Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

literarynessie's review against another edition

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Rating: 2.5 stars

I've read both Ender's Game and A Game of Thrones, which is what Empress of a Thousand Skies reminds me of. They are both grittier books, which appeals to me. The reason why I was disappointed with this book is because I was promised Arya Stark, but in space. It seems that whomever promised this must not have seen the show. If they did not set such a high bar, I think I would have given this a higher rating. Furthermore, I don't believe the target age group for this book is watching the Game of Thrones TV show.

This book is for teens who don't normally like space operas but would like to dip their toes in the water and try it out. Empress of a Thousand Skies is a gateway book for Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray and other sci-fi space operas. I absolutely recommend this book to young readers interested in expanding their genre. While this book did suffer from debut blues, it's not the worst book in the world. I do think it needed at least 100 more pages if it was going to have multiple POV because having multiple POV actually mean's each character's screen time is split into two. The book is 300 pages, which means each character may have only had 150 pages of actual development. This book is basically novella of two characters. I still stand by my original rating. It's not against the writing --- it just needed to be a bit longer to capture the essence of a space opera as well as give us time to get attached to the characters.

Original Review (2/28/17):
2.5 stars.
Am I a terrible person? I don't know.

Here's What I Did Like
- No fairytale re-telling that restricts a new and original plot somewhat like Cinder (I do like Cinder but I'm super over evil stepmothers/foster mothers)
- Actually set in space and the map helped me. Cinder is set in a vague city at first and I was confused to where I was, or at least I felt I didn't have very much sensory details. In EoaTS each planet was distinct.
- The main character, Rhee, is a go-getter. She doesn't leave things to fate or destiny.
- It's diverse and tackles the topic of prejudice and biases.
- it tackles the conflicts with refugee and post-war problems

What I Did Not Like
- The predictable plot.
- The two POV for such a short story.
- It got slow at times.
- I felt like there was info dumping.
- I kind of wanted more dialogue and expected more wittiness and sarcasm.
- It wasn't gritty as I'd like.
- Rhee has tunnel vision when it comes to her "revenge" mission and is wrong about the person she wants dead.

I think I expected something in the line of City of Bones but more concise. In City of Bones, you have all these characters and they're sort of misfits in their own way but they somehow end up working together by kicking ass and taking names. So why in the heck was this compared to Firefly or "Arya Stark in space". It was not "incredibly fast-paced", just a short read. It also did not have my "blood pumping" as was implied to me.

I'm sorry to be negative Nancy! Please don't let my review dissuade you. I kind of wish Rhee's POV wasn't just Rhee's POV. I wish more characters were pushed in with her journey and not separated to a different POV. I truly think a "cast" of characters would have kept me interested, rather than a random character here and there.

I felt like I couldn't get the gist of Rhee's personality because there was a constant internal monologue about revenge, family, and her duties as Empress. A revenge plot does not uniquely distinguish a character on its own. Is Rhee self-centered or self-conscious, is she bookish or strictly business, is she girly with an edge or a tomb boy, is she kind or dismissive? I got nay. Only that she was sentimental about some telescope from a random best friend whom I know little about.

Overall, this book was actually well-written, just not to my fancy. There was a lot of potential. I wasn't surprised or blown away by anything, but I applaud the author's ability to make me feel like I was actually in a galaxy.

I also did not like the multiple POV 1st person. I felt like I was reading two different books. It was like the author liked these two character's story line and don't know how to make it work *together*. it felt too separate and the multiple POV didn't work with such a short book. It wasn't necessary to have two 1st person POVs. If this book was all 3rd person it would have been a lot better. Especially, since the main characters never even crossed paths!!! What was the point? It makes sense if characters don't cross paths in 500 page epic, third person book like Game of Thrones, which had a high immersion world.

mckenziestaley23's review against another edition

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This book had a lot going for it. In the end I just feel like it wasn't enough. If there was an extra hundred or so pages maybe I would have enjoyed it more. But it all felt too rushed. I'm not sure If I'll pick up the next book, I might just to see how it ends. I mean I didn't hate it, I just wouldn't call it a favorite.
I guessed all the plot points way before they happened. There was a certain disconnect with the characters that I couldn't get over.
There were some good features. I liked the world and it's politics. But thats basically all I have... Everything else either felt plain, or just too predictable, or too rushed.

ladym23's review against another edition

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Our reality in space, as other reviewers mentioned the lunar chronicles feel.

rosiethespy's review against another edition

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Entertaining enough, but I just don't really care that much. The setting is supposed to be this vast empire, but it never felt that big or detailed. On the bright side, Aly's robot is great. Maybe I'll read the next one if he plays a bigger part.

becandbooks's review against another edition

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Trigger warnings:
SpoilerAbleist language, racism & racial slurs, internment camps (mentioned), strangulation, blood depiction, medical experimentation, needles, consensual & non-consensual drugging, death of a mother/father/sister (recounted, death of a mother (on-page), death of a friend), explosion (recounted & on-page), murder & attempted murder, knife violence, police brutality & violence, torture, mind control (discussed), imprisonment, poisoning

This is a book I had seen with a lot of mixed reviews and yet with the beautiful cover and my re-found love of YA sci-fi I wanted to give it a shot. And honestly, I enjoyed it.

Overall it was a good read. I enjoyed the world-building - the different planets and species, the politics and war background, and in particular, the use of technology and how it intertwined with the plot line. Sure, it could have been more fleshed out but I felt it was a good balance between detail that didn't feel heavy but gave the book some atmosphere and spacey vibes.

I enjoyed the characters, although they weren't really here nor there. I did fall in love with Kara late in the story and wished there had been more of her in the first half - which primarily focused on Rhee and her side of the story.

I'll be blunt - I was a little underwhelmed but that may be due to picking this up as an audiobook. While the narration was enjoyable, this is the type of story that I would love to fall into with more focus than I typically dedicate to an audio story. And so, while I am interested in continuing the series, I think I want to pick up a physical copy of this book to reread before I continue. And maybe that reread will give it that little extra something that I was searching for in the audio.

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Happy reading! ❤

camillesevian's review against another edition

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I just can’t be bothered to finish it: the characters aren’t interesting enough, the separate narratives don’t come together in a cohesive way, and the big plot twist you see coming a mile away 

mychaoticshelf's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional hopeful lighthearted mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


kayleyanne's review against another edition

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There's not a single galaxy in the fucking universe where this book wouldn't suck.

I was sold on the premise it was similar to The Lunar Chronicles which I love because they're so much fun.

No. Just no.

Rhee and Aly manage to lack a personality and be utter morons. The idea that Rhee could rule a planet is nothing short of hilarious, homegirl couldn't rule a playground of fucking toddlers even on her best day.

The cliffhanger chapters are hilarious; it's like an episode of writing for beginners and there's no real suspense because you know these two idiots will wrangle their way out of trouble - usually they're about to be caught or murdered. I'm a big advocate of the latter. Do me a favour and kill 'em PLEASE.

The world building is confusing. Three gazillion different planets with made up names. I couldn't tell you the planets the two protagonists belonged to if you held a gun to my head... and I have no idea of where they are in relation to one another. And there's made up swearing. Made up swearing is annoying as fuck. Either swear or don't but spare us the made up shit.

Seriously, don't bother. It's terrible. And not even in a this-is-objectively-bad-but-so-much-fun way. I stood on a plug the other day and have literal holes in my feet about a quarter of an inch deep. This book was worse. I thought my Jesus feet was the epitome of a shitty week but turns out this book is far more grim than the abject agony of standing on a three pin plug so thanks for that I guess.

marimoose's review against another edition

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Initial Thoughts: For something that's set up for a duology, there is much to tie up plot-wise. Not surprising for a space opera per se, but I thought a few things could have been resolved already. Also, way too many random coincidences used to move the plot. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world...anyway, some good parts, some bad, I'm still on the fence mostly on this book.

Full review can be found at Story and Somnomancy.