BONUS BOOK: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

“Of course there were quarrels sometimes and people you liked less, and sometimes even a fight broke out, if people got angry enough. But when harvest came, your neighbors came to help you gather and thresh, and when the shadow of the Wood stole over use, we knew better than to make it any darker.”

Side Note: Hello faithful readers! Thanks for sticking with the unusually quiet Banned Book Brigade over the past 1.5 months. For most of that time, I was on a sailboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with access to nothing but books, so you can look forward to some interesting upcoming reviews. Happy reading!

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Fiction

Book Jacket Synopsis: “‘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.

Review: I first encountered Uprooted during a particularly slow day at work.While discussing recent reads with a similarly-bored co-worker, she recommended that I read a free excerpt of Uprooted. While that excerpt only contained the first three chapters, I was instantly hooked. Unfortunately, Uprooted did not live up to my initially high expectations. After finishing the book, I was even more perplexed by my dislike for the novel given that it has a Goodreads rating of 4.16 out of 5 stars. In addition, Goodreads reviewers whom I typically strongly agree with (like the infamous Emily May) loved this book. Authors Rick Riordan and Maggie Stiefvater even gave the book glowing five-star reviews! Overall, I think my negative opinion of Uprooted largely stems from the fact that the plot dragged and Novik failed to get me to care about any (and I mean ANY) of the characters. Take the character of the Dragon: initially painted as a grouchy, grumbly, angry, and secretive wizard, he ends the novel as a grouchy, grumbly, angry, and secretive wizard. There was literally no character development on his part; I still cannot understand why Agnieszka falls for him (because of course she falls for him) when he sounds like a miserable man. Which leads me to my second character complaint: Agnieszka is BORING. She follows a very typical fantasy/adventure heroine trajectory (“ordinary” girl realizes that she is anything but ordinary) but somehow I never ended up caring about her journey of self-discovery. The writing was mediocre, the descriptions of magic were confusing at best, and most of the characters fell for every instance of the Wood’s barely-concealed deception. All in all, I was happy when I finally got to the end of Uprooted.




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