Uprooted by Naomi Novik | Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

Released: May 19, 2015
Pages: 435 pages (paperback)
Theme(s): Magic, human nature, friendship, tolls of war, value of life
Genre(s): YA / Fantasy / Fairytale
Age Group: 14+

★★½

“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 when the dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

My Thoughts

Uprooted is a standalone, fantasy novel that has been on my radar for a long time. I love fairytales of all sorts so this book’s summary seemed right up my alley, especially I was in the mood for what I thought might be a little light-hearted romance. That it is not; but nevertheless  I enjoyed it tremendously. It was beautifully told and the story really resonated with me, probably because of how unflinchingly honest it was about human nature and relationships.

I didn’t fall in love with this book all at once. It took me a little while to really get into the story, especially as the protagonist Agnieszka at first felt like a Mary Sue. But we soon find what makes her special and her follies are given somewhat of an explanation and, thus, turn into her personal strengths.

I really enjoyed how the story was told. The novel is written entirely from the perspective of Agnieszka, as if she’s telling this story to us directly, with hints of something like foreshadowing which is never too heavy handed but is a subtle reminder of no matter how dark things become that she’s made it out. My only critique in terms of style is that at times the story seemed to drag and force you to put aside your questions to be stumbling around in the moment with Agnieszka.

Why You Should Read It

  1. Strong Female Friendship. Agnieszka’s main driving force throughout the novel is protecting her best friend Kasia. Much of their lives are defined by the knowledge that either of them might be whisked away by the Dragon, although everyone believes it will be Kasia who everyone sees as special. After Agnieszka is chosen, we get to see the aftermath and how they grow closer after the Wood tries to tear them apart.
  2. A Beautiful Mad World. If you’re someone who loves vivid and fantastic world-building and imagery, then I think you will enjoy this book. As I was reading I felt I could see the world unfolding in my mind’s eye like a cinematic experience. The world is essentially a character in the story, magnificent and terrifying. It reminds me of nothing else I’ve read in recent years. Or ever.
  3. Horror & Suspense. Although it is at times a slow-burner, this is the most suspenseful novel I’ve read in a long time. There are moments where I felt like I was reading a psychological thriller. The antagonist is the Wood, which is ever creeping up upon the villages and has the power to corrupt people’s minds and bodies. The country is low on wizards so it is near impossible to tell if someone has been corrupted until they have snapped and are causing pain and suffering in their neighbors and loved ones.

My biggest criticism of the book after having now read the whole thing is that it feels a bit disjointed. I was terrified of the antagonistic force throughout the entire novel, which caused a lot of suspense. But finding out the “why” of it all didn’t do much to satisfy me, maybe because of how out of nowhere it came after the rest of the novel with no real hints. I also felt there was a lack of justice that was just devastating because of how much pain and sorrow the Wood had caused.

I do like where how the novel ends with Agnieszka and the Dragon, as it feels very believable and realistic. But also hopeful.

Have you read Uprooted? What did you think?

Thank you for reading!
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September ’17 Wrap Up

I’m in a bit of a hurry as I write this post, but I wanted to make sure I start it before I go to work for the day so it’s not hard to finish up tonight! I must say, I’m really proud of myself as I read a lot this month and have finally caught up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge! I’ve now read 26 of the 36 book challenge I set for myself at the beginning of the year. Now I just need to keep it up!

I’m also really excited to wrap up this past month because it’s one of the first times that I ever stuck entirely to the TBR list I set for the month! I read four of the five books I listed in my September ’17 TBR + Goals post.

  1. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (★★★)
  2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (★★★) – Reviewed!
  3. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (★★★★★)
  4. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas (★★★)

My favorite read this month was without a doubt The House of the Scorpion. I first read this book in middle school, probably in 6th or 7th grade, which was a while ago for me. I remembered it being one of the most powerful books I ever read at the time and I was happy to find that it holds up; it’s fantastic. It was also great that I didn’t remember much beyond the premise, so I was at the edge of my seat (metaphorically speaking) for most of the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone no matter your age. It gives you a lot to think about.

My least favorite read was definitely Tower of Dawn. I didn’t enter this book expecting too much and moderately enjoyed it. I had never much liked Chaol, or Nesryn for that matter who always seemed like such a “filler” character. And despite all the reviews I’ve read saying this book ruined Chaol for readers who had loved him, it is pretty much still the same guy in opinion. I’ve already found him broody and stupidly loyal without anything driving him to make him interesting.

Despite my dislike of Chaol and Nesryn going into this book, it wasn’t a horrible read. Nesryn’s storyline was actually pretty cool and I would’ve loved a lot more of her adventure and less of Chaol’s healing drama. The book just went on too long and had very little pay off by the end for me. There are a few reveals that make this book worth reading if you plan to finish off the Throne of Glass series as I do, but I think it’d be sufficient to just spoil yourself if you don’t want to waste time reading this installment.

If I have the time and energy later this week, I might do a spoilers post for anyone who’s interested (and for myself so I remember everything by time the last book rolls out)!

End Note

Tomorrow I hope to have my TBR + Goals for the month of October, but we’ll see. I don’t want my emphasis to be on reading this month, so I’ll likely not push myself to read much more than the three books I need to stay on track with my 2017 goal. Other than that, I’m not sure what else you can expect. My next full day off is Wednesday so I’m looking forward to getting a lot more done then.

Thank you for reading!
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My YA Book Blogger Survey | Research

Hello!

This semester for my Capstone project, I have been working on a survey to measure what reasons people have for reading YA and blogging about YA separately to see what correlations I can find to explain the prevalence of the activity in the digital age when we are faced with so many other forms of entertainment online.

To make sure I surveyed people who I know both reading YA and blog about YA, I’ve spent the past few weeks compiling a list of YA book bloggers for whom I can find an email address listed somewhere on their blog. My search was very haphazard and random, which I believed would benefit the generalizability of my results. I would often start at YA book blogs that I already followed and browsed the comments sections to pick up new leads and discover other bloggers.

In case you are wondering, the factors that I used to determine whether a YA book blogger could be compiled in my list include:

  1. If the blogger declared themselves in their sidebar bio, About page, or Review Policy page as a YA enthusiast.
  2. If the most recent books I saw reviewed on the blog largely included popular YA titles.
  3. If the blogger has posted recently.

It has been a really cool experience to sift through so many diverse blogs on personal level because I consider myself a part of this community as a lover and defender of YA literature and what it means for literacy. I’ve also discovered so many great blogs that have inspired me to be a better blogger and community member.

End Note

If you are reading this post because you followed the link provided in the email invitation to participate in my survey, thank you for your interest! I hope you will consider taking time to participate in my graduate research. If you are reading this blog post simply because you already follow my blog, I hope you found it interesting! If you’d like to hear more about my research journey I’d love to talk more on this topic, and possibly the findings, here over the summer.

If you consider yourself a YA book blogger and would like to take part in this research and be entered into a raffle for one of five $10 Amazon gift cards, please email me at my school email loricanales@utdallas.edu!

Thank you for reading!
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Weekend Reads | Their Fractured Light, I Hate the Internet, etc.

Hiya!

I currently have been in the midst of reading three separate books and there’s another one that I have added to my reading list this weekend for this weekend, so I’ve decided to challenge myself to finish all the ones that have been stuck on my Goodreads Currently Reading list for the past few weeks.

First, I want to finish Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I’ve been trying to finish this book since mid-March. I’ve enjoyed it for the most part, but I am annoyed by the turn it took before I set it down this week so I’m hoping it ends the series on a high note.

Next, I want to finish I Hate the Internet by Jarett Kobek. I was skeptical entering this book how much I would like it, because obviously I love the Internet. But the book’s turned out to be pretty funny and enlightening with all the history it provides. It’s also a really easy read because it has really short chapters and paragraphs that keep your attention, much like the Internet.

On my lowest level of priority is Identity is the New Money by David Birch. I started this book weeks ago for one of my undergraduate classes and I just never managed to finish it. It’s pretty short and I’m actually a good deal through it at this point. Also, it’s on my iPhone so I can read it anywhere. The main reason I would like to finish it this weekend is to just make up for all the books I’ve started this semester and didn’t manage to finish and, therefore, set down indefinitely.

The final book I need to get to this weekend is the one we will talk about in class next Tuesday: My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft by Bonnie Nardi. I’ve not properly started it yet so I have no idea how much I’m going to like it yet. Also, I’ve not ever played War of Warcraft, so I don’t have much motivation to read this book beyond the fact that it’s required for class. But it’s one I intend to finish nevertheless, even if I don’t finish it in its entirety by class time…

End Note

I’m really excited to get some good reading done this week. Before I go I did want to apologize for not posting in a little while! Not a day has gone by that I’ve not had a weird post idea that I’ve debated making a reality. I do have some new posts in the pipeline that should be going up next week if everything goes according to plan, including a book talk and a reading tag. Not to forget the wrap up for this weekend TBR!

What are you reading this weekend?

Do you have books that have been sitting on your TBR far too long?

Thank you for reading!
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