Wagner has certainly envisioned an interesting fantasy and alternate reality. Though his story does contain elements common to its genre, he does combine them in a novel way. I was easily pulled into his story and was genuinely interested to see how it would all turn out.
Unfortunately, when I first came across this title, I didn’t realize it was a part of a series. So I was rather disappointed by the ending. The ending provides the reader with more questions than answers, leaving the reader hanging in for the next installment to the series. It kind of reminded me of my initial reaction after reading Robin McKinley’s Chalice
. With that book, I ultimately felt that the story was one long prologue...that the main story was only really about to begin at the novel’s close. Upon completion, Exiled
has that same feeling. Though with Wagner, there is a promise of a sequel, unlike McKinley’s novel.
One other aspect of the story I honestly did not enjoy reading was the “romance” between James and Kilani. I felt it was an unnecessary addition in regards to the plot. For me, it felt clumsy and awkward. The age difference doesn’t really work here, and if it was necessary for the story arc, James should have been older. This is more of a subject I would have expected to find in a novel by Zola. ;) I was not expecting to find this in a young-adult fantasy novel. Reading about a sixteen year old kid repeatedly thinking, hoping and desiring the attentions of the older Kilani, desperately willing her to consider him as a man and not a boy, made me cringe in shame. Reading about James fruitlessly pining for his lady love kills the hero image. For a fantasy novel, that’s not good.
Overall, while there were some elements of the story I did enjoy, I was hoping for more, especially in regards to the conclusion.