3 out of 4 stars
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Like in any PG13 movie, your teenage life appears completely average. Nothing exciting happens in your town but you have a good family and friends to support you…until a solar flash kills all technology you’ve relied upon your whole life. Suddenly, you’re faced with learning old-school survival tactics and escape from a government you once trusted for fear of your life and freedom. Oh, and you must tackle your greatest fear: birds. This is the world Victoria Lehrer explores in her book, The Augur’s View.
Gavin’s teenage years were much the same as any other kid his age until a solar flash turned his life upside down. With the sudden absence of electricity and running water, Gavin’s family struggled to survive until they were rescued by a military convoy. Living in a district run by the iron fist of the new governing body, the “Union of the Americas”, Gavin quickly came to realize that a semblance of normalcy was not worth the cost of his free will. Escaping under the cover of night with an eagle for a guide, Gavin finds his way to the Three Mountains community, where he learns there is more to life—and flying—than he thought was possible in this new world.
My favourite thing about this book is its unique take on an old premise. Many books illustrate the end of the technological world as we know it; however, Lehrer uses novel creatures to add a new flare to an old story. The “augurs” are described as brilliantly coloured birds who are capable of carrying a human passenger with ease, once trust has been built between bird and rider. Aside from the “augurs” themselves being explained thoroughly, Lehrer also flushed out their entire life history, complete with nesting requirements and natural predators. All the information on these beautiful sounding birds definitely puts them in my list of top ten fantasy creatures!
While the premise and thought put into this book are outstanding, one aspect I could not overlook while I was reading was the overt detail in which the author describes female characters. The highly detailed descriptions of appearances, voices, and perceived intentions may have found a place in a first-person narrative, or even third person had the author put equal effort into character descriptions of all genders and identities.
Finally, I feel like Lehrer relied so heavily on her world and plot to carry the story that she lost out on building well-rounded, three-dimensional characters. I feel the biggest lost opportunity for character depth was one of the smartest scientists of the Three Mountains community, whose only role was that of a love interest and damsel in distress for the main character and possessed no unique qualities of her own.
In conclusion, this book would make a good read for anyone looking for a different take on the end of the world as we know it or simply looking for a new favourite fantasy creature. While the ideas in this book are good, after considering the over-explaining of female characters and lack of character depth, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book to novice science fiction and fantasy readers, as the premise is intriguing; however, the execution is likely to leave a science fiction/fantasy fan wanting more.
The Augur's View
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