Title: The Never Tilting World
Series: #1 of The Never Tilting World
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.
But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.
A demoness is what men call a goddess they cannot control.
The idea of twin goddesses ruling a world that was split into night and day presents such a vivid imagery. I dove into this book without expecting anything but what I got were rich world-building and a pace and presentation that totally worked. Told in alternate points of view between Lan, Odessa, Arjun and Haidee, most of the narrative happened while two parties from both ends of the world attempt to get to a common destination and (
was destined) only to meet in the middle. Lan and Odessa are from Aranth – a place covered in darkness plagues by constant typhoon, melting ice and flooding. On the other hand, Arjun and Haidee are from the Golden City – a city on the other side of the world, where the scorching sun rules and never sets. As a result, it is covered in seas of sand and drought is rampant that threatens one of the fundamental necessities of the people to survive: water. The stark contrasts between the two is told and presented seamlessly through the people’s way of life and especially highlighted in the way it is told in an alternating manner.
I must admit that it took a couple of chapters before I got to warm up with the world, but when I did, it totally paid off. This book presented an interesting and unique magic system, reminiscent of Avatar and Carry On, in the sense that it uses elements and that the strength and efficacy of the spells/magic depends on its presence or how abundant it is in a place. It’s interesting how besides the usual four elements, they can manipulate it by tweaking patterns in specific gates (am I getting it right?). One such example is:
An Acid incanta – she’d drawn out patterns of Water through her fire-gate instead of the usual Fire, and the result was poison instead of flames.
…which I find really cool, btw – because it means infinite number of abilities, if you are creative enough to think of it and capable enough to channel it.
I also loved the characters and backstories established within the four leads – and I find it great to see the contrast between the two relationships, as well. While Lan and Odessa’s is charged and intense, Arjun and Haidee’s is slow and warm. Personally speaking, relationship wise, I enjoyed reading about Arjun and Haidee’s relationship more. They have some pretty cute moments (the one with the dulogongs? Yes!) that served as balancing elements in the otherwise dark and disturbing (and mysterious) happenings back in Lan’s and Odessa’s camp. There are also some steampunk-ish elements in here specifically back at the Golden City and Haidee’s adventure, mainly due to the fact that she is an established mechanika.
But that’s not to say that the other side of the world is boring? Lan’s and Odessa’s adventures were full of mystique that made the ritual/prophecy reveal at the very end that much more satisfying and surprising. The mutual pining and the notion of forbidden romance hangs heavy in both of their shoulders that it’s sometimes painful to read. And God, how I love stories that center around prophecies – because, somehow, you know how it would end, but then an author can still throw a surprise or two that might turn everything around.
I can say so many great things about this book but, personally speaking, these three are the highlights for me:
1. Commentary on the climate change
“Any possibility that the world can be healed is one worth making the attempt for.”
This topic is something very relevant today but, sadly, not discussed enough. When I first read the book’s dedication (“Dear Philippines…“, it began), I was surprised that this book was inspired and written with the “balance of human and nature” as a recurring theme and conceived at the height of the Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines back in 2013. Though the discussion was deeply rooted in fantasy, the metaphorical resonances of how these events are caused by choices that people made (and are continuing to make) lands true. I loved how optimistic Haidee sounded whenever she talks about trying to save the world and I wish more people are like her.
2. Emphasis on mental health
“There is healing for the body, but there is also healing for the mind. Once be at the peak of health but mentally and emotionally drained, especially in the face of traumatic incidents.”
I know mental health is oft discussed in YA lately but seldom (at least from the books that I read) does a YA fantasy does it so explicitly as in TNTW. I loved how one character described it so clearly and continued to be an advocate of the importance of mental healing. Which, if you think about it, actually makes more sense in a fantasy setting – since characters are dealing with different horrors and traumatic events almost on a regularly basis. “But there are other kinds of sicknesses that go beyond visible form, all the more dangerous because they are not so easily detected.“
3. Wonderful PTSD representation
I signed up for this book tour mainly because people are hyping it up at Twitter and I’ve been meaning to try Chupeco’s writing for a while now. But part of the reason why I was also excited for this was because of the PTSD representation it claimed to have. (slight spoiler ahead, highlight to view) I would be lying if I say that Lan is not the character I relate to the most – mainly because of the element of PTSD in her narrative. I found some of her experiences (triggers, flashbacks, denying the idea of asking for help, etc.) mirroring my own. There was an emotional breakthrough by two thirds (nearing the end?) of the book that really hit home for me that I might consider doing a separate post about it. It was so clearly tied to mental healing and the idea that there’s no shame in asking for help is such an important message to put out there.
All in all, this book was a solid read. At the end of its pages, we were left with several questions and what-ifs that I hoped would be answered in the next book. I am quite excited to see how the four of them will interact with each other. This is my first Rin Chupeco book and I am really ashamed that it took me this long to read one of her works. I think her books are one of the first contemporary fantasies by a Filipino author in the market today (correct me if I am wrong) and I am so
damn proud of it. Definitely recommended – I am soooo looking forward to the next book!
DISCLAIMER: I received an advanced readers copy of The Never Tilting World c/o Harper Collins through Caffeine Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. Thanks again to Shealea of Shut Up, Shealea and Rin Chupeco for the opportunity to read this!
“I can’t place exactly when or where it happened, but it crept up on me, the way I might read a book and know within the first few chapters I would fall in love with it before I’d reached the very end.”I swooned at this quote! ♡
She felt like a break in the clouds, how a glimpse of sun might feel.And this one as well! ♡
However this might end, at least there would be an ending.
About the Author:
Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.
Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.
As a bonus, I recorded Rin reading an excerpt of The Never Tilting World during the YA panel in the 5th Filipino American International Book Festival I attended at San Francisco (which I need to write about in the coming days), see below. (I am at the front row LOL.)
We are also having a giveaway for an signed ARC of The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco. Feel free to join!a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js