“Akarnae” by Lynette Noni! (Spoiler-free Review)

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Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Hello readers of Oh My Blog! Today I’ll be discussing the first book in the Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni – Akarnae. I was kindly sent this book by the lovely people at Simon & Schuster in exchange for a completely honest review. The story follows 16-year-old Alex Jennings. The novel originally focuses on Alex arriving at a new school, forced to attend boarding school as due to travelling plans, she cannot communicate with her parents for eight months. However, she is amazed when instead of walking into the principal’s office, she walks through a doorway and finds herself instead trapped at an entirely different school in the mystical world of Medora, a magical fantasy world. Despite the fact that she is eager to immediately escape from Medora and return to her own world, only the principal of the Medoran school can help her. Unfortunately that singular source of assistance is unavailable – the principal is missing. Alex is forced to wait for the principal, unaware of when he will return. As she waits, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora’s boarding school for teenagers with magical gifts, and has to come to terms with this strange new world so similar, yet so completely different to her own.
Overall, I would rate this book a 4.5/5 stars. It was an entirely unique and interesting plot and world, and despite its similarities to many other stories, it still managed to be unlike any book I’ve ever read. I really enjoyed the world-building, which helped to make up for some of my issues with the characterisation in this story. Unfortunately, it took me half of the book to become immersed in the world and plot, which often occurs in fantasy reads due to very different and often other-worldly settings. However, once I was past the half-way point, I absolutely LOVED the book! I would definitely recommend it to all fantasy lovers, and to all lovers of a classic, fairytale-like story.

Medora is described as a truly unique world, and I really admired the detail in which the author described it. Wondrous oddities are mentioned – whether it be the strange animal species or perhaps the mysterious Library itself. The whole book gave off an Alice and Wonderland-esque feel, with a good dash of favourites like Narnia. Yes, it took time to accept and enjoy the random and often confusing feel of Medora and its inhabitants, but honestly, you just have to roll with it. If Alice can go down the rabbit hole to Wonderland, and Alex can open the doors into Medora, then we as readers can definitely accept Akarnae’s odd, yet awesome, story. As soon as I allowed myself to be carried along with the story, as opposed to trying to apply logic to clearly and purposeful randomness, I came to really enjoy it. That was one of the elements of the book that really increased my curiosity – the complete insanity and randomness of the plot, that I eventually came to enjoy.

The vastness, variety and imagination of the world really caught me by surprise. I did not expect the amount of detail that went into this book; the specific history and events in Medora. Things such as the extraordinary Library, magical healing potions and other mind-boggling details worked to create a truly unforgettable and remarkable world.

However, despite an amazingly planned-out setting and story-line, I found that I did not enjoy the characterisation in this book. While the characters were more than names on paper, they weren’t engaging or relatable in any sense, which was one of the main factors that increased my difficulty when beginning this book. While I did adore some characters like Darrius and Fletcher, and I definitely liked all of the characters, my main issue was with Alex. Frankly, her perspective was too young and vague for her age – I mean, I’m only a year younger than her and I don’t think like that. The characters not only lacked depth, but also created relationships much too quickly to be very realistic. Though there is no romantic endeavours in this story, erasing any chance of Insta-Love, there was definitely Insta-Friendship. I feel like the main character bonded too quickly with her newfound friends, though it has been implied that Alex does not really have many attachments in the real world.

Overall, a story that I absolutely loved for the most part, excluding my issues with the childish and vague characters. Akarnae was highly original and engaging, and I will definitely be picking up the rest of the books in the series as they release!

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