Author: Amy Ewing
Publication date: January 29, 2019
Genre: YA fantasy
Sera has always felt as if she didn’t belong among her people, the Cerulean. She is curious about everything and can’t stop questioning her three mothers, her best friend, Leela, and even the High Priestess. Sera has longed for the day when the tether that connects her City Above the Sky to the earthly world below finally severs and sends the Cerulean to a new planet.
But when Sera is chosen as the sacrifice to break the tether, she doesn’t know what to feel. To save her City, Sera must throw herself from its edge and end her own life. But something goes wrong and she survives the fall, landing in a place called Kaolin. She has heard tales about the humans there, and soon learns that the dangers her mothers warned her of are real. If Sera has any hope to return to her City, she’ll have to find the magic within herself to survive.
I freaking loved this book. I went into it not knowing what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t put it down! Also look at that freaking cover, how stunning is that?!
Now, before I start my review I just want to say, you can still love a book even if it has problematic elements. There are certain things I don’t take into account when I review books which is probably why I enjoyed this more than some people.
This is a hard book to describe, its quite unique and there’s quite a bit going on, so I apologize if things aren’t making complete sense in my review. Its pretty difficult to explain how I feel about this book because its such a unique world.
I thought the concept of this book was very interesting, I enjoyed the actual plot, the majority of the characters, the world building and the different POVs. The story deals with grief, heartbreak, figuring out who you are, doing the right thing and friendship. There’s also a lot of deception, cruelty, lies and corruption.
The Cerulean is a YA fantasy that is told from 4 different POVs. Sera who is a Cerulean (The Cerulean are a group of silver skinned, blue haired beings who live in The City Above the Sky and possess magic) and shes from The City Above the Sky, Leo and Agnes who live on the planet below in Kaolin, and lastly Leela, Sera’s best friend who lives in the City.
Sera has been chosen as the sacrifice so her home, the City, can break the tether to its current planet. The City is tethered to a planet so it can sustain itself and when it can no longer thrive off of the planet it moves on to a new one. When she finds herself on the planet below she knows something has gone wrong with the sacrifice and she wants nothing more than to go home. However, fate has different plans for her, Leo, the pompous jerk kidnaps her to win his fathers approval. In the process of kidnapping her, he treats her like garbage instead of a living breathing thing.
So lets star with the characters, I really did enjoy the majority of the characters, Sera the main character who is a Cerulean is inquisitive, shes full of questions and curiosity, shes brave, fearless and loving. Sera feels like she doesn’t belong and that’s mostly because of how curious she is and that she doesn’t feel attracted or interested in other Cerulean’s. As she comes from basically a lesbian society, its really interesting that she has no interest in women. She’s straight, in case you were wondering. Her best friend Leela was mostly quiet and stuck to the rules but she had some great development and she turned into this brave, determined woman who would do anything to save her best friend and find out the truth.
Then we have Leo and Agnes, Agnes loves science, she’s not interested in fashion or social activities, she’s attracted to women, she’d rather dissect frogs and tromp through the desert, shes intelligent, curious, shes oppressed and shes ready to do something about it. Then there’s Leo and hes the one character I didn’t enjoy. Leo is pompous, full of himself, he’s only interested in pleasing his father and getting his approval, he seems to have no moral code and hes an all around jerk. While he did have some character development he’s still a dick and hasn’t redeemed himself in my eyes. I could write an entire essay on him and why I didn’t like him but I’ll refrain.
This was a pretty unique world and I thought the City had some really great world building.. I could really picture myself there among the glittering glass buildings surrounded by lush gardens, trees and beautiful women. I thought the City itself was really interesting as it’s a society of only women ruled by a high priestess who determines when events happen such as marriage and a birthing season. In order to determine when these events happen the high priestess speaks to Mother Sun, who the Cerulean worship. In the City each family is comprised of a triad of three mothers: purple, green and orange and each one has a different role in this society. When a birthing season starts only certain women (purple mothers) from each triad are chosen to conceive, there are no men involved at all so this is seen as a “blessing” from Mother Sun. Its such a unique world which is why I really enjoyed it.
As for the planet the City is tethered too, I felt like it did lack a bit of world building. It appears to be set in a time period similar to our world around the late 1800s – early 1900s as there are motorized cars that aren’t very advanced. The planet is split into two countries: Kaolin and Pelago. Kaolin seems to be a pretty oppressive country for women to live in, women need to obey their fathers or husbands and aren’t allowed to attend school. Pelago on the other hand seems to be a progressive country that doesn’t oppress women, women can love freely and be with other women, they aren’t confined to the rules of society like Kaolin. Having the two different countries is pretty interesting, there seems to be a feud between the two where they don’t like one another. But like I said the world building was lacking.
I really enjoyed the plot, I found it pretty fast paced and intriguing, I found myself unable to put the book down and I just kept flipping through the pages especially near the end. I also really enjoyed the magic in the book and I think there’s still a lot to Sera’s powers that we haven’t seen and I’m excited to see what happens in the next book.
There were some things I didn’t fully enjoy such as the name for the City, I felt like the author could have actually named it because The City Above the Sky, is a mouthful and I don’t believe the planet had a name either. I obviously wasn’t a fan of Leo and felt like he hasn’t yet redeemed himself for what he did to Sera.
The last thing I wanted to talk about was Sera and Leela’s friendships. I thought it was beautiful and so pure, both of these characters love each other unconditionally and would do anything for each other. Reading the heartbreak both of them go through is devastating.
The Cerulean has some diversity, Leo and Agnes are both biracial characters, Agnes is attracted to women and the entire City is full of lesbians. I do recognize that there are some problematic elements to the book. However, I still enjoyed it, like I said above, you can still enjoy a problematic book.
Before I end this review I wanted to briefly touch on the City and society and the fact that Sera is straight. Yes, she was born and raised into a society full of women, loving women with no humans or men present. I thought it was interesting that Sera was actually attracted to men, as she had never seen one or been around one before. I know a lot of people had an issue with this, I didn’t. There’s probably more women in The City Above the Sky that aren’t attracted to women too or they are asexual, we just don’t know because we only know Sera. I can understand why people didn’t like this because they went into it thinking this was going to be a queer book and as the main character is from a fully lesbian society you would think she’d be one too but, she wasn’t and its unfortunate. So if you’re going to read this, don’t go into it thinking the main character is gay, she’s not. I know that’s probably pretty disappointing to some of you but this is honestly a great fantasy and you should give it a shot. I think when this book was first announced it was announced as a saphhic utopia and I’ve also seen that in some other peoples reviews but I haven’t seen that anywhere recently and it doesn’t say it in the synopsis either.
If you’re on the fence about reading The Cerulean I honestly implore you to make your own opinions about it. Don’t read a review and completely write it off. I would recommend this to fantasy lovers who are looking for a unique fast paced read.
WHEW, that was a long one!
Thank you to HCCFrenzy for gifting me a copy for review.