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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A Book Haul of eBooks and Fairytales

A few weeks ago after I learned my free time would be severely limited as result of my new job, I decided to treat myself to some new books. As I was browsing for the books I would purchase, I realized one of the books of an author I was looking into was free in its Kindle edition for Amazon Prime members, so I downloaded some others I found that interested me as well.

In general, I’m fairly restrained when it comes to buying books, so I rarely get the chance to do a haul. Therefore, I decided to seize the day do one today (at long last)!

This book haul comes at a time when I’m kicking my writing into full gear, which is why I want to get my hands on everything that looks like it might inspire my own novel. Therefore, you’ll find that many of these books are in the genre(s) in which I want to write: fantasy.

Amazon Prime Free eBooks

 

Heist Society by Ally Carter. This book is the reason I began searching for what other eBooks were conveniently available for free download on Amazon Prime. I saw an interview where Leigh Bardugo recommended Carter’s work for anyone interested in heist books like Six of Crows. I’m skeptical (based on its cringe-y cover), but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised!

The Spy with No Name by Jeff Maysh. This book and author I’ve never heard of, but I like a good mystery and the intrigue of spies. Not sure when I’ll read this book, though, as there are so many amazing books I want to read right now. This one smells to me like one buffer book when I need something random to fill my time when I don’t feel like jumping into something super thought provoking.

Air Awakens by Elise Kova. The is the first book in a series I’ve seen talked about a lot in the book blogging community! I’ve intentionally kept myself in the dark as to what this book is about, but I’m happy to have the opportunity to finally see if this book, and series, is for me.

Fallout (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond. This book I’ve already DNF-ed. I didn’t have the highest of expectations for this book, but I did have an open mind as I’ve been eagerly anticipating Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman. This book very quickly lost me. I compared it to fan fiction on Goodreads, but honestly that’s unfair to fan fiction as I’ve read far better written fan-written stories with realistic, nuanced characters.

Thieving Forest by Martha Conway. This book, like most of the others on this list, is one that I know next to nothing about. I haven’t even reread the summary to remind myself why I decided to download it. I just saw the medal on it and decided to trust that distinction. Like The Spy with No Name, this is one I’ll probably save for when I’m between books and don’t know quite what I’m in the mood for.

Fairytale-Inspired Books

 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This is a book that has been on my radar for a long-time and the main reason I’ve put it off is I’m not a fan of the U.S. edition cover and the price of the hardback was too high for me. I was able to order it at a reasonable price in paperback and I feel like this book is coming to me at the perfect time as I just feel like this book will inspire my own writing.

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. This book was recommended by Leigh Bardugo in an interview I watched on YouTube in which she was asked what she recommended (redundant…leaving it anyway). I loved the summary so I decided to put it on my wishlist for a time like this when I wanted to treat myself.

What’s Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi. Because I’ve just been reading Mr. Fox, I’ve been reminded what a beautiful writer Oyeyemi is and I decided to finally spring for this anthology. I had put it off for the same reasons that I put off Uprooted for so long, but I’m excited to finally be able to read these short stories and, hopefully, have her magic rub off on me!

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. This book is not technically out yet, but it is a vanity purchase I made earlier this month. Many of the stories in this anthology are already available for free online, but I wanted to be able to put the pretty book to put on my shelves. I love Leigh Bardugo’s books and she is on my short list of authors whose books I will instantly purchase, which brings me to the final book in my haul…

&

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo! Ok, so this is not technically a fairytale, but the argument could be made that it is a similar kind of genre! Not that I’m a genre expert… I am not a big fan of Wonder Woman, as I did not grow up with any of her shows and have never been too impressed by “strong women” dressed in leotards. I’m not really a DC Comics fan either (based on my experience with their lame movies), but a lot of feminists I respect LOVE the character of Wonder Woman and I’m hoping this book will make me love her too! ^_^

End Note

I hope you enjoyed this post! I am not in the habit of doing a lot of book hauls, as I rarely buy/acquire enough books to warrant one. Another book that didn’t make this list because I won’t have it for a few more days is Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas, her latest Throne of Glass installment. It comes out early next month, so I’m excited even though it’s centered on Chaol, a character I’ve never really liked.

Today I’ve been working on my blog in between chores. You can expect to see a few more posts later this week as we head into September. Until then, let me know if you’ve read any of these books in the comments down below.

Thank you for reading!
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