Thursday, September 7, 2017

Book Review: The Sandcastle Empire

TITLE: The Sandcastle Empire
AUTHOR: Kayla Olson
PUBLISHED: June 6th, 2017
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: A group of girls from different backgrounds escape their hellish prison to a mysterious island that is supposed to be a safe haven...
MY REVIEW: Oh this book...I have so many issues with this book I honestly don't know where to begin. I'm sad about it too, because if I could base my score on the author's writing style: four stars. The prose here are great. Unfortunately everything else from the plot, to the characters, to the pacing, and honestly just to what even the author was trying to say with this dystopian....needed a LOT of work.
This started out very promising. The first hundred or so pages are wild ride and we get to see four girls grouping together and being badass. Then it all just falls apart when the author brings in the world-building, brings in the main plot and just ugh. First she felt the need to do what I call the Disney Channel thing: have as many guys for as many girls and pair all of them up regardless of if there's actually any chemistry there (there isn't chemistry, FYI). The characters are all stock characters who are never go beyond their main purpose in the plot. Oh and diversity in this book is pretty much non-existent. Everyone is apparently straight in the future. There is one token Asian character who is treated like crap by the narrative.
But the real kicker for me is the dystopian set up. Essentially, this is a world where poor people decided to take over and throw all rich people into prison. That's right: it's a "stop being mean to rich people!" pearl-clutch.  The author basically tries to use this book as a cautionary tale to talk about privilege politics, but she very clearly has done no research on even what privilege is.
She seems to think privilege just refers to rich people. It doesn't. Everyone has some sort of privilege. I'm poor as dirt, but I still have privilege of some sort because I'm white. She also seems to do that thing that a lot of privileged people do, which is assume calling out privilege means we hate privileged people. WE DO NOT. I cannot emphasize this enough. No one hates you, okay? Seriously, get over yourselves. All people are doing when they point out your privilege, is saying you have an advantage over someone. Therefore, your experiences are more then a little skewed. So maybe stop trying to tell poor people that they're just being lazy or whatever and maybe just LISTEN to them when they tell you there's an issue with the system. I do not care if you grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth. I DO care if you use that silver spoon to deny that there are serious issues in the world right now.
This just bugs me so much. It had so much potential, but the author wasted it with poor research and poor world-building/characters/pacing/and many other things. It was just a disappointment all over. It's a shame, because Olson again has great prose. She just needs to work on...pretty much everything else.
WHO SHOULD READ: Eh...those who don't mind bland and poorly thought out dystopians?
MY RATING: Two out of Five sad sighs

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