The Seventh Sun by Lani Forbes
Okay, I saw Lani Forbes in person and she seemed really cute and also isn’t really a big author so I can’t be mean yet.
So, this book started out iffy and then got a lot better for me. My favorite part, probably objectively the best part, was the conflict. That might come as a shock, considering how hard this book sold the romance.
If you haven’t read the back cover, let me inform you that the blurbs are basically, “The romance is so steamy!” “I’m hooked on the romance!” “Get me a piece of that hunky prince!” “I literally left my husband because this book made me feel more than my marriage ever did!”
Joking, joking. And don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the romance. It was well-written, but I think I wanted more, especially more emotional connection balancing out tha omnipotent physical connection. Still, the conflict that I love existed because of the romance, so I’ve got to give it that.
The conflict was so gratifying because Mayana got herself into a frustrating situation that felt genuinely unsolvable…but it didn’t make me pull my hair out because I couldn’t stand the tension. I didn’t think Mayana was ~really~ at fault either. In the end, it’s the conflict that drives the plot, obviously, that’s what makes a page turner. And once I got into it, I didn’t want to put this book down. I couldn’t sleep because I wanted to be reading instead. And, honestly, I’ve read so many books that this almost never happens anymore. I’m a college student. I’m an Editing and Publishing college student. Do you know how hard it is to pique my interest these days?
But the conflict for Mayana is pretty internal, which brings me to Mayana as a character. And honestly…I needed more development. If Lani’s reading this I’m soooooorry. I relate to Mayana a lot, but in the end her flaw is basically that she’s too empathetic and is…right about a controversial religious topic. She even stops herself from feeling justified anger by looking at the other person’s point of view. 10/10 I don’t feel inferior to this character at all.
To add insult to injury, Ahkin kind of has the same traits except he isn’t 100% on our side about human sacrifice. At the same time that Mayana feels kind of typical to me, the book is touting her as a superhero and so strong for her empathy. But I don’t think she uses her empathy to help others as often as she should. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge believer that empathy is always a superpower. But I’m also a huge believer in realistic characters.
Part of the reason Mayana’s righteousness with her religious beliefs rubbed me the wrong way is because I’m so religious. There were little paragraphs here and there that felt eerily like religious arguments I’d heard before, or would even say. It just didn’t feel natural. The book really did feel like the author’s own religious journey and a fantasy resolution to her internal struggle. And I HATE saying that, because I enjoyed the book and am so proud of Forbes for including spirituality in a world that kinds of shuns it.
<spoiler> Really, my anger stems almost wholeheartedly from the fact that she was right in the end. I can’t even TELL you how disappointed I was that she didn’t have to undergo any character development.</spoiler>
Moving on, moving on to more positive things…I liked the bloodletting form of magic and its intersection with the aforementioned religion. Tres cool. It sketches me out when somebody writes about a displaced people, but it seems like Forbes really did her research on the culture. The worldbuilding was really cool; it was a unique idea, and it felt pretty realistic and engrossing. I liked that the book had real lore. Not a lot of criticism there, surprisingly, considering I always go to off on worldbuilding.
When I got to the end of the book, I was disappointed that this wasn’t a one-off. I think it could have worked as a one-off. I’m anxious to see the next one, because it sounds like suddenly the lore that was fun and peripheral will be front and center…which means that the romance, which felt like the focus on this book…won’t be the focus of the book anymore. I’m nervous to see how it will work, but I’m also looking forward to it. I intend to read this book when the next one comes out. I promise. Someone remind me. Even if I have to reread this one. I WANT TO READ THE NEXT ONE.
A lot of these criticisms weren’t dealbreakers at all. If there’s one thing that I would want, and expect, to be better in the second book, it would be the language. Forbes grew as a writer even over the course of the book. But initially, it read like some early drafts I’d written, where the word choice was just slightly off here and there or the transition into description wasn’t seamless (though I’ve got to say that description can be hard to pull off and it was really good!) . All constructive criticism, though. It’s a 3.5! That’s a good ranking! Please don’t think I’m mean. I’m not mean. It was a good book. Just read it. Support a rising author. Learn about early Central American culture. Leave your husband for a fictional character. Idk.
(please don’t do that last one xx)