Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

36639897

Publication Date: 27 November 2018
Publisher: Flux

Format: eBook, ARC

Pages: 294
ISBN: 1635830265

Summary: The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.

To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.

She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.

**

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

Recently, I’ve been on a streak of really bad YA novels, and unfortunately, I have yet another book to add to the pile. Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi was brought to my attention by a friend who knew how much I loved both the Huntresses of Artemis from the Percy Jackson series and queer stories. This book, a sapphic love story between Kahina, a huntress of Artemis, and the Greek heroine Atalanta, should have been an easy five stars from me. Instead, I struggled and struggled to read it, only choosing to not DNF due to a masochistic tendency to think “maybe it’ll get better”. Spoiler alert, it didn’t. Here’s my five reasons why.

Warning: This review will contain both minor and major spoilers

1. Characters were flat and poorly written

My biggest issue while reading this was that the two main characters, Atalanta and Kahina, were extremely poorly written. The book alternates chapters between the two characters and frankly, if it weren’t for the chapter titles telling me who was narrating, I would not have been able to differentiate the two of them. Even though they come from very different backgrounds, have extremely different problems, they sounded exactly alike. Atalanta was weirdly naive for a girl who’d been raised by LITERAL BEARS for the first five years of her life, then raised by hunters until adulthood. Early on in the book, her birth father manages to find her and bring her back to her birthplace, but mostly because his kingdom is struggling and he needs to marry someone off to make an alliance and get money and resources. And Atalanta just… rolls with it? She goes from not knowing anything about her family at all to suddenly being super protective of people she’s barely had more than two lines of conversation with.

Kahina, somehow, was even worse. In the beginning of the book, she makes a sudden decision to save Atalanta from getting murdered from Artemis’ boar. Artemis, naturally, gets angry because she went against direct orders, and punishes her by banishing her from the Hunt. Kahina then spends the next 50% of the book whining and complaining about how all of this is Atalanta’s fault and how much she hates Atalanta for putting her in this situation. Umm no girl. This is your fault.

2. The setting didn’t feel like ancient Greece

For a book literally based on Greek mythos, the setting felt remarkably bland. If you were to change the names of the cities, some of more Greek-sounding characters, and not mention the words chiton or sandal, this book could have been set in the most generic of European fantasy-lands. Where’re the descriptions of culture? Dining habits? Literally any other detail that shows, not tells, the reader that this is ancient Greece? I felt like the author decided that because her characters were characters in Greek mythos, that that the world building could just stop there.

3. The book was poorly researched

Not only was setting badly world built, it was also poorly researched. About 30% of the way in, there’s a line about Kahina teaching Atalanta dining etiquette and shows her what a fork is. A quick Google search will tell you that a fork wasn’t a common dining utensil until the Romans, aka definitely not something used by the Ancient Greeks. Another time, the author display’s Atalanta’s “wildness” by saying that she rode a horse without a saddle, while Kahina and another nobleman both do. Another quick Google search will show that once again, the ancient Greeks didn’t use saddles. At best, they used blankets. While these may be picky complaints, they were lines that jumped out at me because for one reason or another, they didn’t mesh with my (admittedly limited) knowledge of the ancient Greeks and Google quickly managed to confirm my suspicions. What’s worse is that in the Author Notes, the author even mentions traveling to Greece to do more research for publication.

4. Plot points didn’t feel like they mattered

Spoilers here

Going back to the book itself, one big thing that bugged me was the fact that almost none of the plot points and hurdles the characters have to face matter. In order to return to the Hunt, Kahina has to restore one of Artemis’ temples that’s been repurposed into a temple for Apollo. This assignment is given to Kahina about 30% of the way in. Upon arrival, Kahina inspects the temple, pries a couple rocks off, prays to Artemis instead of Apollo while kneeling in front of the temple, and leaves. For the rest of the book, Kahina does fuck all to actually attempt to restore the temple. Turns out, it didn’t matter whether she did anything or not because a couple of her fellow huntresses show up to take her back anyway. Another example is Atalanta’s footraces. The book makes a big deal and puts a lot of hype around Atalanta winning these footraces, day in and day out. But in the end, she just ends up being kidnapped by one of her suitors anyways, leaving the entire race to mean basically nothing.

5. Anachronisms for days

Finally, the language used felt uncomfortably modern. We get phrases like “where do we sign up?” and and “spruce it up a bit”. Things are called “crazy” and “insane”. My favorites (the worst offenders) are “unbuckle my sandals” (unlace? pretty sure sandals didn’t have buckles back then) and “gone to hell” (Hades?? someone even curses Hades a page later). Coming back to the setting not feeling like ancient Greece, what I’m trying to say here is that there were a lot of phrases used that simply didn’t fit the setting. I felt like I was reading about two modern high schoolers instead of two people actually living in Greece. Language that simply didn’t fit the context of the setting is one thing that stands out to me like a sore thumb when I read.
Overall, I rate this book a 2/5. There was so much potential here, but I was simply let down.

Bonus Quote:

/r/Fantasy Bingo 2018 Squares:

  • Subgenre: Historical Fantasy/Alternate History
  • Novel published in 2018
  • Novel Featuring a God as a Character
  • Stand Alone Fantasy Novel
  • Novel from the LGBTQ+ Database

2 thoughts on “Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

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