Born of Wind by J.B. Lesel is a story about finding one’s purpose, fitting in, friendship, love, oppression and social conflicts told in the perspectives of teenagers Meleena, Talla, Deem, Flax and Yulah and set in a unique fantasy world. I loved everything about it.
All the characters are very interesting, but my favorite has to be Meleena, the main character in the book. Meleena is one of the aquatic Meruyans living on land instead of in their natural habitat in the sea. She enjoys observing plants and animals and recording them in her journal, which is a very odd thing for a Meruyan to do, or perhaps for anyone else. Even in her own home, she always feels out of place. But things change when she is chosen to join the apprenticeship at the Meruyan Council, along with fellow Meruyans Talla and Deem, where they begin to travel to other lands, learn about different cultures and, most importantly, discover the cruel and unjust treatment their own people have been facing under the Warix, a nation in power.
On the other hand, we learn about life in the Warix nations through the eyes of Flax and Yulah, a spy and a general’s assistant, respectively. Both are Warix, forest people with the power to control the wind, except Flax works alongside the Meruyans and the Warix who rebelled against the Meruyan oppression a long time ago and who are continuing to defend them. Yulah would’ve been any nice, normal friend, but as someone who grew up in Sen’Drorn City and only knows what she’s been taught, she couldn’t see that she and her people are living as passive oppressors, that their peaceful and prosperous life is only possible because of their leaders’ exploitation of another nation. “They lived in ignorance or chose not to notice the truth around them.” In the end, I felt really bad that Yulah had been deceived by someone she loves and that she was starting to turn into someone spiteful, angry and revengeful because of it. And I know how sometimes people change because of others’ deceptiveness, especially of those whom they love and trust. But at the same time, Yulah doesn’t recognize her own faults. She feels that there was nothing she did wrong, only that those who tricked her are malicious, and I guess that’s where she’s wrong.
One other memorable character for me is Borak, a Warix who finally, after so many long years, realized that his avoidance of politics, his “neutral position wasn’t such a victimless crime after all.” It reminds me that it’s never too late to be brave enough to take action and do what’s right, even if it means giving up the thing that you love most—in Borak’s case, his career as an engineer—and the comfortable life you’ve always known.
“Now was the time to act. Not tomorrow … he didn’t have tomorrow.”
Overall, Born of Wind is a wonderful debut novel and is now one of my favorites! I loved the world that J.B. Lesel has created and how she intertwined nature with fantasy—all the different cultures and the unique animals were fascinating. The story made me feel and reflect on so many things, one of which is my on-and-off desire to go back to a time before cell phones were made and quit social media altogether (elicited by Deem, who was an advocate of living underwater despite the lack of technological progress), and it was actually much deeper than I expected it to be. I highly recommend this book to fantasy readers and to lovers of exciting journeys and coming-of-age stories.
Born of Wind by J.B. Lesel is the first book of the Of the Elements series. I’ve received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.