Uprooted- Naomi Novik. Pan Macmillan.
Uprooted was a book I had been keen to read ever since I... well, saw its cover. It has such lovely covers. And then there was also the terribly intriguing premise, the rave reviews... it sounded like my kind of book, and when I was lucky enough to receive a review copy "thrilled" would've hardly covered it (although I was also daunted by the size).
But... I didn't get through it, for a number of reasons- and do remember that I am basing these opinions on how much I had read of the book; I realise things might have developed, conversations been had, development been made. It hadn't when I was reading, though-:
-Agnieszka was quite a bland main character and her personality really frustrated me
-The pace was very slow and focused heavily on description; I felt like I could skip a couple pages now and then and I wouldn't really miss anything, except for knowing details of the characters surroundings and what food they might have been eating
-The Dragon was awful, outright mean (and for no real reason I could see, either) and the way he behaved (and also the way his every touch was painted with romantic suggestion even when he was utterly horrible) made me angry. Even faintly furious
-I felt like it was Jane Eyre (in feel and character dynamic, not plot) and I do not like Jane Eyre. It's actually tied as my all time least favourite book, so it's an unfortunate comparison for me to feel and make
-The really uncomfortable near-rape scene, where a guy who is used to getting what he wants won't listen to Agnieszka's "no's" as he strips her. And the consequent blame she was passed on from The Dragon! for dressing provocatively. *sarcastically cheers him* I believe she did set him right on what had really happened and he demurred slightly, but... I don't recall an apology being presented.
That last one made me furious; the way the situation was dealt with and the way The Dragon, who is a love interest treated Agnieszka was just infuriating, and what got me even more frustrated was the fact I hadn't seen it mentioned in a single review. Not one. This scene that could have been potentially so triggering, that happened before the 100 page mark, and out of all the reviews I read no one had even mentioned it. I couldn't go on.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan for this review copy!
Image source: Pan Macmillan.
Soundless- Richelle Mead. Penguin Books Australia.
Soundless most certainly caught my interest from the first; it has an incredible premise (I think the ziplines got many of us onboard?) and a gorgeous cover, and I know Richelle Mead has a lot of author credit to her name. I've never been particularly drawn to the VA books, but Soundless got me wholeheartedly interested and no way was I passing up the opportunity to read such an interesting book.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out, which may be obvious. I struggled virtually from the start with the narration and the fact that I felt like I was being told a story in an entirely uninvolved way, or at least in a way that left me uninvolved. I never felt a thing for Fei, her sister, her love interest, or the rivalry with the romance; my intrigue with the deafness and oncoming blindness of the townspeople did spark prolonged intrigue that kept me reading, as did Fei's work as an artist who captured the towns news, along with other prestiegious artists, but it petered out as scenes continued and I remained unmoved or involved by any. And I couldn't keep reading, not feeling like that about it. Not even for ziplines.
Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for this review copy!
Image source: Penguin Australia.
The Mouse and His Child- Russell Hoban. Allen and Unwin/Faber.
Last year was an excellent "old childrens classic" year for me, with a whole heap being republished with generally lovely covers and many sparking my interest. When I heard about The Mouse and His Child, I had hoped it would prove to be a continuation of that theme, carrying me into the new year.
It is the story of a clockwork pair, the mouse and his mouseling child, who are created, sold, bought, used, broken and thrown away, although their story doesn't end there. It sounds perfectly like the excitement of many a childhood classic to me! Only... I was again left uninvolved by the narration, reading scene after scene and never feeling like they truly could pull me right into the story and hold me fast. The stakes were high for this clockwork pair, and I dearly wanted to know their story, a story that had everything it promised me, yet not the magic of a children's classic. Not for me.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image source: Allen and Unwin.
So You Want to be a Jedi? - Adam Giowitz.
Beware the Power of the Dark Side! - Tom Anglebeager.
After my rather fair sucess with the first book in this series, a retelling of A New Hope by Alexandra Bracken, my Star Wars fever grew exponentially. I was watching the movies, I was awaiting the new one, I was pumped by the stories being published all about, and I had the good fortune to be sent these, the other two books in the sequence, two books that don't exactly retell the original films, but also bring you up to speed with the plot, detailing extra parts, characters, scenes and giving knowledge boosts along the way.
Thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont for these review copies!
Image source: Hardie Grant Egmont.Except... well, they kinda did retell. Almost exactly. I got through enough of each of these two novels I had been so luminously excited for, only to realise they weren't for me- simply because they didn't give me enough new content or make me consider aspects of the original stories The Princess, The Scoundrel and The Farmboy had managed to. Instead, it felt like a play-by-play of what I already knew, only the unspoken actions were told rather than seen.
Each book did have a definite originality to it: in So You Want to be a Jedi? you get a first-person narrative that distinctly reminded me of those "choose your own adventure" books one may've grown up with, and you are guided- as Luke- on your journey to becoming a jedi, lessons and training interjecting the chapters, giving you steps to follow; in Beware the Power there is a potential wealth of tidbits about the side characters you catch sight of and the places you travel across. Ever wondered about everyone in Jaba's palace? Wonder no more.
And yet even then, it wasn't enough, for the story went back to what I knew, only directed very surely at a younger age group, making me feet detached and, unfortunately, tired by reading a story that wasn't proving to surprise me at all.
They are an exciting introduction to the Star Wars films, this series of books, and I did enjoy the first one, but overall? I think it's the films that tell the story best of all, at least for me.
Image source: Hardie Grant Egmont.