All the Wind in the World

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 24 Oct 2017

Member Reviews

First of all, I love this cover, the swirling colors, the two characters with their backs against each other and the birds of prey who bring a sort of foreboding to the whole thing.

I fell whole-heartedly into this story. The setting is almost like a character in that you can taste the dust in your mouth, feel the sweat drip down your shoulder blades and feel the apprehension in the air at every turn and shadow. Sarah Jac is a well-formed character with a complete backstory that doesn’t necessarily make her choices better, but you do understand why she makes them. My heart broke for her over and over again as she dealt with the ramifications of hiding her love for James and the choices she made to protect herself.

I loved how Samantha Mabry was able to weave magic seamlessly into the story to the point where you’re not sure what’s real and what has an air of magic surrounding it. I’d love to say more about this story, but I think you have to read and experience it yourself (I don’t want to spoil this beautiful story for anyone!) This is a YA novel and one that I’m excited to share with some teens at work! Oh, and don’t forget, it made the longlist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature… so yeah.
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This story is of a time, with a circumstance I've never encountered. With ranches and slaves disguised as workers, used to their best abilities and paid measly amounts for them. So yes this story was good at portraying injustice many people, the oppressed have suffered at the hands of the riches, the injustice of it all.

Now bring in characters that aren't very likeable in the first place, whose decisions most of the time are very poor, and a love story that didn't just feel right to me. Sarah and James are definitely something. All lot information necessary to the story was left out and made the entire story seem clunky at best. I usually love when magic is involved, but I felt it wasn't necessary for this story.

This story took me so long to read because the story couldn't hold my interest no matter how hard I tried for long. That's why I am now sharing my thoughts on the book after so long, everything about this book, the cover, synopsis all seems promising but the way the story unfolds isn't as captivating to my mind.
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This book was a country side escape ride. I think there could have been so much more to this book. I feel like because of how short it was, you could not get much of a story. There was hardly any plot to it. I did not really feel connected to the characters either because they did not have any qualities that stuck out to me as "I want to be that person." Overall, I felt really disappointed in this novel.
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A truly interesting concept, but needed a bit more development,  All the Wind in the World pits a couple in love with a world that doesn't want them to be. Between racing on trains to stealing to eat, this book introduces a long sick couple fighting to be together and make a place to stay safe. I liked the premise with its dystopia feel, but had a hard time liking the characters. I didn't dislike them, but needed more to actual care what happened.
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This started out kind of slow, but worked it's way through that to an alright story. Sarah Jac and James find obstacles everywhere, they have to keep their relationship a secret, plus when it seems everything backfires, have to overcome them again. The setting is in a sort of dystopian future and it just didn't do it for me.
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A really magical book with awesome characters, I don't know if I would want it on my shelf but it is still a good read
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I received this book in exchange for an honest opinion, which has not altered my opinion in any way.

In all honesty, this book confused me a bit. I really got into some of the storyline, but overall it left me feeling annoyed and disappointed. I was not a fan of the way that Sarah Jac and James went through their relationship and I’m not a fan of all the lying that went on between the two of them. In all honesty, I think they should have split ways in Texas. I thought that James was enough of a player that Sarah Jac should have left a while ago, the entire part of him and the other women really bothered me. Conversely, I thought that Sarah Jac concentrated a lot on what would make James happy and less about what would make others and her happy.

I did enjoy the intense description of the people and the location and I could easily picture where the story took place. The images used and the emotion did seem to be real, but I really was not a fan of some of the characters.

Overall,  this story was a bit of a letdown for me and I found myself not liking any of the characters and getting super annoyed with them all. However, for people who are fans of the idea of doing anything and everything (including cheating?) that tends to happen in romance novels, then this would be a good read. it just honestly was not my cup of tea. 2.5 out of 5.
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“Constellations aren't obvious until the moment they are. Then you wonder how you hadn't been able to see them before when the pictures are all so clearly there, telling a story.”

Hauntingly beautiful and dangerously enticing, Samantha Mabry's All the Wind in the World is a fantastic addition to the romance genre in young adult literature. With the desire to eventually own their own land and live a life of peace, Sarah Jac and James are forced to find work in the harsh conditions of the maguey fields. But when a disaster strikes, the two must find a new place to work, where their strength and relationship will be put to the test. In this gripping tale of love and sorrow, Mabry's novel promises to have readers intrigued until the very last sentence.


Mabry's young adult novel was a fairly enjoyable read, and a very quick one at that. Though there are some things that made me question the point of the story, my overall reading experience was pleasant!


The general idea of the story stems from a couple trying to make a living by working on maguey fields, in the hopes that one day they'll be able to afford a home of their own one day. Due to the high competition on finding jobs in the fields, Sarah Jac and James pretend to be cousins rather than a couple...since couples are easier to target. Obviously, we get some tension regarding jealously and lovers quarrels.

When it comes to genre bending, this book definitely hits a home run. Mabry adds romance, magical realism, contemporary, and dystopia all into a book that isn't even 300 pages...that, my friends, is a pretty incredible feat. It's nice since it opens the book up to multiple readers rather than gearing towards one genre.

Nevertheless, there are a few things that didn't sit well with me. One is the world itself; readers know that it's our world since it references cities we know, yet Mabry never really discusses the state of the world fully and how it got to such a state. For those who are very detailed oriented when it comes to setting, you'll be a little disappointed.

The other is...WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE STORY?! Maybe I'm reading too much or not enough into this story, but I never felt a real understanding of what the purpose was behind what the characters went through and the decisions made. It just felt like reading a bunch of random events and then the story ended...


There are a number of characters introduced in this story, but the main are Sarah Jac and James. There are some other good individuals to mention, but discussing them ruins parts of the plot. For a story that seems to be about (from what I can tell) mending mistakes and learning to let go and trust others, I found that the characters had little development. If anything, some of them seemed to be going in constant circles. It was rather odd to be frank.

Most of the characters are fairly likeable, even the ones you aren't supposed to like; personally, I find this a BIG plus since I find it incredibly difficult to read books where I can't stand the characters. Funny enough, James is the ONE character that really bothered me. Most people seemed to get fed up with Sarah Jac, but she's probably one of my favourites. James confused me...a lot. I didn't understand his reasons for making certain decisions and how he ended up from one point to the next. With the story being a first person narrative under Sarah Jac's POV, this could be a major reason why this happened.


The language throughout the story is beautiful and captivating. Even though the plot confused me and the characters drove me nutty at points, I never felt quarrels or disappointment with the writing. The amount of meaningful and beautiful quotes in this story is simply astounding; even though I didn't really understand what was happening, I could at least find meanings and lessons in various passages throughout the tale.

The language is fairly simple and easy to follow, making it effortless to finish this book in a day.


I feel incredibly bad, since I feel as though this review fell a little short. Honestly, I had a REALLY hard time reviewing this book; either I felt unsure how to convey my thoughts or I didn't have thoughts due to utter confusion of this book. It was both a beautiful read yet a disappointment. When reading the synopsis, I was expecting more action and danger; unfortunately, the story focused largely on confusing events and the awkward romance rather than any sort of grand voyage. A lot of the choices and actions made by characters didn't make sense to me, yet I still felt this desire and urge to finish the story. If you're looking for a romance and magical realism focused story, this may be a good choice for you!

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Actual rating 3.5/5

This book combines elements of mystery with a dash of magic, all backdropped by an old west setting. This book is fast-paced, and Samatha perfectly adds elements of magic in a real-world setting. There were a few elements that fell flat for me, but overall I did enjoy it, and I'm glad I got the chance to read it.
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This book was good and had many moments of drama and suspense that had me flipping the pages quickly, however it also suffered from a few flat areas where the page-turning was not as quick. 
Sarah Jac was a very complicated girl, in a very complicated situation. She had to act tough, be ruthless, think about no one but herself and James, but having hard hearts leads to big trouble in many ways as having a soft heart does. She wasn’t exactly the most “likeable” character but she was and interesting one at that
I liked James in the first half of the novel. He seemed like the endless flirt who just wanted everyone to feel good. To be even just a little content in time of hardship. Then the second half of the novel came and my feelings changed. His character took a turning point that just made me dislike him, and I refuse to forgive him!
There were plenty other characters like the ranch owners, the other maguey laborers and foremen but none of them took a prominent position.  They did however make a big impact on Sarah Jac and her journey, Bell being the biggest factor of them all.
The best aspect of this book is the atmosphere, the setting and descriptions. Just beautiful. You really get the sense of the hot desert sand, the blazing sun, the relentless heat that is beating on our characters day in and day out. Mabry does a superb job creating the atmosphere and the tension of the characters nerves, motives and actions. Very well done.
 The use of magic to makes the reader understand the desperation of Sarah Jac. Her experience working in these fields and the memories from her past that plague her. I enjoyed the use of magic to explain the going-ons in Sarah’s head and her emotions. It just added to the beauty of the story and I really enjoyed it.
I was also a little confused about the time period! Was it set in the old west or in some twisted dystopia based on that time…I was very confused….it came off to me as a mix of both.
I also feel that the ending was finished too quickly, I would have liked to have read a little more on the after and get some closure on the bigger issues between the characters. 
Overall, it was a lovely story. I really enjoyed the more dramatic and entertaining bits and the hint of magic made the atmosphere even more beautiful to be in. The interesting characters and their dark pasts and motives made this a real roller coaster of emotions.
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Sarah Jac and James Holt traveled from ranch to ranch harvesting maguey, a plant which makes tequila and other alcoholic liquids. They pay is low and the conditions were worse. Sarah and James compensated by creating a con that they enacted at each farm they worked at. It started with pretending that they were cousins, not a romantic couple, so that James could sweet talk another girl. But this time, with all the weird rumors of a curse at the newest ranch, they may pay a high price to hold onto their love. 

All the Wind in the World was something else. It wrote of a time period and situation I was not familiar with. It was set sometime in the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century in the deserts of the South. There were ranches that grew maguey, and the workers were little more than slaves. They were paid, but not much, and they were treated harshly. The owners were rich and privileged, and they cared not for their employees. In many ways, this book was written to show the injustices of the time and location. To show readers that this happened. The author did that well, and I enjoyed the peek into a different time and place.

The rest of the book was not the best. The plot was the relationship between Sarah and James and the supposed curse on the ranch. It was complicated, and there were plot twists I was not expecting. The overall tone was depressing, fitting with the themes in the novel. The part about the curse was never fully explained. Some of it was explained, but the why's, how's, and what next's were left to guesswork. I was irritated with all the major characters except one. Definitely not my newest favorite book. 

Still, I would recommend it to others, those who enjoy historical, YA romances. 

I received a complementary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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I really enjoyed the setting of this book. I found the desert landscapes of New Mexico and Texas refreshing for a YA Contemporary. Mabry did a wonderful job of putting her life experience of living in Texas into the writing of this books scenery and its changes. There were parts that almost seemed more dystopian in nature than contemporary but I didn't mind that. I found the concept very interesting as well with the mystery around everything. I think the setting and certain aspects of the plot are what carried me through this book. 

Sarah Jac is not the most likable character and I did struggle with that throughout the book. At times her selfishness causes great distress for those around her and I don't feel like much of that was resolved in the end. I think it is good to have unlikable MC's once in a while but I think Sarah Jac was just a bit too much for me. I think I would've enjoyed her character more if there were multiple POV's to break up the negativity that seems to surround her. 

I really enjoyed James's character. I felt like he was the most genuine of the two and he really carried the story. You can really feel the strain on him in having to constantly monitor Sarah Jac to make sure she's not causing trouble, and I think he's getting tired of running. There is a moment in the story that kind of turned me off of liking  him for reasons I feel were unnecessary to the plot and I was a bit disappointed by that. 

The relationship between Sarah Jac and James was really confusing to me. I think I would've enjoyed the story more if they were not meant to be lovers in any capacity, or if they weren't cousin's and their relationship was more open and defined. It isn't really clear on why they can't be open about their relationship when it seems to be a non-issue for other characters. 

I enjoyed the side characters more than the MC's in this story because they were all unique in their own ways. They each brought something to the story that really helped contribute to the setting and the plot. My favorite moments were when they were sitting around the campfire talking with each other after a long days work out in the fields. In those moments I could really get lost in the story. Each character also brought with them a bit of mystery and I do like the tales they told about the ranch owner's and the strange things that seem to happen when something goes wrong.
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This book was incredible. The writing was all encompassing and atmospheric, the setting was a character in itself, and Sarah Jac is my favorite kind of narrator - flawed, nearly ruined, but holding onto that one last thing that will save her. Desperate narrators tell the best stories.

I'm sobbing while I write this, by the way.

I don't think I've ever felt the longing of a character like I felt Sarah Jac's longing for James. I felt pain when she did. I cried when she refused to do so. 

I am wrecked. This book was so good. 

*A note - I saw some reviews saying that people were squicked out because Sarah Jac and James are cousins. THEY'RE NOT COUSINS. That was part of their ruse. It's fake news, because they are unrelated. /note

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!
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DNF @ 20%. I was intrigued by the cover and the synopsis, but going into the novel, I didn't feel as it lived up to its full potential. I might pick this one up later but it just wasn't for me.
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I really loved it. The story is unique even though it has the post-apocalyptic basics: the fields, the desert, the lack of hope, those in-depth descriptions give a different and rich perspective on the storyline.
Between the two main characters I loved Sarah the most: she's not your average post-apocalyptic heroine, she's hard, disenchanted and needs James's optimism to see the good in people. But she's also strong, resilient, brave and fragile in the desperate love for James.
The author's style is perfect for that kind of story, there are no such thing as cheesy dialogues and love scenes, hard hearts and hard words.
I have to say, though, that the first part of the book is a little bit slow, it requires patience and determination from the reader to keep going on. But when you do and you reach the second part you will not be able to stop reading. The angst, the pain, the sadness, everything is so intense that i was sobbing half of the time.
The ending wasn't up to my expectations: I wanted and needed more because what happened with James was too unfair to be left unspoken.

All in all, this is a good book, for young readers and adults alike.
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Sadly one of my most anticipated releases fell flat for me. I loved her debut novel, but this one was all over the place. I didn't believe the "romance" between Sarah and James, the plot was all over the place, one character didn't feel like they had a place in the book among other things. My review is now up on my blog with my mini review and more thoughts.
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My Thoughts On...
...The Plot

Life for Sarah Jac and James is the same day in and day out. They earn a living cutting maguey on the Truth or Consequences ranch, saving every cent in the hopes that one day they'll have enough to move back out East and run their own ranch. However when a dust storm stirs, and in trying to stop a scared and stampeding horse from trampling a man and his young son, Sarah Jac accidentally kills one of the foreman and the pair are forced to flee for their lives.

Right away I was hooked on the picture Samantha Mabry was painting in her story. Like all magical realism books I've read so far All the Wind in the World didn't have a lot of background, and the story started slow as it introduced the characters and their world, but I never once felt lost or like I had missed parts of the story. 

Sarah Jac and James end up at The Real Marvelous hoping their actions at Truth or Consequences haven't followed them, but there are rumours that the land they now work is cursed. As their days continue, as Sarah Jac and James are pulled apart by their secrets, it seems that even though their past hasn't followed them, there is more danger inside The Real Marvelous than they both realise.

This was a beautiful story, lyrical and magical like all magical realism books I've read so far. The way the story unfolded left me to make my own assumptions about what happens at The Real Marvelous, about the curse and the prophet and the witch. I feel like magical realism is a hard genre to get right – an author needs to be careful that they're developing the story enough so their readers can understand what's happening, but at the same time that they aren't giving out too much information – but Samantha Mabry has undoubtedly told a beautiful magical realism story with this book.

...The Characters

Unfortunately it was the characters that knocked two stars off this review for me.

Sarah Jac is our main character, and the one whose eyes we see the story through, and I couldn't stand her character. She's had a hard life, she lost her entire family and after events that happened when she and James started working as ranch hands she's been forced to harden her heart, but some of her actions in this book were so hateful I had such a hard time understanding her. Something she did near the end of this book genuinely made me hate her character, and I nearly DNF-ed the book.

It was the same thing that happened with Mabry's debut novel, A Fierce and Subtle Poison. It was a beautiful story with incredible world building, but I couldn't connect with the main character. Granted it wasn't as bad with Lucas as it was with Sarah Jac, but when a story is told in first person POV and you can't connect to the main character it's hard to feel invested in their journey or their story.

The relationship between Sarah Jac and James was one I enjoyed reading. After what happened at the very first ranch they worked in Sarah Jac and James have been forced to hide their relationship. They pretend they're cousins to keep themselves safe but when they get to The Real Marvelous things change for the both of them. I feel like this story would have benefited being told through James's POV as well, All the Wind in the World was supposed to be a love story between Sarah and James but I can't say anything about the development of James's character because there's nothing to say.

...The Setting

All the Wind in the World is set in a very interesting world. The West United States has dried up and the only work people can get is cutting maguey, the only plant that grows in the dryness, for a few cents a day. It's a very bleak world, but the way Samantha Mabry writes it makes it seem magical as well, albeit dark and magical. There's not much explanation behind this new world, why the West coast has been turned into a desert, but there was plenty of development to make it feel real. The lack of background didn't bother me at all. Like with all the magical realism books I've read so far I quickly fell into the world and the story, and never once stopped to wonder 'why', just 'what's next'.

I thought for a long time over what I should rate this book because while I didn't like the main character I loved the world, I loved the story, and I loved Samantha Mabry's writing. If I'd been able to connect with Sarah Jac I would have very easily given this five stars, as is All the Wind in the World is still a wonderful magical realism book but it's my least favourite of the ones I've read so far.
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An interesting concept executed poorly. There was a lot of world building that ended up being lacking. How did the world become like this? What were other ramifications? We're focused on one region of the US, what is it like elsewhere? Did it happen suddenly? etc etc The magical realism was hinted at, but really needed just an extra bit of something. As a reader, I needed more for both if these aspects.

Aside from the world, the story itself was interesting enough. The characters weren't very fleshed out, but it's a plot story more than a character one. You're given enough about the characters to service the plot. 

I did enjoy the authors writing style. While I wasn't blown away by this book (a debut novel), I'll definitely check out her next one.
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Sarah Jac and James work in maguey fields. That's been their lives since they left Chicago behind, but the plan has always been to save enough money to go back. After an accident happens in the fields, they jump on a train and head to The Real Marvelous - a mysterious farm that many call 'a cursed land'.

The book is never 100% about the scenario but my guest is a dystopian world where the climate changes affected the whole U.S. leaving the land dry and desert. Sarah Jac is the narrator here and she's both simple and incredible. She's tenacious on hiding her love for James (finally a couple I can root for and not roll my eyes!) and being the best maguey cutter in the land. She knows her place, yet she's true to her personality.

One of my favourite characters is definitely Leo - from the first moment he meets the MCs there's an aura of "can we trust him?" that kept me tense and interested. Every he said and did was ambiguous and I loved it! I did have a hard time understanding Sarah and James' strategy on creating relationships with the other workers - they often seemed both distant and eager to make connections and I felt lost sometimes on how they felt about the other characters.

I really, really liked how the author mixed this dystopian setting, magical-realism (?), suspense and action. Sarah Jac's voice was completely honest and maybe for the first time ever, I wanted the book not to have tied all the knots so I'd have some hope for more stories in this world. A companion perhaps?

Great story, cool settings, interesting characters - what's not to love? :)
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