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Book Review & Giveaway: The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier

Title: The Floating Islands

Author: Rachel Neumeier

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House)
Publication Date: February 2011
Hardcover: 400 pages

When Trei loses his family in a tragic disaster, he must search out distant relatives in a new land. The Floating Islands are unlike anything Trei has ever seen: stunning, majestic, and graced with kajurai, men who soar the skies with wings.

Trei is instantly sky-mad, and desperate to be a kajurai himself. The only one who fully understands his passion is Araenè, his newfound cousin. Prickly, sarcastic, and gifted, Araenè has a secret of her own . . . a dream a girl cannot attain.

Trei and Araenè quickly become conspirators as they pursue their individual paths. But neither suspects that their lives will be deeply entwined, and that the fate of the Floating Islands will lie in their hands. . . .

Filled with rich language, and told in alternating voices, The Floating Islands is an all-encompassing young adult fantasy read.

Stand alone or series: Can be read as a standalone novel but my goodness I hope there are sequels

How did I get this book: ARC from the author

Why did I read this book: I have read and reviewed one of Rachel Neumeier’s adult novels, Lord of the Changing Winds, which I really enjoyed (note: it’s my own fault I’ve been super lazy about buying the final two books in her Griffin Mage trilogy; I really must get on that). So, when I saw this gorgeous cover, read the blurb, and realized this book was all from the same author, I was hooked. I haven’t seen much around the interwebs for the release of The Floating Islands – which also, naturally, piques my curiosity.

Review:

Trei was fourteen the first time he saw the Floating Islands. He had made the whole long voyage south from Rounn in a haze of loss and misery, not really noticing the harbors in which the ship sometimes anchored or the sea between. But here, where both sea and sky lay pearl-gray in the dawn, the wonder of the Floating Islands broke at last into that haze.

After losing his mother, father and elder sister in the devastating volcanic eruption that leveled his hometown of Rounn, Trei has been in a fog of despair. Turned away by his Tolounn dwelling Uncle and Aunt, Trei has no other choice but to make his way to his mother’s family in the mythic Floating Islands to the south. From his first glimpse of the islands, emerging like jewels in the mist-shrouded sky, Trei instantly feels in awe at his new home – and from his first glimpse of the mysterious flying men, the kajuraihi, Trei knows that his destiny lies in the winds and sky. When he arrives at his Uncle’s home, Trei finds himself warmly embraced by his southern family, although his younger cousin, the headstrong Araenè is initially resentful of his presence, disturbing her privacy and routine at home. For Araenè is no docile Island girl, ready to do her part and become a submissive wife; instead, Araenè dresses up as a boy and sneaks out of her home to explore the city and attends lectures from famous cooks to hone her own skills, all the while lamenting the fact that she was not born a boy and can never use her talents for anything other than homemaking.

When Trei wins his audition to become one of the kajuraihi and passes the initiation, and Araenè finds herself drawn to the hidden school of mages – only a select few mages are drawn each generation – it becomes clear that for both Trei and Araenè, the future holds unexpected, dramatic twists. The fates of these two cousins will intertwine, resulting in heartache and tragedy, and courage and triumph.

The Floating Islands is Rachel Neumeier’s second novel for young adults, and in this humble reviewer’s opinion, a completely winsome, traditional fantasy novel, with adventure and intrigue in spades. The first striking thing about the book is its unique vista setting; for once, the cover gets the feel and tone of the novel almost perfectly. The titled islands are these gorgeous, magical bodies, floating above the sea, proudly independent of the nations surrounding them by virtue of the same dragon magic that the kajuraihi use to fly. Beyond creating a unique airborne landscape and atmospheric setting for the book, the actual islands play a vital role in the plot, and also shape the characterizations of the book’s dual protagonists. One of the biggest (but most important) challenges with creating a new world in fantasy is managing to imbue a landscape with enough influence to create a unique culture, psyche, and flavor for its characters – and in this, Ms. Neumeier excels. Easily, the southern floating islands with their dragons, flying men, mages, and potent mix of spices is one of my favorite YA fantasy settings in recent memory.

But enough of setting and atmosphere – what of the story and the characters? In terms of character, Rachel Neumeier manages to do the dual protagonist thing with alternating storylines, but told in a single third person (limited omniscient) voice, which is awesome and effective. Although I found myself a little less tolerant of Araenè (at least, initially), both protagonists are worthy heroes with their own sizable obstacles to overcome. Trei’s struggles, with his confused sense of loyalty and patriotism as both a child of Tolounn and a newly-made kajuraihi, is the defining story of the novel, in my opinion. While Araenè’s struggles with gender roles and her inadvertent secret keeping certainly are fascinating and play a vital role in the development of the story, and certainly Araenè is a spirited and enjoyable young heroine, to me, this is Trei’s story. As he tries to prove himself to his peers and teachers, as a true islander and an asset, he also feels undeniable twinges of regret – for although his adopted home is this strange new place in the sky, he was born of Tolounn. Also, he struggles with his own grief with the loss of his family – and the accusations that Trei may be a spy for Tolounn, in the face of all that he has suffered, makes Trei an instantly sympathetic and powerful character. In contrast, Araenè’s struggles are no less genuine, but a bit more…familiar. Although both characters use common fantasy tropes (the orphaned, powerful child; the girl warrior that masquerades as a boy to gain denied power), they are used skillfully enough, and with the imaginative scope of setting and plotting, this traditionalism is not so much an annoyance as it is a familiar and comfortable friend. My only quibble with character lay with the inner workings of these dual protagonists, as both felt a little too adult in their thought processes and narrative voices. Granted, these are two young adults that have gone through a whole lot over the course of the book, so perhaps this is warranted.

From a storytelling perspective, Ms. Neumeier truly shines – just as in her adult work, the world and societies that the author has created with The Floating Islands is truly remarkable stuff. I loved the intricate differences in politics and technology between the Islands and the militant Tolounnese, just as I loved the role of the mages, the dragon-men and their different types of magic within this world. The story itself is a coming of age tale, a war story, and – above all else – an adventure. For fear of spoilers, I won’t say too much about the story, other than even though a number of familiar plot fixtures abound, Ms. Neumeier manages to imbue her story with enough life and originality to make it a truly memorable new entry in the YA fantasy arena. Absolutely recommended for young readers, old readers, and those that want an excapist, nostalgic traditional fantasy.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:

Trei wondered how a city would look if it was deliberately built to be splendid. In Tolounn, all the towns had just sort of grown up where people had once decided to settle, like the town of Rounn growing up around the Rounn River, where, according to family legend, Great-grandfather Meraunn had once made his fortune backing the new steamboats over ox-drawn keelboats. He found he was curious about this new city, but didn’t know exactly what to ask.

“We won’t see Milendri before tomorrow afternoon,” Mana rattled on. “We’ll be passing islands all day, of course. . . .”

But Trei was no longer listening. He had just caught sight of his first winged Island fliers, and had attention to spare for nothing else.

There were a dozen of them—no, Trei saw as they approached: fourteen. Fifteen. They flew as geese fly in the fall, in a formation like a spear point. At first the shape the winged men made was stark as a rune against the empty sky, but as they approached the ship, they broke their formation, wheeled, and circled low. The morning light caught in the feathers of their glorious wings, crimson as blood, except for one man whose wings were black as grief.

As the fliers passed above the ship, Trei saw how each man wore his wings like a strange kind of cloak. Crimson bands crossed the fliers’ arms and bodies. Though the wings looked like real wings, he saw clearly that the men were flying by some understandable kind of magic and were not actually winged people.

Additional Thoughts: Reading about these Floating Islands instantly puts me in the mind of Avatar‘s Hallelujah Mountains – or the actual mountains the film was based on:

The inspiration for the film, in China.

Reading Next: Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio

Giveaway Details:

Courtesy of the author, we have ONE copy of The Floating Islands up for grabs! The contest is open to everyone, and will run until Saturday, February 19 at 11:59PM (PST). In honor of the gorgeously evocative titled Floating Islands, to enter leave a comment telling us your favorite atmospheric YA fantasy book setting (for example, someone could name the enchanted castle from Robin McKinley’s Beauty, or the ice palace from Sarah Beth Durst’s Ice, and so on and so forth). Only ONE entry per person please! Multiple entries will be automatically disqualified. Good luck!

114 Comments

  • Carol Thompson
    February 17, 2011 at 12:39 am

    For me this would be the mountains and caves in New Zealand as seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  • The Book Memoirs (Elle)
    February 17, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I would have to go extremely old school on this one and suggest JM Barrie’s Peter Pan. The ultimate coming of age novel and yet how can you possibly escape the majesty of the Never Land? The towering, snowy summits of Neverpeak Mountain where you can “see beyond belief” and the sinister Maze of Regrets fashioned by ancient witches, juxtaposed against the enchantment of Pixie Hollow and its hundreds of tiny jingling lights? Plus. There are Traditional! Pirates! hanging out in the bay. (That was worth it just for the chance to throw a classic in).

    – Elle

  • Angela
    February 17, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Also Peter Pan. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Kahlan
    February 17, 2011 at 1:10 am

    The lands Raisa and Amon travels through to get to Oden’s Ford in Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima.

    ama_bling-bling AT hotmail D0T com

  • Sara S.
    February 17, 2011 at 1:17 am

    I really loved Cornelia Funke’s settings for Inkspell and Inkdeath. The gypsy camps, the chilling castles, the tree dwelling- the whole world was really alive.

  • Tiffany M.
    February 17, 2011 at 1:23 am

    The library from Garth Nix’s Lireal is amazing. It was a favorite part of the book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Jade Walker
    February 17, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Every single Dianne Wynne Jones setting, though especially the one in Howl’s Moving Castle – the way she makes a place which is sort of modern, but trapped in time.

  • Greg
    February 17, 2011 at 2:45 am

    Have to second thé vote for Dianne Wynne Jones Howl’s Moving Castle

  • Stephanie
    February 17, 2011 at 4:15 am

    I would have to say Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series. It’s captured me for a long time just from reading the books, and I desperately wished and believed that I could attend. The films only made that wish stronger, and I still hate it that Hogwarts if fictional.

  • K.Lee
    February 17, 2011 at 5:01 am

    I would really really love to sit and chat in one of the floating coffee houses in Francis Hardinge’s FLY BY NIGHT. I can so picture the coffee huse seemingly looking norma and then just floating away into the river at scheduled times.

  • Nikki Egerton
    February 17, 2011 at 5:25 am

    I tend to pay a lot more attention to character, politics, history in a story, rather than setting. This is something I will have to think about, although the candy shop in Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver springs to mind.
    Thanks for the giveaway xx

  • Meg
    February 17, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Ok, I dont’ know if Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn” is technically YA or not, but it definitely could be with the teen protagonist and everything. Anyway, I just finished reading it this morning and the mists that comes out at night are pretty freakin’ rad. The whole world is really awesome-from the mist to the ash to the Atium mines. I’m lovin’ it and so glad there are 2 more to read 🙂

    Thanks for the review and the giveaway!

  • Katy
    February 17, 2011 at 6:08 am

    I’d have to say Peter Pan and Neverland.

  • Anonymous
    February 17, 2011 at 6:12 am

    For YA I’m going to go with Kristen Cashore’s world of the Seven Kingdoms in her books Graceling and Fire. However, these were not the first books to come to my mind. The first book to come to mind immediately was Kvothe’s world in Patrick Rothfuss’s In the Name of the Wind, but it is not marketed as “YA” so I had to pick another.

  • Katy
    February 17, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Oh here’ my info for the above comment.

  • Shannon H
    February 17, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Favorite fantasy setting…Sevenwaters from the Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier is one of my favorites. I do also just in general love everything about The Name of the Wind

  • Jenn C.
    February 17, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Ooh, I could definitely live in the castle from Beauty–the gardens, the library, the magical wardrobe, Greatheart (he comes too, right?)–it has been one of my dream fantasy settings since I was a child. More recently, I have been drawn into Sherwood Smith’s Sartorias-deles, and Harry Dresden’s Chicago in the Dresden Files.

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  • Alexandra
    February 17, 2011 at 7:09 am

    I’ve always really loved the Old Kingdom setting in Garth Nix’s books. They’ve always been special books for me.

  • Hannah
    February 17, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Maxwell Hyde’s house in Diana Wynne Jones’ “The Merlin Conspiracy”. It was so magical and amazing, whenever I read that book and get to that part I get this happy contented feeling and wish for a magical lake made out of five kinds of sea and a fridge that gave me strawberry mousse. 🙂 I’ve never wanted to go anywhere so much as to that house. (Well, except maybe Hogwarts!)

    Thanks for holding the giveaway, and I’m so glad the book is as good as it sounded – I’ve been looking nervously forward to it and it’s a relief to hear you enjoyed it so much!

  • Kate
    February 17, 2011 at 7:35 am

    I love the world of Pern in the Dragon Riders of Pern by Anne McCaffery. I would love to see a hold up close or see the southern continent…

  • Su
    February 17, 2011 at 7:36 am

    I loved the descriptions of the prison, Incarceron, from the book of the same name. In turns beautiful and horrific, it had so much depth.

    Thank you for the contest!

  • Gerd D.
    February 17, 2011 at 7:37 am

    My favourite YA setting has to be the mountain dwellings of the Goblins in “The Hobbit”.

    For one, because the description of the Goblins sounded in my mind so much like a steam-punk gremlins version of German WWI soldiers, secretly still plotting away on world domination, that I simply had to love them.
    Perfect little villains. 👿

    And for other I felt that the place was brought perfectly to life in the book.
    Not that I would want to live there, God forbid!

  • Angie
    February 17, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I have to agree with Carol about the settings in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

  • Jackie
    February 17, 2011 at 8:17 am

    One more for Middle Earth! My personal favorite settings there are Hobbiton and the Prancing Pony (probably because of all the times I reread those chapters due to my youthful crush on Aragorn…)

  • Marie
    February 17, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Ditto on “Beauty”, Middle Earth, Harry Potter and “Incarceron”!

  • Miss Ash
    February 17, 2011 at 9:44 am

    The wardrobe in Chronicles of Narnia! <3

  • TJ Mathews
    February 17, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I loved the early America of Orson Scot Card’s Chronicles of Alvin Maker. His blending of history and magic creates an alternate world that is, well, magical.

  • Elizabeth
    February 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I’m going to go with the bear’s castle in East, or maybe the troll’s castle. I pretty much love all the settings in East.

  • Paige M.
    February 17, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I almost mentioned both Garth Nix’s library, and Francis Hardinge’s floating coffee houses — but if I think about the first books that blew me away in terms of setting, I would have to go with Brian Jacques’ Redwall Abbey, and the surrounding woods of Mossflower.

  • Tammy
    February 17, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Hogwarts. I’d love to say something more original, and I’m not even a huge Harry Potter fanatic, but who am i kidding, I’d love to go to Hogwarts.

    Hmm…there doesn’t seem to be a numerical rating for this book?

  • The Errant Bookshelf
    February 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Definitley Ravenwood Manor (especially Lena’s bedroom) from Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures for Urban Fantasy. For High Fantasy, probably Nightmarket from Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series.

  • Steffie
    February 17, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I haven’t read that many YA novels with a foreign setting like they have in fey-stories, etc.

    But I’ve read Harry Potter and absolutely loved the books. The setting of the whole wizard-world was fascinating to me and I loved all these gimmicks that J.K. Rowling put in the books (e.g. those baby-like screaming plants, Ronald’s home, the quidditch game, etc.)!

    Those Islands also remind me of the Avatar-setting and if the feeling of the book is the same as the cover and your review presumes, I can’t wait to have the book in my own hands! 😀

    Greetings from Germany!

  • Ginny
    February 17, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I don’t know if it would technically count as a setting, but I loved the Leviathan, the floating whale/battle ship from the book Leviathan. Being alive would it count as a setting or a character?

  • Amanda Lee
    February 17, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Such a difficult choice… I think I’d have to go with several people above and choose Neverland. Pirates, fairies, mermaids… sounds delightful!

  • Maria
    February 17, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I can’t choose one, but my choices are all classics: Narnia, Middle Earth, Harry Potter world (not just Hogwarts! Diagon Alley, the Weasley’s, all of it). The authors just made such an incredibly detailed and expansive world, as opposed to just a setting or a single location, that I feel like I could spend several lifetimes visiting them.

  • Lillian Maloney
    February 17, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I’d have to say that the world of Redwall, with the Mossflower forest, Redwall abbey, and the immense badger stronghold of Salamandastron is definitely my favorite.

  • Lindsay Elizabeth
    February 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    One of my favorite worlds is that of the rats in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. I love the inside of the bush, and all the places that they are building.

  • Cindy
    February 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Thank you for that giveaway !
    My favorite YA novel in that regard is a French author’s book coming soon and called the “Fedeylins”. It tells the story of Cahyl and his people, very little creatures who have to defend themselves against the many dangers of the Pond. As regards English YA, I would say the universe of “Fire” by K. Cashore.

  • Caroline
    February 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    The Mortal Engines quartet by Philip Reeve, plus the prequels, sent my imagination crazy!

  • Serena
    February 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Have to give another to Hogwarts, from Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Moving staircases, portraits that are witty characters all to themselves, hidden passages, walls “pretending to be doors,”…what more could you want from a school?

  • Stephan
    February 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I’d say the land of the Pegasi in McKinley’s Pegasus.

  • Benni
    February 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I really Wonderland, but from The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. The Floating Islands sounds amazing, and the cover art is just gorgeous. Thank you!

  • April
    February 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I definitely agree with Middle Earth and Redwall, but I think I’d have to go with the world in the His Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman.

  • Erica
    February 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I love the settings in the Last Unicorn, though I don’t know if I could pick just one from it. Mommy Fortuna’s carnival always creeped me out, but I also like Haggard’s castle. I will second (third, fourth – however many mentions there’ve been) the Old Kingdom from Garth Nix’s books, and will also mention the Goblin Market in Sarah Rees Brennan’s. Because I’m indecisive like that.

  • Neal
    February 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Oooh, toughy! After an hour’s thought I’d have to say the most evocative setting for me has been the forest of DreamDark in Laini Taylor’s awesome Dreamdark Blackbringer book, must get around to reading that again…

  • Laura
    February 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I have to pick just one? So many good ones in the comments already, Redwall, LOTR, Hogwarts, Howl’s Moving Castle.

    Hmm… The Abbey in Redwall is probably the first place I ever read that I wanted to be in. The Hobbit’s Shire was the second. 🙂

  • Melissa (Books and Things)
    February 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Oh there are so many… Picking one… I’d say Wonderland since it can surprise you at every turn. 🙂

  • John J.
    February 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    If I were to pick one place…so many choices.

    The entire world of Howl’s Moving Castle. Entire. World. Specifically Market Chipping and the actual Castle itself. Just so enchanting in every way possible. Eva Ibbotson’s books (Which Witch?…The Star of Kazan…) are a close second.

  • Allison
    February 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I pick either the University in Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind, or Hogwarts!

    I can’t wait to read this 🙂

  • katsie
    February 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Like many others, I love the Moving Castle belonging to that scalawag Howl and the land of Ingary in which it (sometimes) exists.

  • Gypsi
    February 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    The kingdom of Ingary from Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle. I would so love to live in that world, or any of her world’s, really! (Would have liked to have married Chrestomanci, too! :P)

  • Lisa
    February 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I would say one of my favorite settings is the Mistborn setting. I would love to see the falling ash and architecture!

  • Scribe Kira
    February 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I’d have to say my favorite is the world kirstein cashore’s (forgive me if i spelled her name wrong) two beautiful novels fire and graceling. highly recommended!!!=o)

  • Supe
    February 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I’d have to say the Arena, from the Hunger Games trilogy, in all its various incarnations throughout the series

  • Superfoxy
    February 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    The Arena, in all its various incarnations, from the Hunger Games trilogy.

  • Amanda Isabel
    February 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Awesome review! Thanks!

    As to what kind of atmosphere … I think I prefer the gritty and dark forests-and-castles of “A Game of Thrones” – it’s just so bretahtakingly real sounding, I still can’t get over it (And cannot wait for the miniseries) Thanks! 🙂

    apereiraorama[at]gmail[dot]com

  • Jamie
    February 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    My favorite books of all time also include some of my favorite atmospheric settings; His Dark Materials, by Phillip Pullman.

    From Lyra’s warm description of the both wild and strangely nostalgic Oxford and Jordan college, into the frigid and hostile North, through Cittagazze with its frightening invisible demons, the Specters, yet still a tropical sanctuary for the children, and through a dozen other worlds full of adventure and danger and the intimately familiar and the totally alien.

    I reread the books at least once a year, and every time I do I’m shocked by how eagerly my mind lets go of reality to drift through Pullman’s imaginative multiverse. It’s love, every time.

  • Breanne M.
    February 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    So hard to choose, but I agree with Hogwarts and Narnia.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    February 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I like Peter Pan and Neverland. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  • JenM
    February 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I’m a huge fan of Hogwarts. I just think it would be such a cool place to visit. I have to admit to looking around for Platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express the last time I was at King’s Cross station. I couldn’t help myself.

  • Kairisauru
    February 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    My favorite would have to be The Hobbit settings. The mountains and the dragon’s lair descriptions were so vivid that my imagination just took me to that place immediately.

    i luffs Tolkien <3

  • Ellie
    February 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    All of the Lord of the Rings settings are amazing!!! But if I have to choose only one… mmmmmmm, I think I’ll go whit Rivendel! ^^

    Love the elves! Loooooove them!!!! :mrgreen:

  • jennifer
    February 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    The cliff that Leck fell off of in Fire? You know that? Well that area is probably my favorit fantasy setting. =D

  • Lucia Hua
    February 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Harry Potter… Hogwarts! And Narnia. Of course, Narnia. It’s the whole point of the book. 🙂

  • Heather
    February 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    There are 2: Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the meadow from Twilight…

  • Em
    February 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    The (Forbidden) Greeny Jungle from Zahrah The Windseeker – amazing plants and creatures – love it.

  • Stephanie K.
    February 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I’d also have to say Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter series.

  • Ashley
    February 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I love pretty much all of His Dark Materials series. The descriptions of going North for Lyra are amazing.

  • Tiah
    February 17, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    The setting for Lord of the Rings is my favorite.

  • Marie B.
    February 17, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Not YA, but what comes first to mind is the world of Martin’s Song of Fire & Ice series. For Xmas I got a calendar that had artists’ renderings of all of the major castles/estates and I think it’s fantastic!

    Specifically YA, there was a book I loved as a kid called the Catsworld Portal by Shirley Rousseau Murphy; there was another world under our feet that always seemed very vivid to me. There were also shape-shifting cats, which were the primary focus of my adoration for the book! I haven’t read that book in ages, so I’m not sure it would hold up to a reading as an adult.

  • Mariska
    February 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    i’m not sure whether this book is include in YA categories ; Bibbi Bokkens magische Bibliothek by Jostein Gaarder.

  • Bethie
    February 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I would say the maze from The Maze Runner. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Cindy Noir
    February 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    I’m going to have say the wizarding world from Harry Potter also! JK Rowling just has a way with words and I can picture every place in my head so vividly. 🙂

  • Cindy Noir
    February 17, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    The wizarding world of Harry Potter, JK Rowling’s descriptions are so vivid. 🙂

  • Debbie
    February 17, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I don’t know if I can pick just one. Maybe two:
    Green Sky from Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Green Sky Trilogy (Below the Root, And All Between, and Until the Celebration); and the land from Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Price.

  • Katie W
    February 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    The Abhorsen’s House from Garth Nix’s Sabriel. So vivid and unique, yet also oddly familiar.

  • Courtney
    February 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I think the fairie world in the book Wings by Aprilynne Pike, was super magical and imaginative.

  • vvb
    February 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    i, too, go for hogwarts castle from the harry potter series. the room of requirement rocks! 😀

  • Amy C
    February 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    The mountains and forests Gen in The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner travel through. Very high fantasy but also more modern.

  • Love Daley
    February 18, 2011 at 3:27 am

    I am a hardcore reader and cant go a single day without reading. In simple words I am crazy about books. Whenever I feel an urge to read/buy a book, I simple call Justdial at 1800-500-0000. They help me find bookstores in my area as well as reading libraries. This service has been very helpful and effective.

  • Stephanie Tran
    February 18, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Boneshaker by Cherie Priest just pulled me into their gritty, steampunk world

  • debbie
    February 18, 2011 at 5:40 am

    I would have to say lord of the rings.
    twoofakind12@yahoo.com

  • Dana
    February 18, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Did somebody say old-school? I’d go for Fantastica from The Neverending Story. Or some of the locations at The Princess Bride (Zoo of Death..)

  • Shveta Thakrar
    February 18, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Either Cindy Pon’s China-inspired land in Silver Phoenix or the Otherworld in Wildwood Dancing.

    This book sounds great!

  • Lise
    February 18, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I think I have to say Narinia!
    from the very moment I read the lion, the witch and the wardrobe I was hoping such a place was real, and I spent some time making sure there was no passage to the magic land at the back of my own wardrobe! sadly, I never found one, but still the books and the movies make me so happy! 😀

  • Ellie
    February 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

    It’s a tie between Hogwarts and Howl’s Moving Castle.

  • Dovile
    February 18, 2011 at 9:42 am

    For me it’s Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series, especially because of the movies. I wish I could visit a place like that…

  • Bonnie
    February 18, 2011 at 10:53 am

    My favorite is the kingdom from One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

  • Tina
    February 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

    My favorite is the exotic land described in Mariellier’s Cybelle’s Secret.

  • Dominique
    February 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    My favourite setting… definitely has to be Fantastica from Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story.

    Go Falkor!!

  • Kate & Zena
    February 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    My favorite setting….oh, that’s hard. However, I’m going to go with the world of the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

  • natalie23
    February 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    It would have to be Narnia, where Lucy first arrives and Cair Paravel.

  • jen mitchel
    February 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    i’m bad at picking favorites, but the garden where will and lyra meet up once a year (his dark materials) is pretty atmospheric and fantastic.

    (graceling has some gorgeous scenes… the instant about halfway through where katsa looks up and really sees po… i think that moment and setting are just amazing. and i agree that hogwarts is so well realized and just has an incredible atmosphere).

    in the non-YA category, i just read nk jemisin’s two novels (the hundred thousand kingdoms and the broken kingdoms), and loved the settings and atmosphere. lush and evocative.

  • Patty
    February 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I think my favorite one is from Across The Universe…just the description of the ship.

  • danielle
    February 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I remember these caves from the Eragon series that I would doodle over and over again during class…
    Does the Mississippi from Huck Finn count?

  • Heather Z.
    February 18, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    So many… but I am going to have to agree. First thoughts run to the entire Old Kingdom from Garth Nix (best. library. ever.) and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series world. For Garth Nix, there is is just something unique and wholly wonderful about it being spring or summer while just across the wall you see it snowing. And the mist/ash of Brandon Sanderson’s world was completely enveloping, claustrophobic and comforting.

  • ikkinlala
    February 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Redwall and its surroundings, I think – they’re not my favourite YA fantasy books, but I do love the setting.

  • Karalynn Lee
    February 18, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Meredith Ann Pierce’s A Gathering of Gargoyles has a girl sailing across the blue sands of the Sea-of-Dust, which enchants me even years after reading about it. There’s even dust whales and dust shrimp, the latter of which actually ends up playing a key role in the story.

  • ritu
    February 18, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    My favorite is from Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones! I completed it in one sitting yesterday and it has now officially become my favorite setting 🙂

  • Laura
    February 19, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Everlost by Neal Shusterman. Creepy and gorgeous.

  • Melissa (My World...in words and pages)
    February 20, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Oh wow! Thank you so much for the chance to win this book! I have it on my WANT list and it sounds amazing. 🙂 I too enjoyed the first two books in here Lord of Griffin Mage series.

    Um, setting….

    Well, I hope it’s okay that I pick a movie. I have a hard time with picking books from time to time. But in a movie I think I would definitely pick Avatar. I fell in love with the world created there. 🙂 Very beautiful!

    Thank you!

    MyWorldinwordsandpages@gmail.com

  • jdfield
    June 19, 2011 at 5:42 am

    This book sounds to me as if it has quite a lot in common with the Earthsea archipelago of Ursula le Guin. Which is a good thing, as I love that. Straight on the list…

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