** Copy of Steal the Sky by Megan E. O’Keefe gloriously given by Agent Sam Morgan of Jabberwocky Literary Agency in exchange for an honest review**
I did this book the greatest disservice I think you can do to a book: start it right in the middle of the holidays.
I began reading Steal the Sky on December 12th, 2016 (thanks go to Goodreads for the stats). I finished it on January 13th, 2017 (curses go to Goodreads for that realization). Sure, a month isn’t really a long time to finish a book. Especially when you add in going home for Christmas plus New Years, trying to balance two jobs and getting a PS4 for Christmas and rapidly playing catch-up on all of your favorite games. But for me, a month, no matter if it is December or May, is a really long time to finish a book.
Especially a book of this caliber.
I can think of two main elements that made this book positively fantastic; made it to where I actually read a solid 250+ pages last weekend, thus proving how quickly I could have (and should have) devoured it, had I not given in to other delights; made it to where I just stalked O’Keefe’s website AND SAW THE SECOND BOOK IS ALREADY OUT AND I’M TRYING NOT TO HAVE AN AUDIBLE FREAK OUT MOMENT BECAUSE I’M WORKING AT A LIBRARY AND WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE QUIET HERE.
The first aspect that clued me into knowing I was going to fall in love with this book was not just the characters themselves–which, honestly, would still be enough–but their interactions with one another. Detan and Tibs deserve to see their friendship portrayed on screen, simply so I can listen to their witty banter and see their hilarious facial-expression-exchanges somewhere else besides my head. They had me laughing from the start, pulled at my heartstrings on numerous occasions and from the very first page, felt so utterly natural; so real. Add in New Chum,
Ripka Watch Captain (oh, I could write pages upon pages about the badassery and favoritism I feel towards Ripka Watch Captain), the dopple and the slew of other characters that you interact with in this creative, unique steampunk universe and my friend, you will be hooked. So utterly hooked.
Yet that wasn’t even my favorite aspect of the book.
I know, right? How could I fall so in love with the characters, be so drawn into their relationships, be utterly convinced at their reality that my own moods were affected by what they were going through (particularly on the Black), and yet that isn’t my favorite aspect of the book? What could possibly top that?
The details, friends. The details.
I grew up on Tolkien, so there isn’t any surprise that I have a fondness for details (but details that matter, details that entice and excite me, unlike the pages of details I’ve been forced to suffer through in works by authors like Steinbeck). O’Keefe’s work was special to me because I was constantly noticing the details, but not in an overbearing way. And in noticing them and being impressed with not only how they were written, but also what they were describing and how in-scene they brought me, I found myself craving more. I wanted paragraphs, page upon page, of detail. But, like I said, we weren’t onslaughted with description and backstory and the inner workings of the mind. They were sprinkled in, expertly woven into the narrative to the point that you can’t imagine reading this story without them.
Personally, I feel like that mastery–and risk–over detail is a lost art.
Technology has forced us to live life fast-paced, expecting everything instantly, where we just want to go, go, go. In talking with a lot of readers, I’ve found that many don’t appreciate a solid paragraph or page of description like readers once did. In turn, I think authors and their books run the risk of choosing to cut those details or hell, not even writing them in the first place, trying to appease the shortened attention spans and increased need to keep moving without pause of modern day readers.
Yet not O’Keefe. Not Steal the Sky. We get into the nitty-gritty of the world. We are given the extra details. We are allowed to pause and soak it all in–and with so many elements incorporated into this novel, there is plenty to soak in; plenty that deserves our pause and attention. And though I can never know if O’Keefe was purposeful in how she used detail in her novel, if there was any ulterior motive in being a more descriptive writer (in my opinion) or if she just writes this brilliantly naturally, I am so thankful for it. I am so thankful for the reminder that detail can be incorporated and it can be enjoyed and written in ways that make you smile, nod your head or cringe.
Detail is the biggest reason why I would label Steal the Sky as utterly refreshing.
Notice how I gave you no examples of what I was talking about above? No witty banter exchanges between Detan and Tibs? No paragraph showing exactly what I mean by expertly inserted and gloriously refreshing detail? I can’t know O’Keefe’s inspiration or process (but damn if I wouldn’t love to find out), but I do know my own and I’m not afraid to admit that I purposefully left any examples out, upping your curiosity and causing an itch for you to know exactly what I’m talking about; an itch that can only be sated by procuring a copy of Steal the Sky yourself. If my not-so-cleverly-disguised-or-executed tactic didn’t work, then you should just take my word for it and hop on down to the library. This is a writer–and a series–you are not going to want to miss.
PS: Biggest missed opportunity of the year last year? O’Keefe was at WorldCon last year and I distinctly remember seeing her standing across from me in this epic writers circle I’m still baffled that I somehow was standing in the shadows of…and I didn’t say hello. I’m still pissed at myself for it, especially now that I’ve read her work and just want to nerd out/fangirl with her about it. UGH.