Showing posts with label rosamund hodge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rosamund hodge. Show all posts

Sunday, June 4, 2017

[Review] Uprooted - Naomi Novik: Magic, Fairy Tales, and Evil Trees




In UPROOTED, Agnieszka gets taken by the powerful wizard the Dragon and trained to become a witch. Together they try to protect the surrounding villages from the evil forest that's trying to kill everything near it.

What intrigued me: Recommended!

Incredibly Unique

UPROOTED is arguably the most unique fantasy novel to come out within the last two years. It is advertised as based on a Polish folk tale, and I have to say, I really felt it.

It reminded me a lot of the fairy tales I grew up with, but turned dark. 
The premise is very reminiscent of CRUEL BEAUTY, but don't let that deceive you. UPROOTED is not a story about a captive girl slowly falling in love with her rude captor, but more the story of a girl realizing her power. It's a coming-of-age novel if you will, but with magic.

The characters, mainly the Dragon and Agnieszka, are extremely well-written. I instantly loved the Dragon for his cold, mean, and downright condescending personality and adored Agnieszka for being the clumsy, likeable, and brave girl who'd try her best to annoy him as much as possible.

Too Dense?

The biggest criticism I have is definitely the writing. Novik has a very peculiar, unique writing style, composed of lots of descriptions, metaphors, etc. Very much more telling than showing. It reads slowly, taking long paragraphs for something to happen, and I found myself zoning out so often that it took me a catastrophically long time to read this.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, if you read this in your native language this might not bother you as much, and if you like flowery writing, you might enjoy this even more. I personally don't like this and it made it very hard for me to continue, even though I really, really like the story. It's undoubtedly an incredibly unique novel that's very skillfully written and more art than writing, but certainly not for everyone.

There is no way around saying that UPROOTED definitely would have benefited from being turned into a series. Because it is a stand-alone, set in such a complicated, intricate world with so many rules and peculiarities, it is extremely densely written. This just lowered my enthusiasm for it as I was reading, because it is really hard to concentrate when you're constantly being overwhelmed with background information in form of info dumps and flashbacks.

It really feels like UPROOTED is trying to be three books in one, and the relationships just don't come across as genuine as they could have been because the book is hurrying so much. Novik's writing style really doesn't work in combination with so much dense storytelling, sometimes she rushes from scene to scene, sometimes she needs one page to tell one action. Even though I am an avid advocate for stand-alones, I have to say I wish UPROOTED was the first in a series instead.

Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

UPROOTED is definitely not for everyone. It's exceptionally well-written, unique book, but I suggest you pick this up in your native language and for you to be ready for lots of flowery writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend UPROOTED, but it's just one of those books that are hit or miss.


Additional Info

Published: May 19th 2015
Pages: 438
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780804179034

Synopsis:
"Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read UPROOTED?

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

[Review] Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge: Insta-Love and A Shadow As A Love Interest


In CRUEL BEAUTY, Nyx is sacrificed as a bride to the evil demon prince Ignifex, and intends on killing him to end his reign of terror over their kingdom.

What intrigued me: Was in the mood for a swoony high fantasy romance thingy.

Very awkward writing and world building

The first thing that struck me and kind of lowered my enthusiasm for this is writing. It does read like Hodge is trying to write archaic and ancient-sounding, but isn't quite able to deliver. The result are awkward sentences that are unintentionally hilarious. Generally this does read like a corny historical fiction romance-type of story. It took a lot of getting used to the way she writes and it definitely does not compliment the premise.

The story itself is promising, the premise is interesting (despite being only a retelling), and Hodge does manage to put her own spin on the story. However, I'm not a fan of her approach. The whole idea of getting Nyx into the Ignifex's castle absolutely reads like a mere set up for a love triangle. I was absolutely disappointed to see the novel take this direction, because it has quite the interesting world, with hermiticism, an element of Greek mythology, being the main influence on it. As in, just a side element to fill up the story and give the illusion of actual world building.

I do love a good Greek myth-inspired story and was excited for this, but it just doesn't feel right. The entire "world building" feels like an easy excuse to write about the romance, and I'm not a fan of this.

Insta-love, a love triangle, and zero appeal

I knew what I was signing up for when I started CRUEL BEAUTY. What I didn't sign up for is having this story play into every cliche ever that you've seen in YA. Literally everything. From guys consisting just of eye colors and snark, to the inevitable love triangle, to instant love. 

I have seldom encountered such an unfortunate way of starting a love triangle - it takes two pages between Nyx meeting the second love interest and kissing him. Even more unusual is that the love triangle is between the demon Ignifex and his shadow. It sure reads a little awkwardly and weird, and the plot twist is extremely predictable. I was rooting for Nyx to be a cold-blooded hate-driven killer, I knew she was going to fall in love with the beast, but not easy like that! It took about 3 pages for her plan to vanish into nothingness because of a pretty boy... eh... shadow...cursed human...thing...ish. 

Like this, CRUEL BEAUTY unfortunately lost all its appeal to me and paired with awkward writing and clumsy world building this is not my kind of story.


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

My expectations were too high (mainly because of the hype). CRUEL BEAUTY tries to create the illusion that it's different and new, when it's just your average romantic retelling.

There are better Beauty and Beast retellings out there, and there certainly is better high fantasy out there that doesn't feel as awkward as this. 



Additional Info

Published: January 28th 2014
Pages: 352
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA / Fantasy / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780062224736

Synopsis:
"Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love."(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite fairytale retelling?

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