help hoping in her few quiet moments that there are more People somewhere and that she will find them. And then she meets the centaurs, and her world is opened up yet again, this time into a life she never could have imagined.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? No, I'm not a fan of the cover. The character impersonator is way too prominent, especially her mouth. And she looks nothing like how I pictured Malora (they rarely do). The title is what initially caught my attention.

Characters: Malora was surprisingly likable. Whenever heroines are described as kick-ass, I get a bad feeling about them. Kick-ass is code for major chip on her shoulder and man-hater. Malora is tough; she knows the survival and hunting skills required to survive in the Plains, and she takes a very practical view on life. She's unassuming and curious, but cautious and intelligent. She genuinely knows how to take care of herself and doesn't at all have the Attitude. I liked her a lot, which I wasn't expecting. Orion was amusing with his enthusiastic and scholarly personality, and Honas was very down-to-earth and serious. I did not become attached to Zephele, like I thought I would. Normally I actually do like over-excited, slightly silly side characters, but Zephele was too bubbly and frivolous. I grew tired of her very quickly.

The Romance: There isn't any!

Plot: Sometime in our far future, the world will have regressed into a stone age culture. People will carve out a simple existence in the Plains and Mountains, while centaurs live in luxury and frivolity. People will have sunk into nothing more than myth. Malora's people are the last living humans, but they're wiped out by terrifying leather-winged creatures, and Malora is the only one who survives, along with her father's prize stallion Sky. Together, they set out into the wild Plains, building up a herd of horses, until they run into an expedition of centaurs who are rounding up said horses for their ruler's stables. Before the other centaurs can kill Malora, Orion, the ruler's son, takes her under his protection. Humans are practically nonexistent and Malora displays a surprising amount of intelligence for a two-legged creature. She's taken to the centaurs' city, where she introduced into a world of luxury and beauty and relaxation. The centaurs have cat-like people - the Twani - do everything for them (and according to the centaurs, the Twani are happy to be servants), while lesser-born centaurs till the land so the nobles can live in peace. It is a world entirely different from Malora's, and she must adhere to their rules or be banished. So Daughter of the Centaurs doesn't have a great deal of a plotline; it's mostly world building. And the world is very interesting. Here is a futuristic world that has no spaceships or anything like that, but instead feels like an older century. Humans are practically nonexistent and mythical beings such as centaurs and fauns are the predominant species. But the centaurs hate their horse halves, and try everything possible to emulate human behavior. They cover themselves with complicated wraps and wear boots, only the very poor eat meat, the females have to cover their heads, and they ride around in horse-drawn carriages rather than walk themselves. My only problem with the world building: the Author doesn't explore it nearly as much as she should have, given how much time is spent on it. What happened to push the world into a stone age existence? Where did centaurs and fauns come from? Are they the result of some genetic experiment from long ago? (And if that's the case, which I get the feeling it is, that's just weird.) Also given the very caste system setup of the centaur society, it seemed like this plot was perfect for a rebellion. No Reader is going to be convinced that the Twani are happy being servants, and the lower-caste centaurs are definitely not happy about the inequality of living. We can hope that Book #2 will get into some of this.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, present tense. For some reason, the present tense really struck me as rather odd for the story. I don't know why, because I have read books like this that are in present tense and it worked fairly well. But with this one . . . I don't know; something about the present tense just didn't work.

Content: None.

Conclusion: Highly anticlimactic. If it wasn't for Malora and my curiosity over what happened to create this timeline, I would have found Daughter of the Centaurs very difficult to get through. Not a whole lot happens, but I do have hopes that that will change in other books.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, fourteen-and-up, good for fans of fantasy and female protagonists who can genuinely take care of themselves.

Others in the Centauriad Series:
1)Daughter of the Centaurs
2)A Gathering of Wings

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