Ewing, Amy. The Cerulean. HarperTeen, 2019. 483p. ISBN: 9780062489982. $17.99 MS **
The Cerulean tells the story of Sera Lighthaven, a teenaged girl who lives in the City Above the Clouds, a magical city in space that draws sustenance from the planet below via a magical tether. Sera is spirited and full of questions, a bit of an oddity in her world where the women and girls (there are no men) live an idyllic life of peace and tranquility. When Sera is chosen to sacrifice herself for the well-being of her city something goes wrong and she ends up alive and captive on the planet below. The world she finds there is very different from her own: conservative, male-dominated, and intent on exploiting her. Sera struggles to make sense of what happened to her and to find a way to return to her city.
There are a number of things to like about this book. The female characters are strong and independent, even the one who is constrained by the conservative gender roles of her planet. Some elements of the world-building are creative and original; we encounter sentient species that are distinctly non-human and these characters have depth and agency. However, there are a number of aspects that didn’t work well for this reviewer. Many elements of the world-building felt trite. Sera’s idyllic world is ruled by a seemingly benevolent leader who turns out to harbor dark secretsb the shallow, self-centered young man who captures Sera is transformed into a kind, generous soul after his exposure to Sera’s magic, Sera’s magic itself turns out to be far more powerful than she originally thought – all she had to do was think about what she wanted her magic to do and it worked! This book would likely be popular with fans of the author’s other work, and would be an acceptable recommendation for a younger reader who hasn’t had much exposure to this kind of fantasy, but there are so many better fantasy books with strong female protagonists to choose from!
Marie Richardson, Mountain View Public Library