Air Awakens Series: Review

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This series took me on the bumpiest roller coaster ride, and I kept battling myself on whether I loved this series to pieces, or if I was getting used to the romantic cliches. Maybe a little bit of both? The Air Awakens series by Elise Kova consists of five books, all following our protagonist, the unwitting sorcerer Vhalla Yarl. I waited until I finished the very last book, Crystal Crowned, to write a review, because of how much hope I had in the series. So you've been warned, there are minor plot spoilers ahead!

Air Awakens (Book One) Goodreads Summary:

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond...

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined. 

Warning: Minor plot spoilers ahead!

The Air Awakens series consists of five books that absolutely need to be read in order:

  1. Air Awakens
  2. Fire Falling
  3. Earth Awakens
  4. Water's Wrath
  5. Crystal Crowned

Clever alliteration, right? Beautiful titles and covers, right? I thought so too. I was so excited for some major elemental action, perhaps with each book culminating in some sort of elemental showdown, a la Avatar: The Last Airbender. While the series reminded me a lot of AtLA (and not just because the romantic interest's nickname is "Fire Lord"), it lacked the punch I was looking for.

The elemental magic described throughout the series are more like parlor tricks- flipping pages in a book without touching the paper, extinguishing candles, creating icicle daggers. There is a war about mid-way through the series that forces Vhalla to take her magic seriously and train for combat. Great! This is a great opportunity to hone her sorcery, to finally take it seriously, and also gain some sword skills in the process. But her first battle is so incredibly disappointing because, while her magic is eviscerating, she insists on making out eyes at her romantic interest and exchanging mediocre banter with him in the middle of the battlefield. While Kova attempts to describes how truly frightening and soulless war can be. I rolled my eyes so hard at this scene. Vhalla's big "moment" on the battlefield was overshadowed by the romantic narrative being driven, and it completely destroyed the gravity of the situation.

In addition to misplaced moments like the battlefield scene above, I had misgivings about some of Vhalla Yarl's decisions. Especially earlier on in the series, I found her to be too much of doe-eyed damsel in distress, too trusting, and too naive. Her growth into a fierce warrior did not come without a cost, but I felt that it was done all too rapidly, as though Kova realized Vhalla's character needed to grow, and needed to grow quickly. At the same time, however, I was enamored by the broody Prince Aldrik, or Fire Lord, from the first few pages of Air Awakens.

I'll admit that the relationship between Vhalla and Aldrik was super sweet. If you're not a fan of romantic cliches, vanilla in the sweetest form, and not-so-subtle sex scenes and implications, then you'll be annoyed by the series. A lot of it is spent talking about this relationship, whether it's Vhalla pining over Aldrik, or Aldrik being overprotective about Vhalla. Get ready to learn a lot about this couple's physical and emotional relationship.

Can you tell that I was really conflicted about this series? It started off really poorly for me, because I couldn't stand the meek and submissive Vhalla Yarl of Air Awakens. Personally, the series picked up for in Book Four, Water's Wrath. The underlying powers behind the story, both the good and the bad, finally make a stand and there is a clear plot line that we're working towards. And as someone who loves a clearly defined magic system and mythology, I was really compelled by it! And by the fourth book, I felt that I could finally see eye to eye with Vhalla, and rather than criticize her character and her decisions, I just went along for the ride.

The Air Awakens series may have started disappointingly, but it ended on a surprisingly high note for me. I'm glad I stuck through and followed Vhalla and Aldrik's journey to the very end, because the ending did not disappoint!

I rate the Air Awakens series 3/5 stars!

Read on,

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