I’m not the kind of book blogger who desperately tries to get free stuff. I’m in a lucky enough position to be able to buy books for myself or, if I need to, I still have access to a library. That said, I like helping out authors who ask me to help out. Promoting your book is a huge job so if I can help out then I will. One of the best things to come out of my blog in the last few years is being able to work with writers. Alexis Marie Chute first approached me to help reveal the cover of the first book in her YA trilogy Above the Star. I was beyond grateful for the opportunity and agreed without a second thought. The book sounded incredible and I was excited to introduce my followers to it. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of reading and helping to promote the books on social media. I loved the first book and was super excited to read the second book, Below the Moon. So, when I also offered the chance to get a copy, the final book became one of my most anticipated books of 2020.
Inside the Sun is the final book in the 8th Island Trilogy and sees an end to the epic journey that the Wellsley clan have set out on. Archie Wellsley and his family have been stuck on the mysterious island of Jarr-Wya on the world of Jarr for a while now. During that time they have battled great evils and put themselves in plenty of peril. They have also discovered a lot about themselves. In the last book, we found out that Archie was secretly part-Olearon and the rightful lord of the race. His son, Ardenal, has been living as one of the fire people ever since he came to the island but Archie is finding his new role a little overwhelming.
Especially as the last novel saw them embark on a battle with the vicious Millia sands. In the previous book, the people of Jarr-Wya came together with humans to protect Earth from being taken over by the soulless sand. They must then race back to the island and prevent the Millia from reaching the Star. Previously believed to be an evil force ruining life on Jarr, the group have discovered that they must protect the Star to save their worlds. It turns out that Archie’s cancer-ridden granddaughter, Ella, is the key to sorting all of this mess out but is she ready to make the ultimate sacrifice? And just what is happening with her mother, Tessa? She has been searching for her identity her whole life. Could Jarr-Wya finally give her the answers she’s been waiting for?
My favourite thing about this series of books is how easy it is to get back into the action. Alexis Marie Chute gives the reader just enough information to get them up to speed but she makes sure that the necessary exposition doesn’t slow the pace. Inside the Sun is a rollercoaster of a novel that sees the tension build as we get closer to the big ending. Yet it always remembers to take a breath now and then. We get moments of reflection, emotion, and plenty of character building. This is the kind of book that you’ll enjoy whether you’re a fan of action-driven narratives or character studies. Yes, a lot is going on but it never feels too overwhelming. There is a strong hand on the tiller and she never loses control of her story or characters.
This entire trilogy has been focused on its main 3 characters and their personal growth. Archie, Tessa, and Ella have all visibly changed throughout the trilogy and it’s been wonderful following them on their journey. These are characters that are well-written and well-developed. They could easily have been plucked from real-life and planted on the pages of this novel. Especially Ella. I’ve read so many YA books where the teenage voice feels so fake and overly mature. This isn’t the case here. She deals with everything as you expect someone of her age and she speaks naturally. The relationship between Ella and her mother is one of the central features of the novel and there is plenty of love there. Everything Tessa has done has been to help her sick daughter and she has become such a strong mama bear. It’s the final novel of the series that sees Tessa come into her own and it’s great that she has such strong moments.
The 8th Island trilogy is one that is full of strong female characters and it is refreshing to see. They are all flawed in their own way but they ultimately just want to do right by the people they love. Even if that means coming face-to-face with the ultimate evil. Inside the Sun has the same characteristic darkness that has hung over the last 2 novels. I’ve always thought that Alexis Marie had a similar writing style to Neil Gaiman because she is equally comfortable with showing her readers that life isn’t always happy and safe. There is real danger within these pages and very real consequences for the characters. However, to balance the darkness, there is plenty of humour and love to make sure that there is always hope. These novels feel very uplifting and motivational. There is a lot of humanity on show, which makes the narrative so effective.
But, by far, the greatest thing about these books is the world-building. Over the last 3 novels, we have been introduced to the island of Jarr-Wya and all of its interesting residents. Alexis Marie has such an original and vivid imagination and she manages to create such beautiful imagery with her words. Her background as an artist is clear and the use of colour within the books has been fantastic. As has the inclusion of illustrations along with the story. Ella, unable to speak because of her illness, uses a paintbrush to communicate with her party. These pictures and writing are included and help bring the story to life. It is an extra sense of magic and realism to help move the story on.
Inside the Sun is a fantastic way to finish the trilogy and it does satisfyingly end the saga. Over the last few books, we’ve grown to care about the characters and seeing them finally live up to all of their potential is a shared victory. It’s always sad to finish a series but it helps when it ends in such a fun and charming way. On a personal note, I’m never a fan of love-triangles so Tessa’s constant indecision regarding her ex-husband and new love interest got a bit much for me. Still, it’s one little thing and it won’t bother most people. It’s also got a level of depth that most love-triangles don’t have. It’s the power of great writing.
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