The Six and the Crystals of Ialana by Katlynn Brooke
Genre: Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (170 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Six young people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one are brought together by a shared dream. All have escaped adverse circumstances: three have been kidnapped by the King’s recruiters, while the others are on the run from a forced marriage, the arrest of their parents, or a ransacking of their village. A seventh joins them, and they must flee to the mountains with a brutal army recruiter on their trail.
As their journey brings them closer to the mountains, they know that the Ozgoi range is feared by all, and only those who are ignorant of what they harbor will attempt to cross them, but cross them they must. They are motivated by a shared dream that indicates they are all moving towards a goal of a reclaimed mission, and a powerful crystal that has been lost 500 years in the past. The answers to their own past, and their connection with the crystal, lies within the tunnels and caves of the range, and on a remote island that has been lost in the mists of time.
The first in the Ialana Series, The Six and the Crystals of Ialana is a marriage of magic and science. It is a roller coaster ride of suspense and survival under impossible circumstances. Relentlessly pursued by the rulers of Ialana, the Six must reclaim not only their heritage and their power, but do all this as a traitor lurks in their midst.
It’s easy to talk about fulfilling your destiny. It’s much harder to actually attempt to do it.
The world building was well done. There were times when so many different concepts were being introduced at once that I needed to reread a passage to make sure I understood everything that was going on. This definitely isn’t the kind of tale that can be skimmed. It needed my full attention while I was reading, and I appreciated that. What I found most interesting about how the author created this three-dimensional world is how careful she was to weave everything together. It was incredibly complex at times, but it also all made sense once I fit all of the pieces together.
This book switched among the points of view of many different narrators. While I liked all of the narrators quite a bit as individuals, I found it confusing to jump from one perspective to another so often. No sooner would I begin to get to know one of them a little better than another character would take over telling the audience what was currently happening. This made it hard to keep their backstories straight as well as to figure out all of the little but important details about them that made them unique.
One of the things I liked the most about the plot twists was just how many of them popped up. While I did predict a fair amount of them ahead of time, there were still some that caught me by surprise. Knowing what the rest of them would probably turn out to be didn’t make me enjoy them any less, either. I really liked seeing how the characters reacted to all of the things that didn’t necessarily go the way they were expecting them to go.
I noticed many similarities among the personalities and backstories of the six protagonists. Nearly all of them were running away from families that were highly restrictive or controlling in some way, and they all seemed to have the same emotional responses to conflict. This lead to the main characters having such similar reactions to certain things that I sometimes had trouble telling them apart. It was also repetitive at times because of how often the same types of interactions continued to happen. I would have preferred to know more about the things these characters didn’t share in common. Not only would it have been an interesting thing to explore, it would have also made it easier for me to separate them out in my mind as the unique individuals they were.
The villains in this story made me shudder. The descriptions of who they were and what they wanted were richly detailed. I especially liked how much emphasis Ms. Brooke placed on the specific choices they made that frightened and harmed others. This made it easy for me imagine what it would be like to be in the same room as the bad guys.
The Six and the Crystals of Ialana should be read by anyone who is in the mood for an epic adventure.