Thursday, July 10, 2014

Drift by M.K. Hutchins

Tenjat lives on the island of Gunaji, an island supported on the back of a giant Turtle that slowly swims through the seas of Hell as monstrous naga circle in the hopes of snaring anyone foolish enough to fall into the water.  Gunaji is only a small island, supported on a small Turtle that is slowly starving because each time they find a coral reef where it can feed a larger island and Turtle have already beaten them there and they are too small and weak to defend their island against attack.  As the Turtle weakens the quality of the soil falls and the people of Gunaji struggle to produce crops from the dying land, and it is in times like these that it does not pay to be prosperous and grow an excess of crops.  

On the tail end of the island, on the very shores of Hell, Tenjat lives with his sister Eflet and togther they farm the land, working hard to bring the dying soil to life so they can make enough food to last not only now but for the next three years.  Tenjat is determined to become a Handler like their father, but to do that he must abandon Eflet for three years and dedicate his entire life to the Tree and his lessons.  It is s difficult decision, and when the land he has so carefully tended is destroyed he has no choice but to leave Eflet with Jesso, the man who took them in when they first arrived on the island.  

Tenjat despises Jesso, because the man has so many children - children that slow the pace of the Turtle, a greedy and selfish act.  Men like Jesso, men who choose to take wives and raise families of children to support them in their old age are called hubs - and it is a term of derision and scorn.  But once Tenjat is living in the Tree and training to become a Handler he discovers that his world is not as black and white as he first thought, that there is more to life and survival than fighting nagas and winning battles against other islands.  His world is more complicated than he thought, and if he wants to save his own life, and the life of everyone on Gunaji, he is going to have to make some difficult decisions.  As if life wasn't complicated enough, there is also the growing relationship with his trainer Avi - Avi, who may just be the one person woman who could make him dream of being a hub rather than a Handler.

Drift is a mind blowing debut novel that has amazing depth and world building - you never doubt for a moment that you are in another world full of people and mythology, and danger.  From the beginning it is clear that the world is not our own, that life is difficult when things go wrong, and that sometimes you have to sacrifice everything to make a better life for yourself.  Tenjat is an amazing character to build a novel around, he is so perfectly imperfect that you can't help but be drawn into his story, and the complex and engaging mythology keeps you on the edge of your seat trying to guess what happens next or where the next twist will take the story.  

What starts as a monster story and a story of survival in a world where the weak are overrun and destroyed, turns into something much deeper and mind blowing   Telling you too much will ruin the impact of the story so I won't tell you anymore about the story, but I will tell you that this was the book that took me by surprise and is one of my top picks for 2014.  The characters are well defined, the world is crystal clear, and you can tell Hutchins has spent time planning her world and building her world - I sincerely hope there is another story from either the same world, or written with similar care and skill by Hutchins - she will be an author to watch in the future.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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