Book Review: Uprooted

Posted August 27, 2015 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 10 Comments

Book Review: UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Ray on May 19th 2015
Genres: young adult, fantasy
Pages: 438
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

“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.

Once again, I picked up another novel when the tides of hype turned and actually sold the book, instead of chasing me away from it. I’ve been burned by so many books that had 5 to 4 star ratings filling the pages. Yes, I know it is okay to dislike a popular novel. But it still doesn’t mean I enjoy being the black sheep of the group.
But when the right things are said, and when the people you use as your book thermometer tell you that the water is perfect, you’re going to want to dive in. Uprooted is another book this year that I grabbed because there was so much love and outstanding praise for the book that it actually caught my interest.

Border Leaf
Uprooted’s hype was worth every drop of enthusiasm that plagued my feed over the last few months.
The novel is more of an epic tome instead of a linear cause-and-effect novel. The book was less like a song and more like a rock opera. The storyline starts out in the rational manner: pretty, talented friend, country bumpkin main character, small quaint village on the edge of danger, and an imposing, powerful wizard that whisks away young girls with magic every 10 years. I was a bit put out because for the first third of the novel, I kept thinking how common the storyline was. Everyone was screaming that this book was different. How was this different? I can go pull off three other books right off the bat that have this same plot.

However, even if it was redundant, it was still entertaining.
Then the book said, “Okay, are we done with the formula for high fantasy YA novel? Because we’re about to party!” And the book went forth and did indeed party.


After the common opener, the book takes a sharp turn away from the expected and starts to meander into becoming bigger and better. The author starts to take chances. The buildup is slow, and it isn’t instantly known where the story is going to go for some time. If most high fantasies are pans for frying, this book is the slow cooker. The storyline now starts leading that impossible name towards bigger goals and different adventures than the one she originally embarked upon. During the next third, the author now sets up the bigger picture, and the magic of the world is explored. Agnieszka holds a different kind of power, and while this is run of the mill, the story is more interested in combining old wisdom and knowledge with the new magic that is presented forth. The two main characters are fortified and becoming something more. The author gives her characters life and fleshes them out to become more than their stereotypes. One of my favorite arcs of the story centers around the “Girl That Should Have Been.” The story didn’t just use her to the extent of her role and toss her to the side. Kasia breaks the sad old traditional role of “pretty but second fiddle BFF” and steps into the story. Why does the pretty, sweet, popular girl get jilted? These girls are just as valid and capable as the awkward, endearing main character. Thank you, Novik, for equal opportunities for girls, because we each all have a story.
There is romance in this novel, but it isn’t the reason for the book. It gives you enough to tease you, to keep you coming back, holding your breath for more. Look, I am not usually the romance fan here, but I swear, I was insanely crazy for the slow building, beautiful, slightly soul-crushing romance. I ship this so hard that I swear I might have turned into a pirate at one point.


The world building is also lovely. There are quite a bit of moving parts in the book, and indirectly, all of the threads come together loosely to create a heart wrenching, shockingly painful conclusion, an ending with a bittersweet happiness. Everything isn’t magically “righted” at the end. There is fall out of the events in the novel, and each person has to move forward to continue onward. Sometimes, I need my sweet, sparkling little stories. But it wouldn’t have worked for this novel. This was made of tougher stuff, and while it made the arc splendid and magical, the grittiness was needed to make this novel mean something by the end. Even if that “something” is: Life goes on. Right the wrongs, and even one small person can heal the wounds of the past.

words_overall


I was certain that I was going to like this book, but I never expected to fall head over heels, heart in a blender, change my Facebook status to “In a Relationship with Uprooted”. This book gave me so much that I have been seeking in a fantasy, hell, any, novel. Bottom line: I loved it. Go read this book. Go love this book. Go have your heart broken and your insides stabbed, and love every moment of it.

Lyn Sig Plant

 

BONUS MATERIAL!

You are all in for a special treat! I don’t often do this, but I did a CASTING!

The Dragon

Go back and reread it in his voice. I swear, this novel went up a notch when I started this little game.

Agnieszka

I just kept picturing her. Yeah, her beauty isn’t realized right off the bat, but Maisie’s energy and enthusiasm instantly flooded my mind when I was reading this one.

Kasia

Blonde, beautiful, and edgy enough to play the “pretty girl gone hero”.

10 responses to “Book Review: Uprooted

  1. I’m so glad you liked this!!! I am not a fan of romance either, but boy, did I want them together… Also, I love your casting! I never do those things, but there are times where our fangirling goes to anotehr level. 😉
    Vane recently posted…Review: Survive The NightMy Profile

    • Right??! That first kiss just made me scream, and I had to put the book down just to make sure I wouldn’t keep screaming.

      I’m not good at casting, because there is not a large range of actors/actresses I like, but for this book, it just CLICKED in my head from the start.
      Lyn Kaye recently posted…Garden Gazette: August Wrap UpMy Profile

  2. It makes me so happy to see that you love this, Lyn! I’m 50% into it and have paused for a while because of its dense-ness but it really is such an amazingly written novel that completely immerses you. I haven’t got to the rock opera part of it yet, but I’m stoked!
    Faye la Patata recently posted…Review: Shadows by Paula WestonMy Profile

    • Right??! I was so afraid I was going to dislike it or be let down, but this book proved that sometimes the hype is WORTH it. THis book earned its bragging rights!

      Yeah, the age difference is a bit of a problem now. I think I was aiming for the voice for Rickman. Mmmmmmmmm.
      Lyn Kaye recently posted…Story Sprites: One Month Left!My Profile

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