I received a digital galley of Black Wings Beating by Alex London from NetGalley. I also picked up an arc at San Diego Comic-con, so I was really looking forward to reading this one. Sadly I found the book relied a lot on shock value and plot devices, so I gave it 3 stars. Read on to find out more!
Click to read the synopsis!
The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.
Brysen strives to be a great falconer–while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She’s nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.
Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he’s long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother’s future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.
Birds are amazing to me. I grew up with a cockatiel and parakeets; I always loved spending time talking to them and wondering what they were thinking. I was looking forward to this one after learning that it focused a lot on falconry. The birds are a major part of the story, to the point that sometimes I forgot I was reading a YA fantasy novel, and thought I was reading a natural history of hawks. That’s not always bad, but it happened so often that I was distracted by it.
Black Wings Beating focuses on two main characters who are also twins, Kylee and Brysen. Kylee has a might-be-magical gift for communicating with birds, and Brysen doesn’t but he aspires to become a master falconer. Brysen also has a terrible boyfriend. Seriously, this guy is obviously bad news from the word Go and Brysen is willing to do anything for this guy. Therein lies my first major issues with the plot of this book.
The twins go on a quest together to settle a debt for Brysen’s boyfriend. Brysen doesn’t have much choice in the matter, either he agrees to do it and risk his life, or his BF will be murdered. Not super fair, if I do say so myself! Brysen is reluctant to bring his sister with him, they bicker constantly. I want to see more sibling dynamics in YA, but this one was lacking to me. They fought against each other more than they fought for each other, and I found that distracting.
One other big issue I had was with the storytelling. The book is very heavy on exposition and it doesn’t come through the narrative organically. There are several chapters that end with a hint of something that happened in the past. This gets overused and really bothered me. There is also some secret-keeping in this book. If Kylee and Brysen communicated instead of keeping secrets from each other, they wouldn’t have struggled as much.
The falconry was interesting, and I do think some readers will really enjoy this one. I was hoping for some novelty in this novel and it did not deliver.
Do you know any good books including lots of animals? Please leave me recommendations in the comments!