Surfer. Shark Tamer. Fire Walker. Explorer. Teenager. Hero.
Five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic.
When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.
As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt - just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano.
With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki's spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana?
Two brothers, but only one can rule.
I received a free copy of the audiobook for an honest review.
The Kingdom of Oceana is based on the Hawaiian Islands five centuries ago. Prince Ailani is the second born to the king of the Big Island and Ailani has always assumed that his older brother, Nohoa, will become the next king. The brothers are typical brothers with the older one picking on the younger one.
It is easy to envision the beautiful Hawaiian setting as this story unfolds. The author does a great job of describing it. There are also Hawaiian myths and legends included which makes it more interesting.
The Kingdom of Oceana begins with Ailani and Nohoa unleashing a centuries old curse but there are also tensions building between the island kingdoms, as well as odd occurrences in the ocean. With so much happening, and the kingdom needing all the warriors they can get, the princes are sent on a vision quest to find their spirit animals. The brothers help each other but there is even more tension between them now that there is a princess whom they both like. There’s adventure, adversity, legend, love, and suspense and it all builds up to a surprising ending.
The narrator choice was a good one. The story is told from Ailani’s POV and the narrator has the perfect accent for it (whether it’s real or not, it’s perfect).
I definitely recommend this book for middle school readers and older. I think adults will like it as much as the younger readers.
Just a couple of days ago, I was sent study guides that go along with this book. They are great! One is titled Earth Science and the other Humanities. Both contain a lot of information about the Hawaiian Islands, discussion questions for classes, and even some multiple choice questions. These would make great resources for a class studying Hawaii and the book could be tied into the studies as well.
Any additional comments?
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I love Hawaii. I love the island culture, the delicious breeze that always smells like coconut, and the beautiful landscapes. So reading this book was a little bit of a nostalgic vacation for me, and that made it a fun selection.
I enjoyed the descriptions of the lands and the people, as well as the ancient curse and Kahuna magic. The relationship between the islanders and the animals was lovely, and the spirit animal aspect was interesting as well.
This story is about two brothers, sons of a King, and an ancient curse that threatens the people. Nahoa is the firstborn, the expected heir with his tough-guy demeanor and ego. Ailani is the younger of the brothers, who is driven to do the right thing and to protect the precious sea creatures as well as their lands and people.
There is a lot of sibling rivalry in this book – it got to be a bit much for me. They are both still young, so it makes sense their antics would be so juvenile, but sometimes it felt like the conflict between the brothers was driving more of the book than the main conflict of the ancient curse.
I did like Ailani and his determination to dig into the problems and bring them to light and be the savior. I did wonder at why the Kahuman sent Ailani on such dangerous journeys alone. Surviving and succeeding would certainly help him overcome his insecurities and build his character should he become King one day, but he is still just a boy.
An issue I had with the book is the pacing. So much happened in this short book, and many things felt rushed, while some scenes seemed to drag. The ending, specifically, just happened so fast. While the main conflict was resolved, not all the ends were tied up. I did later find out this is meant to be a series, but while I was reading, I thought this book was a standalone debut.
I read the audio of this book and thought it was well done. The accents added to the cultural experience of this read, which is always a fun thing.
I overall did enjoy this book but felt like there were a few scenes that would benefit from some more storytelling and plot development.