Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review: Melokai by Rosalyn Kelly

Melokai by Rosalyn Kelly
Self-published, 2017
Ebook. 392 pages.

About Melokai:
"Legendary warrior Ramya has successfully ruled as Melokai for longer than most. Prosperous, peaceful, and happy, her people love her. Or so she thinks.

 Ramya’s time is up. Bracing herself for the gruesome sentence imposed on all Melokais who have served their purpose, she hears instead a shocking prophecy. 

Is the abrupt appearance of a mysterious, eastern cave creature the prophesied danger? Or is it something darker, more evil? And what of the wolves? Will the ferocious war with their kind oust her from power? 

Suddenly Ramya must fight threats from all sides to save her mountain realm. But while her back is turned, a conspiracy within her inner circle is festering. Ramya and her female warriors must crush an epic rebellion before it can destroy her and devastate her beloved nation. 

She thinks it’s the end, but it’s just the beginning..."

This is a tricky review to write because my opinions are somewhat all over the place. On the whole, this is a really fascinating novel with complex, innovative ideas explored and an expansive fantasy world that is brilliantly created. Despite this, I didn't love other aspects of this book quite as much as I expected to.

Peqka, the main location of this book, is a strong matriarchal society in which men are basically kept as a form of sex slave for the women and are thus treated as such, with pretty much no rights or worth outside of those duties. This was one of my interesting aspects of this novel and I loved exploring this experiment to see how Kelly had everything play out. Peqka is really a harsh, cruel land that is (obviously) not fair to all of its residents, but I think this provided a really interesting look at alternative worlds and the potential for different societies. I was initially surprised by just how violent the Peqkan culture was, but it just added more intensity and elements to consider when learning about this culture.

There are a lot of characters, and of those characters... it's hard to pick a favorite. In fact, it's hard to say whether I really liked any of them at all. I've seen in some other reviews that this lack of likability of characters was a big issue for them, but I have to say it didn't really remove all that much from my experience. Do I like having characters to root for? Of course.  Is it necessary that I root for and respect all of the characters in a book? Nope! I know this will be different for many people, but following questionable people can be just as interesting as lovable people. The thing that makes these good unlikable characters is that they have motivations, goals, hopes, passions--they are multidimensional, which is most important.

Melokai Ramya, for instance, is an extremely ambitious, strong-willed woman who pretty much does whatever she wants, whether it defies those she works with and the people she rules over or not. In ways, her passionate demeanor is admirable, but she also makes some extremely questionable decisions throughout the book that left me wondering what exactly her purpose was and why she seemed like a such a flaky, overly trusting leader.

There are other prominent POVs that we follow, such as Ferraz, Jessima, Darrio, Ammad, and many more, all of which have many negative aspects to their character. However, Ferraz also has some reasonable justifications for some of his actions and there are a few times when I did sympathize with his situation, despite any other attitudes he may also have. I think one of the biggest issues in regards to the characters for me was their lack of consistency. There were times when I felt the dialogue was a bit similar in style and the characters seemed exceptionally flighty or not consistent with their established personality. To add to the dialogue issue, I also found some of the dialogue between characters to be a bit stiff or forced at times, which left a rather unnatural feeling.

Just as there are a lot of characters, there is also a lot going on in this book. We visit multiple lands and are introduced to a wide variety of conflicts and goals among each one, making it important to keep track of each one. I enjoyed the variety and getting to know more about everyone that inhabits this world, but it just felt like it was a bit much at times. Perhaps if the book were longer or if certain smaller parts were removed it might not have felt quite as overwhelming. Despite this, I did really enjoy learning about all the different lands, how they were run, and the cultures associated with each. I loved having the 'wolf' pack POV for the originality it added, and I was also fascinated by the Trog community and their way of life. In the end, I really just wanted to learn more about some of the cultures that were described, as I felt some weren't elaborated upon quite as much as others.

The best thing about Melokai was that no matter how much my feelings wavered throughout, I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen and I never felt the desire to not finish this book. To me, that shows unmistakable skill at storytelling and being able to maintain the attention of an audience. Despite any of the complaints I had about this book, I do still find myself interested to know what is going to happen to these lands and how the fallout at the end of Melokai is going to be dealt with, so I'm definitely going to keep my eye out for the next book.

Overall, I've given Melokai 3.75 stars! If you love a unique, complex society to explore that likes to experiment (such as the matriarchal society), then I definitely recommend Melokai. If you like or don't mind unlikable characters, then this one is for you.

Content warning: There's a lot of sexual content and violence (including sexual violence) in this book, so if that's not your thing then just keep that in mind.

*I received a copy of Melokai courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book. This was a TBRindr request!*

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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