Akarnae – Lynette Noni

“For anyone brave enough to believe in the impossible. Embrace the wonder.”

These are the words that you soon will come to worship when reading the wonderful debut novel by Australian author Lynette Noni. When I first read this book, late 2017, I was constantly on the edge of my seat, my heart pounding with anticipation and adrenaline, eager to find out what was going to happen next. At times, there were also moments when I felt a tear prick at the corner of my eye and my heartstrings were being pulled. The book is filled with such amazing characters and unique situations that make you wish they were real, though, once that last page has been turned, you’re hit with the disappointment that they are sadly not.

What I loved.

One thing about this book that I absolutely adored was the fact that is was so light and refreshing compared to the books I usually read. Sure, there were moments in the book that were a little rough and hard hitting, but all in all, it just goes to show how each person, authors included, are different. Another thing I enjoyed about this book were the characters. Each was well written and thought out, all had their own flaws and strengths, all had their own demons to face and we were able to see how in even the most unforeseeable circumstances, friendship can prevail.

What I hated.

Now, shockingly enough, there weren’t many things about this book that I actually hated. One thing that irked me slightly was the reaction the main character had to being in a foreign land. If it were me, I would have been freaking the truck out. Sure, she had her moments when she was overwhelmed with the information she was being given, but it was mostly the initial reaction that got to me.

My favourite Characters.

Alexandra Jennings – Main Character.Now, it’s not just because she is the main character in all of this, it’s mainly because of the absolutely hilarious and relatable moments she has. Alex is the kind of character, that regardless of the situation, you can relate to. From being a cheeky daughter to her parents, to a self-sacrificing friend, she is ultimately the perfect character. A few of my favourite scenes are when she is first getting to know everyone in her new world. First, her encounter with Aven. When Alex first arrives in Medora, more specifically the Ezera Forest, she is greeted by “the most staggeringly attractive man she had ever laid eyes on.” For me, my first impression was my mind screaming “sleaze” at me. This is something that after a while, she comes to realize for herself. Time passes for Alex, with her slowly adjusting to Akarnae life, and one of my next favourite moments for Alex is in one of her Combat classes. Karter, who had benched Alex for quite some time, called on her and asked her what she had learned. She hadn’t really clicked on to what he wanted at first but when she did, she didn’t hesitate to rip her combat classmates to shreds, commenting on their techniques and the flaws they had when it came to offence and defence. Also, Alex vs Dillyberry juice. Imagine someone who when drunk, they are an overly affectionate and giggly person. That’s Alex on Dillyberry Juice. All in all for me, Alex is a wonderful character, and I almost pity the poor girl for everything she has to go through.
Alex Moments: In her excitement, she failed to pay attention to her surroundings, and at the entrance to the dining room, she tripped over one of Evie’s dolls, tumbled forwards, and landed face-first on the solid wood with a loud ‘Oomph!” Alex rolled onto her back, completely dazed, and groaned with humiliation. Her timid voice echoed in the now silent room as she asked, “I don’t suppose we can act like that didn’t happen?” Her question broke the gaping silence, and suddenly, everyone was laughing.

Bear and Jordan – The Bromance you just can’t split up.Now, I know these guys count as two characters, but who in their right mind would split these boys up? Not me. Hence why they are taking second place in my top three. The first moment we meet the boys is during Alex’s first few moments in Medora. After introducing themselves and showing off just a little, Jordan demonstrating his transcendence gift and revealing himself to be the exceptionally cheeky one, and Bear, the one who was more or less a tamed and less troublesome version of Jordan, who laughably almost convinced Alex to eat dirt, the three of them somehow clicked and became fast friends. The two boys, who later reveal that they consider Alex somewhat a younger sister, are exceptionally protective and loyal. Something that goes to show throughout the entire book. Regardless of the secrets each of the boys hide, Jordan more so then Bear, we easily fall in love with them more. Another reason to love these guys is the fact that they are willing to take things slow for Alex, helping her adjust to the new world and the different classes she takes, though, at times, we can all have a slight chuckle over some of the ‘Freyan” things Alex says that go right over the boys’ heads. However, we soon see just how loyal Bear and Jordan are to each other, especially when it comes to helping a certain someone get out of detention with a lunatic. Once the final page has been turned, you look back at these two and realize that they are the biggest sweethearts and the bestest of friends Alex could have hoped for during her time at Akarnae.
Bear Moments:Alex: “What can you do Bear?”Bear: “I’m a Charmer,”Alex: “I’m sure you say that to all the girls.”
Jordan Moments:Jordan: “No sweat babe.”Alex: “Don’t call me that or I’ll tell Sir Camden that you called him a can opener and challenged him to a duel.”

First read vs second read.

The first time I read this book, I devoured it within hours. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, wanting to know what happened next. With each new detail that was revealed, I got sucked in more and more. However on the second read, I was able to relax and take my time with it, knowing all the major things that were going to happen, yet I was able to pick up on some smaller details that I skimmed over the first time around. Both times though, I immensely enjoyed this book.

Other moments.

+ Alex’s first glimpse of Medora, ‘A small forest clearing. Sunlight streamed through the canopy of evergreens and their shadows dappled the mottle-coloured forest floor.’ From then she is somehow catapulted through the air and deposited in the Ezera Forest.

+ Another small detail I rather liked was the school’s motto, ‘Kailas en freydell. Vayla en karsis. Leali en nexar.’ Which roughly translates to ‘Strength in weakness. Victory in surrender. Life in death.”

The vast contrasts in the three main families we meet in the books, Alex’s mum and dad, Jordans parents, and Bears family.

+ Alex’s family, a loving small family of three. Mom and dad are archaeologists who travel around the world for work and have just left Alex at a new school so they can go for a once in a lifetime work opportunity, which is understandable, however the fact that they are unreachable takes a slight emotional toll on Alex.

+ Jordan’s family, well, they are pretty much the stuck up, snobbish kind of people that make your skin crawl, and it makes you wonder how Jordan ended up like he did. Even with the death of his brother and his neglecting parents who only play nice when they want something from him, Jordan somehow manages to be a bright, sarcastic guy who is loyal to fault. + Bears family. Now, for some reason, the best comparison I can come up with is the Weasley family from Harry Potter. They are a warm and loving family, who welcome anyone and everyone who need someone. And I think, that this is, in a way, what has helped shape Jordan, seeing as he has been visiting this family for 3 years on holidays.

Audience.In my mind, I can easily see this book being perfect for the ages 14 and up.
Rating.Without a doubt or any hesitation I can give this 5/5.

Photo Credit @telle.reads on Instagram

“And that’s why you’re not only Called, but also Chosen, because you’ll continue to walk through the doors, no matter where they lead.”

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