Monday, May 25, 2015

ARC Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Published: May 19, 2015 by Random House

Synopsis: Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale. 

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

 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.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This fact has not changed my opinion.***

What a fantastic fantasy read. I have seen a few fellow bloggers who I know have similar tastes in fantasy love this book so when I saw it available on Netgalley I quickly requested it and was so thankful to Random House for the approval. Uprooted brilliantly walks the line between familiar and creative with a fascinating world, complex and likable characters, and a thrilling plot that all combined to make one amazing read.

My favorite thing about Uprooted was the world that Naomi Novik created. The setting and magic of the book quickly drew me into a world that was atmospheric and dark. It's the kind of book that makes you forget about the real world while you emerse yourself in something different and engrossing. I usually like a magical system where things are very specific with clear rules and guidelines. This was not that kind of magic. This magic seemed more free form and complicated but it worked. It was fascinating in a subtle sort of way. It left me curious and questioning why and how things were happening. I felt like I could perfectly visualize everything that was happening, especially with the magic. I could see how they were performing the spells and I could see what cause they were having. 

But I could also perfectly visualize the settings of the book and that setting was an even better aspect of the world of Uprooted. It's a place where nothing is the way it seems, especially the dark wood that lurks in the periphery but becomes a huge part of the story. You see, the wood is not only the setting of this book but it's the antagonist. I absolutely love books like that, where you're fighting against something larger and more pervasive than just one person. And boy was the wood a fascinating antagonist.

And the wood was not the only fascinating character of this book. They were all complex and interesting. First and foremost there was our main character Agnieszka. I very quickly connected with her. She's not the smartest, the prettiest, or the most popular but she's a total spitfire. She stands up for herself and the people that she loves. Throughout the book she has a fantastic character arc but she always stays completely herself which I loved. As much as I like Agnieszka what I liked most about her is how she connected with the other characters throughout. There was a great female friendship in this book with Kasia, Nieshka's dearest friend. The two couldn't not be more different but they have so much love for one another and would do almost anything to support and help the other person. It was so refreshing and amazing. I also really enjoyed Agnieszka's relationship with "the Dragon." He's prickly and rude. Despite the fact that she doesn't think she's tough, Agnieszka stands up for herself and they have some great banter.

Uprooted also had an absolutely thrilling plot. There is so much to this book. It's sort of like a modern fairy tale with elements from Eastern European fairy tales and folklore but it's a story all it's own. It starts out feeling more like a retelling but then as it develops it becomes something all it's own. But it still has those classic elements from stories that I love like daring escapes, dark creatures of legends, damsels in distress, and thrilling battle sequences. And while it kept my interest from beginning to end, the pacing was a bit sporadic. It didn't slowly build to the climax it had a few smaller climaxes that made the book feel like a few different stories combined. But each of those stories were so fascinating and engaging that I didn't mind too much. And the slower pacing made it so that I couldn't really devour the book. I had to take my time and let all the fine details soak into my subconscious which I absolutely loved.

I completely adored Uprooted. It's the kind of book that when you finish you want to hug it and then start all over so you can experience it again for the first time. It's engaging and visual magical system, dark and fascinating world, likable characters, and thrilling plot all combined to make a wonderful read worth picking up.

I give Uprooted by Naomi Novik 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! The oddest thing about this book is it felt familiar and unique all at the same time. It was like meeting your new best friend that you feel like you've known your whole life. Fantasy fans and fans of fairy tales will love this book and if you are at all interested you should get your hands on a copy as quickly as possible!

No comments:

Post a Comment