2 out of 4 stars
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Eltad, the home of the village Senagatt, is an island in the sky surrounded by waterfalls. In S, the sun never ceases to shine; there is no distinction between days. Alena is perfectly happy to spend the rest of her life painting the immutable sun. She and the rest of the villagers live a blissful life full of kindness and harmony. That all changes when Notch, a blind woman from another world, arrives, bewildered and aggressive, searching for someone. Her arrival threatens Eltad in ways that no one could have foreseen.
Notch is searching for Tadel, the Spirit of the Lake, who she believes can help her fix something from her past. Alena's fear of change battles with her curiosity about Eltad and its place among other worlds. Her curiosity wins out, leading her to join Notch in her quest, against her better judgment.
Delta: In the Middle of the Lake is a YA fantasy novel written by Nike Izymaylov and Michelle Izmaylov. This coming-of-age story focuses on themes such as accepting responsibility, growth, friendship, the subjectiveness of memories, and self-acceptance. The overall message of the book is that the only way to move forward in life is to confront your past, no matter how difficult it might be.
The narrative switches between the viewpoints of Alena and Notch. It's clearly labeled each time the viewpoint changes. The character voices are very distinctive from one another, which is probably because Notch was written by Nike, and Alena was written by Michelle. I greatly enjoyed reading how they each took in the world around them. Alena, being an artist, emphasizes the visuals and focuses on colors. While Notch, being blind, focuses on the other senses. Notch's observations are full of unique metaphors and similes that remind me of F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing. Voices are described as "high and firm, like the crack of fresh lettuce" or "the politeness in her timbre slightly edged, like fresh-carved wood sandpapered but not yet sealed."
During the many fighting sequences, there is rarely, if ever, an entire sentence. Instead, there are long paragraphs full of incomplete sentences that were difficult to follow and even more difficult to envision. Meaningful dialogue is sacrificed in exchange for lengthy descriptions of the setting amidst choppy action sequences.
Alena, who is supposed to be the guide, has a lot of trouble staying focused. While this is clearly a character quirk, her ramblings seem as if they're there only to take up space. Notch typically only speaks with purpose, but she can be very difficult to understand. While the way she speaks is distinctive, her dialogue is full of words like "Hn" and incomplete sentences. It can take several sentences (and pauses) for her to get her point across. If this only happened when she was trying to say something that was difficult for her to say, I'd be totally on board. Sadly, that's not the case.
The book relies too heavily on telling instead of showing. However, the characterization of Notch and Alena is done very well. They have strengths and flaws, and they both experience individual growth throughout the novel. There aren't many secondary characters, and their brief appearances don't leave room for much development.
I give this book 2 out of 4 stars. I think that the premise is really promising, but the book could use a developmental editor to help the authors find a good balance between exposition and narrative. Secondly, it also needs a copy editor to clean up all of the numerous grammar and spelling errors. For instance, Alena must have been called "Aleta" in an earlier draft as there are several instances where "Aleta" is used. After these kinds of revisions, I think this could be a great book. I would recommend this to people who like YA books, the arts, and enjoy reading adventure books about female friendships. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who dislikes a lot of exposition.
Delta: In the Middle of the Lake
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