First of all, I would like to thank Dave @The Write Reads for organising this blog tour and allowing me to be a part of it. Thank you also to Kristin Ward for letting us read a free copy of her fabulous book.
Having read and reviewed Kristin’s book After The Green Withered for our first blog tour last year, I wanted to say that it has been an absolute pleasure to connect with her; she is really lovely and I’m glad that we have become friends on social media. It made me want to like this book even more, and it did not disappoint!
Published: 23rd August 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Trigger warnings: Animal death/suffering
Beneath rock and soil, trees and oceans, she lies. Under concrete jungles and poisoned rivers, she slumbers. She is Mother Earth.
And mankind has turned its back on its mother.
The visions begin on Terran’s seventeenth birthday. Horrifying images pummel her brain, while a voice commands her to see beyond the world she thought she knew and into the heart of it. Gaia has awakened, brought to consciousness by the greed of a species that has tainted every aspect of her being in a tide of indifference. With this awareness, comes rage. Gaia calls upon her children to unleash her fury, wreaking vengeance on humanity.
Terran will emerge in a world on the brink of collapse, to face a being whose wrath is beyond imagining.
This was a story that positively brimmed with imagination and meaning. Descriptively written and possessing a powerful overriding message, I was thoroughly impressed by how the issue of climate change provides the basis for an enjoyable and engaging young adult fantasy, where it is cleverly woven into an intelligent plot.
As in her previous books, Kristin Ward uses climate change as the principal theme, and it is hugely effective again here as she portrays the Earth as a living creature with a physical consciousness. I really like how this aspect of the story was introduced subtly and gradually gained more prominence, bringing with it tension and high stakes.
The book is written entirely in the first person from the perspective of Terran, a 17-year-old girl. One morning, after waking up, she experiences a mysterious and frightening vision that shows destruction and suffering. She and her best friend Beth look for answers on what might have caused it, but the visions keep happening and Terran eventually goes to see a medium called Silas, who reveals the truth of her identity.
From there, the intensity of the plot begins to escalate, and the fantasy aspects become more pronounced. The writing contains an increasing number of ideas, but for me it never became too complex or overwrought. The same can be said about the romance, which is a regular presence in the story without ever taking centre stage.
Terran (I soon worked out why she was called that!) was a very likeable and well developed protagonist. She had a lot of excellent character traits which made me connect easily with her, from a love of comfort food and books, to a passion for hiking and being outdoors. Her reaction to being told what her visions mean also struck me as totally believable.
One of the absolute highlights of the book for me was the friendship between Terran and Beth. I love fiction that contains very close platonic friendships, and this one is no different as it played an important role both in terms of the theme of the book, but also its resolution. It is so heart-warming to read, and I adored every scene where they drove to school together or ordered two different things at a café so they could share both.
The other characters were less developed, but at the same time they all had a great deal of distinctiveness. Silas was enigmatic and intriguing, and the way Celeste practiced divination often made me wonder if there was more to her than met the eye. My only issue with Raife was that he shared perhaps one too many personality traits with Terran, but otherwise all good.
Some elements of the story did get slightly repetitive as it progressed, but there is no doubting the relevance of the theme it conveys. Terran’s journey also poses some very interesting moral questions, such as what the cost should be for preserving the health of the Earth and its climate.
Overall, I found this an arresting and eloquently written fantasy, with plenty of important topics touched upon in detail along the way. In Terran we have a great protagonist who drives the story well, and through all of these factors and more, Rise Of Gaia leaves a discernable impact.
Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious with it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning YA novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. In her YA SciFi-Fantasy, Rise of Gaia, Kristin intertwines her environmental passions with fantasy elements, creating a world that holds a secret deep within its heart.
She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.
A book which had me fully engaged right from the start, containing great characters and an outstanding friendship, all brought together by impressive writing. This was a good read.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐