I'm so thrilled to be a part of Becci Murray's Book Tour for her amazing new book - Azalea Fern and the Last Ruin of the Extinct. It's been a while since I've read something so unique and special. I cannot recommend it enough! Read on to find out more about the book and why you should be adding this to your reading list!
If your ma tells you, 'Stay out of the ruin,' would you listen? Would you be able to curb your curiosity, knowing it's forbidden and dangerous? Azalea Fern certainly couldn't, and her fierce curiosity got her into many unexpected situations, finding buried secrets and truths others had been hiding.
Here's the official synopsis:
"A new world. An ancient secret. Can Azalea unravel the mysteries of the past to save the future of her people?
Azalea Fern is fiercely curious, and in a world of giant buttermoths and crystal waters, there’s plenty to see. So why does she long to explore the one place she’s forbidden to go?
Perhaps it’s because the mechanicary house is old and creepy. Perhaps it’s because the crumbling bricks are the last relic of an extinct species. Or perhaps it’s because her ma said, ‘Stay out of the ruin.’ Whatever the reason, Azalea is about to dig-up an ancient secret that could shatter her perfect world forever.
Dive head-first into book one of a new fantasy series for ages 9+ and discover the breath-taking world of Azalea Fern."
Without giving too much of the story away (and also because it's such a complex and complicated story, I don't think I could accurately summarise it), I will highlight some of the things that really impressed me and brought this story to life. You really have to read it for yourself!
Characters and Names
There are a lot of different characters in this story and it was a little hard in the beginning to keep up with their storylines and how they connect to one another. But as you read on, things become clearer and more details are revealed. I definitely plan on reading it again to get a better understanding of all the characters and their motivations. I'm sure there are parts I missed and didn't get the first time.
The heroine, Azalea Fern, is such a strong female role model. I love that she isn't afraid to challenge the norms and seeks out the truth despite being told not to. Even though she appears to be a little defiant in the beginning and doesn't listen to her mother about staying out of the ruin, she has a pure and kind heart and is determined to do the right thing for her species. Sometimes, we need to break some rules to do the right thing.
I am in love with the names of characters of the Homotium species, being named after various plant life. Ceanotha Vine is probably one of my favourites, even though I had no idea how it was pronounced and I had to ask Becci about it! (It's 'see-uh-no-thu', by the way!) She also informed me that the name derived from 'Ceanothus', a flower, but Becci thought that 'made her sound like Roman centurion'. I immediately Googled it and saw images of a beautiful purple flower (my favourite colour, by the way)! It's a kind of evergreen shrub, also known as California lilacs. After doing a search on Ceanothus, I decided to look up the others, starting with Fern, then Moss, and was fascinated by their descriptions and characteristics. This alone could be a whole unit plan with cross-curricular activities in science. Students could do their own research study on each plant and turn it into a whole project. The teacher in me is already getting excited! Oh, the possibilities this book could bring into the classroom!
Another thing I love are the Homotium terms and expressions, which make readers feel like they are living among this mysterious species. It also shows a contrast from the Sapien language. Some examples: 'lightness' for day; 'darkness' for night. Later on in the book, the Sapien terms are introduced in bold and we see the two species learning how to communicate with each other.
One of things I love about Becci and her books is a sense of humour and her ability to make you laugh, even in some serious situations. Although this is a rather serious book compared to her other works, there are still moments that bring a smile to your face. I especially loved these expressions, 'Fields save us,' 'For field's sake!' not to mention descriptions like 'A GRASS-HOG'S BUM' and 'A BAD CASE OF SWAMP-FUNGUS!'
A Reflection of Our Current World (minor spoiler alert)
This story has so many layers, and even though it is set in a fantasy, dystopian world, it's a reflection of our current world and what humans have done over the years that have changed and caused harm to our environment. When the word 'pollution' came up in bold as it was being introduced to Azalea, it not only sent a chill down her neck, it did it to me too. "It came from the Sapien mechanicaries and buildings. It killed the harvests and poisoned the ocean, until the world became a place to survive, not to live." This part almost made me tear up because it is truly sad how our human race is slowly and steadily destroying our own world. Not only that, we even start 'wars' and fight our own species for survival because we had spoiled everything we had. It's a dystopian fantasy that could become our future reality if we continue on like this. I can see this leading to many classroom discussions about social, environmental and political issues.
When I first started reading this book, I had no idea what it was about or what to expect. However, I felt instantly transported into this whole new world Becci had created and it didn't matter whether I understood everything that was going on, I just wanted to keep reading! The writing draws you in and the suspense holds up throughout the whole book. Each chapter leaves you wanting to read just a little bit more. It's unlike anything I've ever read. This was so different and intriguing but actually felt so real. I thoroughly enjoyed it and there was never a dull moment in the book.
I'm completely in awe of Becci's writing and the way she expertly and beautifully combined so many intricate details and elements together into this book, pulling you right into this new world. I'm blown away! And this is just the first book in the series! I can't wait for next instalment! I can even see this becoming a film that will leave fans begging for more!
As a relatively new indie and unknown author myself, I did not expect to meet so many talented indie authors out there. There is something so special and unique in every story and every author. Becci is definitely an author to watch and I highly recommend and urge everyone to check out her books. This book needs to be in every bookstore and library so more readers can discover this new world!
To conclude, I want to leave you all with this powerfully poignant quote from Azalea:
"There won't be peace until we stop being afraid of each other. There'll be no unity until we're all equal. And life won't be fair until we all have a voice, no matter how big or small our communities."
How true it is! We complain about not having world peace, yet we do not consider each other equal and deserving of the same rights and resources. When will we come to our senses?
Azalea Fern can teach children — and even adults — so many important life lessons.
Don't hesitate or wait any longer, and grab your copy of Azalea Fern and the Last Ruin of the Extinct NOW!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about this amazing book (and I hope I have done this book justice with my review)!
Thank you again to Becci Murray, for sending me a copy of her wonderful book from the UK all the way to Hong Kong! And I will be reading it again very soon!
I'm also very thrilled that Becci agreed to participate in my Author Interview series, so head over to check out the post now to learn more about Becci and how her brain works!