There are lovely descriptive, almost transcendently metaphysical passages included within the finale to Alexis Marie Chute’s ‘The 8th Island Trilogy’ INSIDE THE SUN, such as: “Tessa’s mind toys with the blades of emerald grass beneath her, so saturated with color and life, she is certain they are conscious. She feels past them to the damp soil forming to her shape and farther to the sharp rock of the cliff. Her mind senses the rock’s hum, its dormant energy wild and ready to manifest. The rock warms the soil and charges the grass.”
In theory, INSIDE THE SUN’s premise is simple: all the worlds in this fantasy universe are dying, and it’s up to a somewhat chaotic main family — at least one of whom is also dying — to fix it. Subplots include various beings falling in complicated forms of love while regularly handling emotions badly. There’s magic a plenty, along with unexpected twists in bloodlines, interesting illustrations, quite a host of evils to contend with, and Naiu — the source of all life — dangerously retreating. All of which could and should feel more engaging than it does as there are not-insignificant flaws that may well hinder an adequate number of readers from being able to get lost in the complex story..
For instance, too many words and phrases are repetitively used without intent which serves to weaken their impact. (The word emerald, for example, appears 16 times.) More crucially, there is an overabundance of characters careening in and out of the plot without coming fully to life on the page. One reason is that since –as especially the Earth-based life forms think and speak–they more-than-occasionally don’t sound like real people thinking or speaking. (Ella at 15 tries to talk herself out of being afraid with the phrase: “Put on your big girl panties;” a expression from a generation not that many 15-year-old readers today would relate to.)
INSIDE THE SUN is strongest when delving into concepts, such as all forms of energy feeding other energy forms, and perhaps most evocative to readers who are already invested in the previous series titles. As a standalone novel, this one doesn’t feel sufficiently developed. It can be quite the feat to create a series finale intriguing and accessible enough to draw readers in who perhaps haven’t yet enjoyed the books that have come before, but accomplishing this is generally necessary in order for a new-ish series to find its audience.
Though rich in descriptive passages and interesting concepts, Alexis Marie Chute’s INSIDE THE SUN–the final book in her young adult fantasy trilogy–doesn’t quite feel feel sufficiently developed to stand on it’s own.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader