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The Cerulean

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Cerulean Book Poster Image
Soaring fantasy stars girl who drops to other planet.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Cerulean is a fantasy meant to entertain, but it addresses issues of self-sacrifice and courage. 

Positive Messages

It is possible to learn from your mistakes and make amends for the damage you've done to others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

An 18-year-old with silvery skin, Sera is brave, kind, willingly sacrifices herself for what she thinks is the good of her city. After she's captured, she's determined to escape. Agnes immediately wants to help Sera; Leo takes more time to see the injustice. Agnes and Leo are biracial twins, also 18. Agnes is dark-skinned, queer; Leo light-skinned, seemingly straight.

Violence

Sera spends a lot of time imprisoned in a wooden box, forced to perform for strangers.

Sex

Agnes feels a strong physical attraction to a female sailor. Sera finds herself fantasizing about someone she meets. These urges are not acted upon.

Language

One or two uses of "damn," "hell," "bastard," "s--t," and "a--hole."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sera's magic blood is used as medicine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Cerulean is the first volume of a fantasy adventure by Amy Ewing (The Jewel). To save her home, the City Above the Sky, 18-year-old Sera survives a huge fall from her planet (which is all-female and lesbian) to another (which is male and female and homophobic), only to be captured and put on display. There's infrequent strong language ("damn," "hell," "bastard," "s--t," and "a--hole") and same-sex and opposite-sex feelings of attraction and fantasizing. 

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What's the story?

As THE CERULEAN begins, Sera Lighthaven learns she must make a personal sacrifice to save her home, the City Above the Sky. She must sever the tether that binds her world to the one below. To do so, she must jump from the edge of the city and spill her blood when she lands. Somehow, Sera survives and gets captured by a family of theatrical entrepreneurs. Will her magical blood remain a curse, or does it offer the possibility of rescue?

Is it any good?

Finding a new kind of magic is a boost for any fantasy novel, and this opening volume of a new series offers a predicament unusual for this kind of literary venture. In The Cerulean, it's possible to drop from one planet to another, and Sera Lighthaven's story of survival is full of originality, emotion, and suspense. Author Amy Ewing does a good job of setting the scene and introducing the characters, including a highly dislikable villain. The Cerulean soars just as the book ends on a cliffhanger. Readers of high-quality fantasy will be primed for the second installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Cerulean depicts a character willing to make a huge sacrifice for the good of her friends and family. Can you think of public figures who've put their lives on the line for others?

  • Sera is captured and forced to perform in a stage show. Are there real-life instances of minorities and people of color forced to entertain members of the majority?

  • Do you think the light-skinned people of Sera's planet are portrayed more positively than the brown-skinned people on the planet she falls to?  

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