Summary from Goodreads:
A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond...
The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
I will admit that I picked this up because it was about a library apprentice and that alone intrigued me, but I'm so glad I did. This book was so much more than I expected.
Air Awakens felt a bit like Avatar: The Last Airbender only in an academic setting, with the war off screen (so far). Sorcerers specialize in a specific element (fire, water, earth, air) and as such, are better at different sorts of magics. Sorcerers of air have been all but eradicated (sound familiar?) until now. Unlike Avatar, where the magic is given form by some seriously awesome Tai chi moves that would not translate very well into a novel, the magic of Air Awakens is brought about by concentration and lots and lots of practice. That said, one could argue that this series certainly pulls from Avatar but not enough to feel like a clone. This is very much a unique story.
The characters are beautifully written, and the relationships are well rounded. For each one, there is much more than meets the eye. Vhalla's decision to either embrace her magic and become what she's always feared or remain safe in the library is something that plagues her throughout the book. What I loved is that she has the answers at her fingertips because she is a library apprentice (and yes, I'm biased since I'm a librarian) and so she can find more information on sorcery and what it means to have magic. However, even reading books about magic is considered taboo among her peers, and that brings a danger all of its own. The decision is not just something that effects her, but her relationships with her friends and with the kingdom as a whole.
There is definitely much more going on in this world, and I'm very excited to read what happens to Vhalla next in the second book, Fire Falling.