You guys, this book was SO TERRIBLE. I’m not sure where I heard about it, typically whenever I see something that interests me I slap it on my library hold list so I don’t have to remember anything. But usually I get my book recommendations from reputable sources, and while there have certainly been books that I didn’t like, they were always well written, decent books.
The basic story is fine: generic fantasy trope of the girl who was raised in hiding to protect her from evildoers until she could assume her role as queen when she came of age. Fine. Nothing wrong with clichéd plot lines. But seriously, maybe read a book or two in the genre before venturing in yourself. Or, you know, do some ACTUAL RESEARCH. I know more about how to properly guard someone through the forest than this author, and I never go outside. I could also rattle off a decent list of names for pieces of armor, if not 100% match them to what they actually are. Here’s a hint- there’s more to it than just the breastplate.
But even more than that are the glaring inconsistencies in almost every aspect of this book. The main character has been raised in isolation by two people- never exposed to anyone else or allowed to play with other children. And yet she is an excellent judge of character and can read body language and facial expressions like some street savvy con artist. Okaaaay.
They are rushing through the woods to get her to the castle to be crowned, fully aware that there are groups of the most dangerous assassins in the land searching for them, and yet the guards chatter and drink and play cards around the campfire. Professional.
Every wound she gets involves drastic blood loss leading to loss of consciousness and near fatality, but she gets stitched up and is back at it the next day. Realistic.
The queens guard are all sworn to protect her, but they’re also apparently sworn to secrecy and can’t tell her anything about her mother the previous queen (who she never knew), or the kingdom, or the current state of affairs anywhere , or any actual useful information related to actually ruling a country. Oh, and we never get an explanation on why they are sworn to secrecy, or to whom, or just what topics can’t be mentioned. It’s more like “you better be a great queen, but we can’t give you any help, or teach you anything at all about how to do the job. Don’t mess up!” Yeah, seems logical.
A respectable portion of any fantasy novel is the world building. Some authors are incredible at this (Brandon Sanderson I’m looking at you!), and some are less so. That’s why so many inhabit that familiar, vaguely middle age Europe-land. No big deal. As long as it hangs together realistically and we can understand the basic rules of magic and what not, proceed. But this book is apparently taking place in OUR universe, some indeterminate length of time in the future, after the British and the Americans have sailed off (somewhere) and formed a new land. With no technology. And swords. And magic. Totally plausible, right? I mean, sure. That could totally happen. But here’s the catch: if you are making up a world from scratch, have at it. Do whatever you want, the readers are just along for the ride. But if you are going to set it in the world we live in EVERY SINGLE DAY, then you best out on your thinking cap ‘cuz you have some ‘splaining to do. You need to know WHY these people set off to found a completely new land with multiple countries. You need to know HOW they planned to establish the rule of government, and WHAT the basic tenets of their founding fathers were. (Also helpful, what happened to the rest of the world? Is regular America still there?). The suggestion in the book is that they were trying to create some kind of utopia, but no mention is given to what kind of utopia. Socialist? Extreme doomsday prepper utopia where the zombies can’t get us? I can’t think of anyone who would decide to start a new colony without any basic political goals, not to mention with no real attempt at bringing along basic fundamentals of modern life. They did say there was an effort to bring along modern medicine, but that every single doctor and piece of medical equipment was on the same ship and it sank. So no more doctors of people who know anything about medicine, and I guess unlike the first time through history we are unable to re-discover any of it? I don’t know. Suffice to say, the success of fantasy books set in our universe (hunger games, divergent) lies in the fact that while the circumstances that led to those realities are implausible, they are still imaginable. There is an underlying foundation to rest the story on, whether or not the source of the implied apocalypse is ever explained. In this instance it seems more like “hey, won’t it be fun to base my novel her on Earth? That way I can pepper it with references to Harry Potter and The Hobbit.”
Speaking of Harry Potter, the main character is a fan of reading, and basically grew up with the only books left in the entire country. She is aghast at the scarcity of books, and at how most people seem to not even miss having access to them. There hasn’t been mandatory schooling for children in over 20 years. And yet literally everyone she comes across, including the young children of a peasant woman she rescued and takes into service, can read. Seriously. And it’s shocking when they discover one of the characters can’t read. Over a century of no one reading and yet no one is illiterate? I feel like you have to actually TRY to be this incompetent.
In all fairness, I don’t completely blame the author. After all, there are plenty of idiots out there stringing words together into sentences (welcome to my blog). But the editor, who presumably checked this for errors (no way this shit didn’t have typos EVERYWHERE), didn’t find any flaws in the logic? And the publisher, who read this even BEFORE editing, still decided it was worth the time and money to actually print? Insane.
Not only that, but apparently this is not only going to be a SERIES a of (stupid) books, but also a movie. With Emma Watson, who is about the most darling thing ever and who I’m struggling to retain my respect for after hearing she was linked to this crap. Given the basic plotline I’m sure it could make a decent movie, provided they don’t let the author within a hot like of the script. But I don’t think I’ll be able to stomach shelling out money for anything in anyway associated with such lazy, inept storytelling.
I haven’t thought about my dream of being a writer in a long time, having turned my attention elsewhere, to yoga and my kids. But seriously, if this is the kind of quality hitting shelves nowadays, then maybe I should get back to it. Hell, my NaNoWriMo novel from 4 years ago is still on my hard drive. It has more logical coherence than this drivel and it doesn’t even have an ending.
ps: I kind of want to recommend to everyone I know that they read it just so I can shout “I KNOW, RIGHT?” When they point out how awful it is. I also kind of want to personally punch everyone in Amazon who gave it a 5 star review because, really? Did you READ the book? No way they read the book.
pps: Here is the link to my Amazon review. In case you still aren’t sure how I feel about this book