Title: El and Onine (2015)
Author: K. P. Ambroziak
Extent: 180 pages
Review: In a world where the earth has been taken over by ‘aliens’, El is a sapient and Onine is a Venusian. Bound by the physicality of their bodies and the universe that they come from, any form of physical contact means a fiery death to both of them. Yet something draws them closer together… and when El is selected as the other half in an interspecies union, Onine must save her before it’s too late.
First off, let me just say that I am completely, completely in love with the setting of El and Onine. Ambroziak drew a very intricate, very detailed picture of the landscape, and it’s really quite wonderful to re-imagine society if it were to be broken down and then created again, this time by a species that’s not exactly human and doesn’t possess human logic. She also used different, alien-sounding words to describe human concepts, which helps me immerse myself deep into the setting and imagine it like I’m there. That’s not something every author can do, and it’s wonderful to see a fantasy novel that’s not bound by cliches.
However, I feel like it comes at the expense of character/relationship development. There is not enough for me to understand why El and Onine love each other except for their history, which isn’t also clearly elaborated on. There are other characters too whose story I’d like to hear (even) more about: Tal, Em, Minosh, to name a few.
Plot-wise, I don’t think that alternating perspectives is the best way to tell this story, especially when they’re alternating perspectives of the same events. There’s some overlap between El’s and Onine’s parts, which makes the reading slightly redundant at times. I also wish we went deeper into the setting and how it came to be this way, because that is certainly one of the strongest points of the story.
That being said, Ambroziak is a good writer, and there are some really beautiful, elegant descriptions in this story. As a fantasy novel, El and Onine takes the readers on a journey into a completely different world. The ‘otherness’ in this book is real, and readers who enjoy reading about unique, original worlds will love the tale that Ambroziak weaves.
*** I received a copy of El and Onine from the author in exchange for a honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book.