My rating: 3 of 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased Paperback
Publication Date: May 2015
Publisher: Del Rey
Point of View: 1st Person Heroine
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
This was one I was expecting to love . . . but didn't. Some of the incredible world-building and a couple of breathtaking scenes made me bump it from a 2 star to a 3 star rating. But for the most part, alas, Uprooted just wasn't for me.
WHAT I LOVED
There were definitely things to love! Naomi Novik's writing, for instance, is vivid without being too purple prosy. She creates authentic settings and gives the reader just enough detail that we feel we are there, but never so much that it becomes exhausting to read. She doesn't go in for crazy annologies or similes. She writes strong, elegant, but ultimately understated prose that I very much appreciated.
Kasia, the heroine's best friend, was a great character. Often times the "best friend" character gets so overshadowed by the heroine as to not even be worth a mention, but in this case, Kasia's character and storyline was one of the highlights of the book. I fully expected her to be a throw-away pretty face, ultimately only serving as a means of making Agnieszka seem cooler than she is. But no! Kasia goes on a fascinating journey as a character, and I often kept turning the pages just to see what would happen to her.
The Wood and the whole concept of the Wood was a HUGE plus for me. I thought Naomi Novik handled its sentient menace brilliantly. It was one of the most frightening and effective villains I've seen in a long time! A truly original take on a classic theme. The scenes that took place in the Wood were FAR AND AWAY the most interesting in the book. I couldn't look away for any of those moments!
So one shining star for the writing. One shining star for Kasia. One shining star for the Wood. That's three!
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE SO MUCH
Oh, my gosh, did Agnieszka ever suffer from Special Snowflake Syndrome! Not once did she ever feel like a real character to me. She goes from bumbling to Utterly and Impossibly Awesome in the blink of an eye, and while I know Ms. Novik tried to give a sense of the transition . . . I just didn't feel it. Agnieszka was everything I find least interesting in a heroine (though, to give her credit, not ONCE did she bite her lip or squeal! So she's not everything I dislike . . .)
The Dragon/Sarkan. Oh man. I just hated him. I get that Ms. Novik was going for moody and mysterious, but he just came across as mean. And domineering. And demeaning. And horrible. And he never seemed to change! The love story between him and Agnieszka just made no sense to me at all . . . if you even want to call it a love story, which I don't. It kind of made me feel icky, I won't lie.
The pacing of this book was not great either. I skimmed large sections, and it still too me WAY longer to read than anything else I've read this month. The passages in the Wood were amazing, page-turning, and brilliant. Almost everything else was a slog. And the ending just took too long.
Anyway, I don't want to bash this book. It's obviously beloved by many, and honestly, I CAN see why! I certainly don't want to dismiss or demean any of you out there who thoroughly enjoyed this story. Maybe if I'd been in a different mood when I read it, or if I hadn't JUST read two books that I truly loved, I would have liked it better. But this one wasn't for me.
So that is my fourth book in my Beauty and the Beast Month. Going to try to fit two more in over the next week . . . We'll see if it's possible! I've got some travel coming up, which might mean more reading time (while on the plane) or less (while touring around Great Britain). We'll see. I hope to at least finish Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge before the end of the month, though.
Don't forget to sign up for my mailing list! I'll be giving away at least three print books to one lucky subscriber at the end of the month. That could mean you!!!