A review by literarynessie
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza


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.