10:30 am EDT, July 1, 2013

Book review: ‘Chasing the Valley’ could be the next dystopian hit

The first book in this new upcoming dystopian-fantasy YA series was released today, and will find fans in readers of The Hunger Games and The Darkest Minds.

chasing the valley coverDanika Glynn is alone in an unkind world. With no family, no real friends, and no home, she is constantly on the move. So when she gets an opportunity to escape from the city that has held her captive all her life, she takes it.

But the repercussions of her escape are not so simple, especially as she took down one of the king’s planes on her way out. Now the king is set on making her an example – making her the most wanted person in the kingdom.

Things are not going in Danika’s favour. She is travelling with a group of fellow escapees who seemingly don’t trust her, she is waiting for her magical inclination to develop, and she can’t shake the feeling that she is being followed.

Their only chance is to find Magnetic Valley, the one place where they can be safe from the king’s magical wrath. But there’s one big problem…just how do they find it?

Review: ‘Chasing the Valley’

Chasing the Valley fits easily into the dystopian trend that just won’t go away – not that we are complaining. While comparisons are always problematic, there is certainly a similarity in theme to dystopian hits The Hunger Games and Divergent, although plot-wise fans will find more in common with Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds.

Regardless of comparison, there is a lot of potential in Skye Melki-Wegner’s first novel, especially considering that she has another two books to expand on the world she has created. The road journey structure allows for immense world building, as the characters travel through many different environments.

Melki-Wegner’s talent clearly lies in the crafting of the world, the different environments are conjured wonderfully through Danika’s experiences, and the system of magic used is fascinating and complicated. A lot has already been done in the dystopian genre, but Melki-Wegner’s new twist of negative magic and the taboo of magical development will draw you in.

The characters are complex with a lot of room for growth in the following books. At first appearance they seem to fit into fairly standardised YA stereotypes, but the remainder of the novel is dedicated to breaking these barriers down. Don’t be surprised if by the end of the novel, you still aren’t entirely sure what all these characters are about – Melki-Wegner will leave you hanging. Regardless, you will want to know, and that is the key to this novel.

Chasing the Valley will leave you wanting more, and there is no question that it was the right decision to turn this into a trilogy. In the mass of dystopian YA fiction, Chasing the Valley stands out as something new and unique, so don’t be afraid to give this (admittedly overdone) genre another try. You won’t regret it with this novel.

Chasing the Valley was released today, 1 July 2013. It is the first book in Skye Melki-Wegner’s fantasy series. Books 2 and 3 are currently set for release in January 2014 and July 2014 respectively. Look out for our interview with Skye Melki-Wegner later this week.

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