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Here is the thing. This is a very pleasant book to listen. The narrator is nice, the story is evenly paced and interesting enough. I also enjoyed the ever so fascinating Chinese mythology, but at the same time it feels like Middle Grade instead of YA. And not in a good way.
It's light, it skims through the real dangers and horrible moments in a way that doesn't allow the gravity of the situation to sink in. Even one sexual moment of the book is retouched to the point that you are not sure what's going on.
At the same time the world-building is static and shallow. Skybright finds out about her ability and starts conversing with the creatures of the underworld, but there is no real immersion here. No colourful descriptions or explanations about the levels of Chinese hell or interactions between gods and demons. There is hardly any back story or a sense of a greater picture. There is only here and now.
If I haven't been enamoured with Asian mythology for a long time and haven't read books like Eon, The Ghost Bride or anything written by Kylie Chan who describes a dizzying array of demonic and godly creatures in Chinese mythology, Serpentine would have been enough for me to enjoy without being picky. But it wasn't.
At the same time, there is a potential here for a deeper story, which I hope to see developed in the next book in the series; there are positive, strong female heroines and intriguing heroes in the background. While Serpentine won't fill your belly, it might still be a tasty snack for a nice afternoon. Let's just hope the next book in series will become a full meal. *wink*
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