My brother looked around the rainforest as if the trees were listening.
“Last night I heard the Kahuna (holy priest, sorcerer, magician, or wizard) speaking to the elders about an abandoned temple. Haunted by spirits, the lost soul of an ancient king.”
“Father will not be happy,” I said, self-consciously aware that I sounded like a tattletale.
Nahoa smiled. “Well, Father’s not here, is he, little brother?”
A young adult fantasy novel set in what will be Hawaii, 500 years ago? Say no more my friend, I am intrigued.
SURFER. SHARK TAMER. FIRE WALKER. EXPLORER. TEENAGER HERO
Five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic. When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise. As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt-just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki’s spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? ONLY ONE CAN RULE.
I have never read a book that has a Hawaiian / tropical setting before, and that was the main reason I was interested in reading this one! I thought the setting was wonderfully unique; it had all the right tropical vibes, the Hawaiian words and influences, the animals, the waves, all of it. I think you tell the author has a passion for the ocean while reading, especially when precious pages of a relatively short book were dedicated to surfing scenes and describing the waves and ocean animals. Were they necessary to the plot? Not particularly, no. But, they were still fun to read.
While I loved the setting, my favorite aspect of Kingdom of Oceana was the Hawaiian myths and folklore woven into the story. There was just the right amount of magic to make the book feel mythical without absurdity. I loved the concept of a spirit animal, and basically taking spiritual journeys to discover what that animal is; I only wish there was more that came from that particular story line. Prince Ailani discovers his spirit animal, and is ashamed of it. Then, his family proceeds to be complete jerks to him because of it (more on that in a minute) but there is never a conclusion to that plot line. Does Ailani come to terms with his spirit animal? Does he discover that its immensely stronger than he originally gave it credit for? I would like to know.
I understand that family troubles make for good and interesting plots, but personally, I am not a fan. This is a personal preference and one of the reasons why I didn’t rate the book higher, but I don’t, by a long shot, expect everyone to agree with my on this. Ailani and Nahoa’s relationship had completely drained me by the end of the book. There was so much sibling rivalry and I spent a lot of the book feeling sorry for Ailani, then consequently frustrated with him for not standing up for himself. His mother played favorites with Nahoa for no explained reason, and his brother was an insensitive jerk simply because he was older? If they were competing for the throne of their island and being named their father’s successor, I could understand the rivalry a bit more. But as it stands, Naoha was just a giant bully, and Ailani was a door mat when it came to him.
Overall though, my main issue with the book was that the writing felt inconsistent. There were some parts of the story that I felt myself sinking into with imaginative and beautiful descriptions of Oceana, but then a page later I was almost struck dumb with how juvenile the book would read. This book was pitched to me as a young adult fantasy novel, and I don’t necessarily think I can agree with that. I definitely got some Percy Jackson, early year Harry Potter vibes, which is awesome – if that’s what you are expecting and looking for.
At the end of the day, Kingdom of Oceana was a fun and quick read that was atmospheric and mythical at its best, and a bit rushed and juvenile at its worst. Still, if you are looking for a book with a setting that hasn’t been done 100 times before, definitely check this one out!
Please note I did receive this book from Book Publicity Services, representing the author, in exchange for this review, but all opinions are entirely my own.
check out the website for Kingdom of Oceana HERE!