One morning, I woke up to a lovely email from Netgalley that said my first wish had been granted. I had a mini-celebration with myself because luck had finally struck me! It was a rather groggy celebration since I had just woken up and I might have curled back to sleep afterwards, but still it was a momentous occasion for me. I was really looking forward to this one because it is written by a Latina author and it has elements of magical realism which I don’t get quite often!
All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry
Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.
When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.
*I was provided a free digital ARC from Netgalley and the publisher!*
Just look at that cover! *Swoons.* It’s absolutely gorgeous and the colours and silhouettes totally encompass this book perfectly. But I’m not here to solely critique the cover and as much as I want to say that the cover and the story go hand in hand as one blend of total epicness…I can’t. This book was good, don’t get me wrong, it just lacked that final oomph. It fell flat to me in some areas, but there was never a moment where I didn’t want to continue reading. It’s kind of complicated, me and this book.
What I Liked
Sarah Jac: Okay, Sarah Jac and I have a bit of a bumpy relationship. On one hand I’m like “Yes, go girl! You do you. It’s a game of survival be prepared for anything!” On the other hand I’m like “No stop. You’re being stupid. No. No. Please, stop. Think girl. Think!” She was a very complicated gal, in a very complicated situation. She had to act tough, be ruthless, think about no one but herself and James, but having hard hearts leads to big trouble in many ways as having a soft heart does. She wasn’t exactly the most “likeable” character but she was and interesting one at that!
James: Well..I liked him in the first half of the novel. He seemed like the endless flirt who just wanted everyone to feel good. To be even just a little content in time of hardship. Then the second half of the novel came and my feelings changed. He wasn’t very present in the novel but his actions are known, acknowledged and not appreciated by me!
Leo: I wish there was more of him in this book because he was a really funny and charismatic person. He fades off into the background about halfway through but for *reasons* so I guess it’s okay.
Bell: What a fun creature she was, indeed.
Other characters…there were plenty other characters like the ranch owners, the other maguey laborers and foremen but none of them took a prominent position. They did however make a big impact on Sarah Jac and her journey, Bell being the biggest factor of them all.
Atmosphere: The best aspect of this book is the atmosphere, the setting and descriptions. Just beautiful. You really get the sense of the hot desert sand, the blazing sun, the relentless heat that is beating on our characters day in and day out. Mabry does a superb job creating the atmosphere and the tension of the characters nerves, motives and actions. Very well done.
Magic Realism: So I may not be an expert or know the exact definition of what magical realism is, but I’m 100% sure this book has it. And it was beautiful. The use of magic to makes the reader understand the desperation of Sarah Jac. Her experience working in these fields and the memories from her past that plague her. I enjoyed the use of magic to explain the going-ons in Sarah’s head and her emotions. It just added to the beauty of the story and I really enjoyed it.
Though I do propose a question: What does the YA world have against bees??? This is the second book I’ve read that uses bees as a source of corruption and death…like hello? Did no one ever watch The Bee Movie, our little friends deserve justice!
Romance: Stress. So you go in with a pre-made ship you don’t have to worry about all that tension, right? No. This ship had its problems in the beginning, but I was okay with it. That’s what couples have to do, work through their problems. Survive against the toughest of circumstances. Still. *Rendz, why is this under the liked stuff if you didn’t really like it?* The drama, obviously! I lived for it and it’s one of the few things that kept me well entertained.
What I Disliked
It could be slooooww: It got boring really fast and I just couldn’t keep myself glued to the pages long enough. I would have no motivation to pick it up because I knew that I was going to have to endure endless pages of Sarah Jac in her head, just thinking. That’s not to say that all her thoughts were boring, it’s just that sometimes things got repetitive and I wasn’t into it.
I was also a little confused about the time period! Was it set in the old west or in some twisted dystopia based on that time…I was very confused….it came off to me as a mix of both.
The Quick-Fixer-Upper Ending: This is a really big pet peeve of mine. Sometimes authors just end their books, they don’t conclude. This is one of them. If a book is a stand alone and the character’s journey is ending then they at least deserve a good, solid portrayal of what their lives after will be like after. I feel like this book ending too fast, there was no look into the post-trauma, just a “well they sort of lived happily ever after on their farm and they still have some issues dealing with the past. The end.” Ummmm could you expand maybe, just a little please? Like their issues were kind of big!! Really big actually, I’m still not over it!
Overall, it was a lovely story. I really enjoyed the more dramatic and entertaining bits and the hint of magic made the atmosphere even more beautiful to be in. The interesting characters and their dark pasts and motives made this a real roller coaster of emotions. Even some of their good intentions weren’t all that “good”. Interesting, I feel is the just the word to describe it.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Recommend: Yes! If you want to start out reading some Magical Realism, this could be a start!
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Did you enjoy it? Can we gush about that cover? What genres are you looking to get into/try out? I definitely need more MR recs!