Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Book: Beneath the Sugar Sky
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #3
Publication: January 9, 2018

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests...

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts. 

Now this was quite the venture into Nonsense! Very entertaining, since so far in the series, we have only been exposed to worlds considered High Logic.

The premise of this book itself is nonsensical: Sumi's future daughter, who is from Confection (the world Sumi went to), time-travels back to the present day to figure a way somehow stop Sumi from doing something that makes Rini start to disappear in the future. Expect the "thing" that Sumi did to start all this was...get murdered. Yeah. So obviously, with Sumi having been murdered, of course Rini would start to disappear in the future. Which is why Rini leaps into the past before she disappears completely to figure out a way to stop it. Aka resurrect Sumi.

Compared to the other books, this book was absolutely absurd in a strange and fun way. Logical rules are broken (did you catch the whole future-child-disappearing-and-jumps-to-the-past-where-her-mom-has-been-murdered-and-tries-to-resurrect-her thing? Crazy!), world hopping happens, friends are visited, friends are left behind in other worlds, and absolutely nothing makes sense in Confection. But in its own, nonsensical way, it makes perfect logical sense that everything panned out that way.

Rini herself was very spontaneous in a lunatic, non-reality-conforming way. "Time doesn't work backwards? Make it work backwards. Things are disturbing? Why thank you, a complement" etc. Though, I'm going to admit this: the whole going back in time to save her mom thing? Yeah, it was very reminiscent of Sailor Moon. There's one arc in it where Sailor Moon's daughter (conveniently named "Rini" in the English dub) goes back in time to enlist the help of the Sailor Scouts to save her mom in the future. At another point in Sailor Moon, Rini also threatened with disappearing because her parents weren't going end up together. See any similarities? I have no idea if it's coincidental or not, but it's just something I noticed.

The concept of world-hopping is probably going to be a one-time occurrence; I suspect if it were to come up again, many of the kids at Eleanor's home would use it to try to go back to their home worlds. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Nancy reappeared, and that we got a slight epilogue to her story after the ending of the first book.

The characters that drew my attention the most (apart from Rini) was Christopher and Cora. I thought Christopher was a pretty neat character from the first book, as his world sounded quite fascinating (bones and skeletons!). We got more backstory into his situation and character, which I liked. Cora was a completely new character, the latest student at Eleanor's school. She was described as large, having struggled with weight and bullying all her life until she went to her world. I enjoyed the author's take on her struggles, and how she explained how people should not be judged based on their physical appearances, but by their actions, interests, and personalities. The two were quite interesting together, as Christoper viewed beauty as beneath the skin (the bones), which definitely resonated with Cora. As much as I might somewhat ship them, I more so want them to find their ways back to to their own worlds to be happy!

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