Genre: YA SciFi, YA Dystopian Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Wow! I don’t actually know what it feels like to be in the middle of a tornado, but I’d imagined it is similar to what I felt while reading Bewilderness by Kevin Cox!
The novel follows a girl who has lost her memory and is in an entirely unrecognizable world. She soon discovers that this world is filled with dark and dangerous entities, and ends up accidentally traveling to yet another world while trying to flee. Throughout the book she faces much adversity, meets new friends, and has an adventure of a lifetime learning more about herself and existence as a whole.
There were so many things about this book that I enjoyed, but the depth and world-building were a whirlwind! I love philosophy, but very rarely do SciFi and Fantasy books incorporate it well, if at all. Bewilderness is the existential crisis that I’ve been wanting to read for years! The novel raises philosophical questions about our experiences of the world and the meaning of life. I feel as though I could immediately read it again and take away a ton of messages and ideas that I missed the first time.
While there were many moving and philosophical moments throughout the book, my favorite was towards the beginning when the main character, Ambrielle, briefly experiences a memory in which she felt as though she had a greater understanding of the universe for a split second. Cox described this particular phenomenon extremely well because I instantly knew the feeling he was talking about, and I did not think there were words to truly convey an experience like that.
Additionally, the world-building in Bewilderness was mind-boggling! Cox describes, not one, not two, but three unique worlds in such depth, that I felt as though I had explored them myself! Truly, the world-building in this book is a feat that is exceptionally difficult to accomplish, and can only be compared to authors like Laini Taylor and S.A. Chakraborty. I am excited to read the sequel, for many reasons, but mainly because I cannot wait to read the ways that Cox further develops and enriches these worlds!
The only aspects of the story that I didn’t absolutely love were the romance and, occasionally, the descriptions. I honestly feel torn about both of these things because I think they could be improved upon through development in the second book, so they didn’t negatively influence my overall enjoyment of the novel. However, I did not feel the chemistry between Ambrielle and Gavian. I would have preferred either no romance, or a stronger connection between the two characters. As I said, I think there is potential for development in this aspect, which could completely change my opinion of their relationship.
Similarly, there were certain points in the novel that went into great detail, but almost too much detail. Whenever I’m reading a book, I love losing myself in it, but a couple times while reading Bewilderness, the length and detail in the descriptions were overwhelming, to the point where I felt myself briefly disconnect. That being said, there is a fine line between too much detail and not enough, and I am a reader that would certainly prefer too much, so I can’t complain.
As a whole I was entirely impressed with Bewilderness! It addresses so many deep and significant topics, both philosophically and in a way that is easily understood. Overall, I know this book will stay with me for a long time!