I have read a great many books. Some of them classics, some trash, some were wonderfully written and others not so. My point is, I feel that my position as an avid reader means I can say this, albeit reluctantly…
I didn’t enjoy this book.
Now, I chose my words carefully here, because Lucy Hounsom is a fine writer and this is a well written, well executed book. I was interested in parts, I cared about some of it and I was frustrated in the right places, but I didn’t enjoy it.
Here’s my thinking as to why; I think maybe I’m too old and it reads like a Young Adult novel. The central theme is one of seeking identity in the world, a task which in my opinion lasts a lifetime, but is often the driving force in YA plots.
I also occasionally felt like this particular rabbit hole had dropped me in Hogwarts. This can’t really be surprising; every new influx of popularity starts somewhere and is interpreted and angled to death. We’re just moving from magic to superheroes and who knows what genre will be popularised by the machine next, so the young heroine chosen as a bearer of supernatural responsibility is a good choice, the world that Hounsom creates is a relatable and her protagonist is likeable if annoyingly, stubbornly, naive.
Torn from tradition, her family, friends and her home village by a phenomenon known as The Breaking, Kyndra Vale embarks on a journey with two beings who may, or may not, be on her side. Frightened, unsure of the truth or even where it lies, she faces trials through which she will learn things about herself that she never thought possible, and may not even want to know.
It’s a decent set up for the first in a trilogy and it does have Sweeping Epic emanating from it, but it almost feels like I’ve read it before.
Sure, stories have a natural nuance of beginning-middle-end, boy-meets-girl (versions 1 – ad infinitum), but there’s only so many power driven arduous trips, followed by groups of people jealous of the newbie much to their own detriment, that I can handle before I start to think that no one learns anything any more.
Isn’t that the point of stories or art in the first place? To hold a mirror to their culture and society and ask questions? Are we not past the plucky protagonist against the jealous old skoolers, who inevitably help in the end as the threat comes from a so-called friend and ultimate redemption from an ally disguised as foe?
Hence why I think it’s my age that stopped me from “enjoying” this book. For teenagers, dive in, absolutely. For fantasy fiction fans, maybe. Many questions are asked in this first volume and enough answers are given to intrigue those so inclined to seek the rest in following volumes. Me? I’ll be exploring a different tome…