“I wish I could say this is a story of how I saved everyone and set the world to right. But it isn’t. This is a story of my failure.”
Laika Roen has always been strangely attracted to Lisan, a mysterious and isolated country where the citizens worship their despotic leader. When Laika is invited to travel to Lisan as a visiting scholar, she jumps at the chance to experience Lisan’s unusual culture firsthand.
But Laika gets more than she bargained for when her trip is disrupted by violence and she’s forced to set out on her own. As she journeys through forbidden sections of the foreign country, Laika discovers horrible truths about the relationship between Lisan’s leader and his people.
Can a simple scholar change the course of an entire country? And even if she can, should she? The distinction between right and wrong blurs as Laika explores not only Lisan, but her own conscience.
Star rating – ★★★★★ Plot – excellently paced
Characters – diverse, well developed and relatable
Movie Potential – ★★★★★ (I see this being along the lines of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Ease of reading – very easy to read and follow
Cover – ✔ Suitable Title – ✔ Would I read it again – ✔
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
I was intrigued by this book right from the start. I instantly took to Laika and I don’t mind admitting that she thinks a lot like me. She can be naïve, sometimes overly so, but she’s also feisty and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to follow her dream of going to Lisan. I think her excitement perfectly sets us up for what’s to come in the rest of the book. I also love that the beginning promises this will be different to all the other hero-saves-the-day novels. And this delivered on that promise, right until the last page.
I loved the inserts of information. Sometimes, with a world unfamiliar to the reader, the author tries too hard to explain everything at once. Not so, with this book. All the information came when it was relevant and we were only told what we needed to know at the time.
I love Laika’s excitement, even when she knows it’s probably the wrong emotion or the wrong time to feel it. She just can’t help herself and I can’t help but like her. I really hoped, as I was reading the first 20-30% that Laika would fall in love with a Lisanese person, or even Aland, just so that she would get her adventure and love story wrapped up in one. As soon as Rodya came into the story and I read their funny, sarcastic exchanges, I knew I wanted him as her romantic counterpart. I won’t tell you whether I got it or not, but I will say that I was very satisfied with the progression of her romance and the ending.
The romantic in me had a field day, during the first 50% wondering who Laika would fall for. First it was any Lisanese person, then Aland, then Rodya, then I wanted her to fall for one of the spies so that she would get a touch of danger mixed into her adventure. I have to admit that I never really saw any of the plot coming, ahead of time. The only thing I got right was my assumption over Rodya’s past. I did hope and wonder if that was true.
I find the whole story original, intriguing right from the start, well written and enjoyable. There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about it. I fell in love with Rodya and could happily have been good friends with Laika. I also had a bit of a soft spot for Neek and Lord Hamin, when we finally met him. He was so eccentric that I really enjoyed reading about him. Aland was everything I expected and anticipated, from the little hints we were given in the build up to meeting him.
I read a few reviews, when I was 80% of the way through, just to gather what other people were saying. I never read them before a review, because I want to make up my own mind. I noticed a lot of comments about no Happily Ever After and the sudden ending. I have to disagree with both. We were set up on the first page for no HEA and I don’t think the ending is sudden at all. I love the realistic ending and how it perfectly fits the story and the characters. Everything is told through Laika’s POV so we only know what she knows.
I’ll admit that there’s so much more I’d love to talk about that I can’t. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone, so you’ll just have to go read it to find out.
This is an excellently paced mixture of mystery, suspense and action. I never knew who to trust or what would happen next. I love how honest Laika and Rodya are, especially when things get complicated. I love the academic slant we have, from reading in Laika’s POV and how I never felt out of my depth because even the things I wasn’t familiar with were explained just enough for me to keep up.
I’d love to see another book from these characters, maybe with Rodya stepping up and being a bigger character, but that’s all up to the author. If not, it doesn’t change how much I enjoyed this book.
Maron Anrow grew up in California, came of age in the Midwest, and is now passing time in New Jersey. She lives with her husband, stepdaughter, and three awesome cats.
Maron has a Ph.D. in social psychology and has published (under her real name) over 20 scientific articles since 2008. Laika in Lisan is her first novel.