“I made it here. I will show them what my name means.”
Spoiler Free Review
Title: Outrun the Wind
Author: Elizabeth Tammi
Series or Standalone: Standalone (for now, according to the author.)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT, Greek Mythology
Publication Date: November 27th 2018
Star Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Outrun the Wind begin on the premise of a hunt; it is fast paced, intense and is positively exciting. However, it shortly looses this momentum following the first couple of chapters and falls into a sluggish narrative, largely driven by prose and the woes of palace life. After a promising opening scene what follows is a slow paced, unimaginative fantasy novel that is quite frankly boring.
Outrun the Wind is set in a fantasy world inspired by Greek mythology. Told in dual perspective we follow Kahina and Atalanta – a huntress of the goddess Artemis and a lost princess respectively. Kahina is trying to earn back Artemis’ favour by attempting to complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia. It’s here that her fate collides with Atalanta, who is running away from a disastrous quest. As Kahina’s connection with Atalanta deepens she finds herself straying from the rules of being a huntress, by helping her devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage. But when the men responsible for the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find a lot enjoyable about this book. Namely because it was really lacking in excitement, tension and romance. More importantly the characters, plot and world were seriously unimaginative.
The plot seems to be the most integral aspect to my dislike for this story. Both main females characters are instantly pitched as being warriors, yet they then go on to do essentially nothing. This because Atalanta and Kahina both get stuck idling by in a castle for majority of this story. I think this had ramifications on other aspects – characters, romance and the world building.
I love where we meet the characters at the beginning, like I said the opening sequence was really promising. It was what came after that was ultimately a let down. Which in actuality, wasn’t a whole lot. (Which is the problem) Without any significant events occurring, this book lacked the tension and thrill to get me excited about it. As well as events that help the characters arc advance or that help their connections with one another deepen. I also feel like there were a myriad of hidden strengths each girl had that could’ve been illustrated with a more innovative plot.
The most that happens in this novel is that Atalanta participates in a series of races to avoid marrying a man, it often feels glossed over;
“The next morning’s race is fairly standard. No surprises, no wild excitement.”
“Five more races pass without a hitch.”
This whole novel feels like it can be really summed up with these two quotes; no surprise, no wild excitement.
Unfortunately the writing does nothing to help elevate the story or grab the reader’s attention. The writing heavily relies on telling. Telling , telling, telling.
For example, there is a painful memory from Kahina’s past that is obviously significant to her character. It is reference a lot, and so as the reader you are expecting a big reveal or explanation of her past. However, when this is eventually revealed, it is told from Atalanta’s perspective and is largely told without dialogue and feels really glossed over. A consequence of this was that it lacks whatever intending affect the author is reaching for. I truly could’ve have cared less about Kahina because this is how her “painful” backstory was delivered to me:
- “She’d told me her father is a successful merchant who’d seen every corner of our world. He’d met her mother while trading in northern Africa.”
- “I lean forward, elbows on knees, and run my hands through my hair as she tells me how her cousin brought her to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.”
- “She tells me that the god’s priests and priestesses had all been affected by Apollo somehow.”
In short: “She told me…”,”as she tells me…” and “she tells me…”. This is not how I want to experience a story.
Secondly, this novel is also very prose heavy and I’m a reader that loves dialogue. Not necessarily in favour of prose, but I definitely like prose and dialogue to be at least balanced. That was not that case with this book.
The lack of innovation also extends to the world. It’s so incredibly vague, as is any existing magic system. Which is relevant only slightly, but it appears as though some magic is performed. The fantastical aspects are also considerably missing.
Considering how popular Greek mythology is, I can’t see this book as doing anything to even try to stand out in the crowd. The extent to which this can be considered Greek mythology is that the characters have the names of mythological gods, goddesses etc. and their relationships were perhaps transposed. (I say perhaps, because I’m not 100% familiar with this mythology.) Nevertheless the political aspects and relationships of this world never really felt explored and is again, really vague
There was definitely thought put into Kahina and Atalanta’s back stories, but I think it was at times convoluted and not thoroughly explain well (as mentioned above in the writing section of this review). I don’t really have a good understanding of how the characters got to the place where we meet them. Some aspects of the characters are also confusing too. Early on, Kahina throws an arrow that makes the killing blow to an animal, as such she appears to be a good warrior. This is also supported by the fact that she’s one of Artemis’ huntresses. This definitely positions Kahina as a warrior to me (the reader). Yet there is a direct line that opposes this later on;
“C’mon, Kahina! You can do it. You’re a huntress, after all!” “Not really!” I hear her yell after me.
What?! This is such a let down… but also slightly true. Kahina doesn’t appear to have skills that support she’s a competent huntress as well (aside from in the beginning), mainly because the plot doesn’t let her show us what she’s capable of. Also why make her a huntress if she’s not going to be or become a good one?!
The F/F romance felt non-existent here. I don’t think a romance was necessarily promised, but I implied it where the blurb briefly mentions Kahina’s ‘connection to Atalanta deepens.’ If you’re like me and implied that as well, their relationship doesn’t show signs of being one until roughly 60%.
Whilst it could be argued that their relationship progresses through friendship to something more romantic (which appears to be the intention) I would’ve liked to have seen more subtleties of attraction between the two main characters shown earlier on. Because if they were there, they went over my head. More banter, angst, dialogue etc. please!
Ultimately, I’m slightly upset I didn’t like this book because it was on my TBR for months. I’m really grateful I was able to receive an e-arc from NetGalley, but unfortunately this is not a book I’d recommend, largely based on the fact it’s severely lacking in imagination.