This month I read three books, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan, and The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater.
I DNF-ed (did not finish) Uprooted when I first tried to read it a couple years ago. If you’re even slightly involved in the YA-lit community then this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard of this book. It sounded great when I first picked up, its full of magic and a deadly forest filled with dangerous creatures, but for some reason, I lost interest on my first read. I wanted to love it so much. I know so many people who love Novik’s work, but I just couldn’t get into it.
I now know why. Mid-book there is a big change in setting and characters. Though some people may find this change a fun twist, I found it disorienting. I was never able to quite adapt to the change.
Novik also, in my opinion, included too many forms of magic in her world. Though there aren’t many rules to writing, in my opinion, fantasy writers should only include one type of magic. If there are too many magical resources avialable then there aren’t any real challenges for the protagonist. When everything is easy and readily available to the protagonist, then the story isn’t interesting.
I gave Uprooted three stars on Goodreads. I didn’t hate it. I thought there were some really creative magical creatures and objects, but I just didn’t connect with the story or characters as much as I hoped.
2. China Rich Girlfriend:
China Rich Girlfriend is the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, which has recently been adapted to film. (Side note: if you haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s worth seeing at least twice! There’s one scene that is so beautiful it made me cry– you’ll know it when you see it.) Crazy Rich Asians follows Rachel, a Chinese-American woman, who discovers her college boyfriend, Nick, is part of a high profile family in Singapore. Unfortuenly, she is not accepted warmly into the family. The novel follows the lives of Rachel, Nick, and Nick’s family members. This is unlike the movie that focuses on Rachel and Nick’s relationship.
I was a little hesitant when I first started the sequel as I am with many sequels. The first one was soo good that I was afraid of being disappointed, but that is not the case for China Rich Girlfriend. Somehow Kwan managed to make this book filled with more wealth and deception than the first novel. He also takes a character, I won’t spoil anything, that I didn’t care for in the first book and made her redeemable.
There are two characters, in particular, Collete and Carlton, that stole my heart. They’re both broken, superficial, and unbelievably kind. I love that Kwan can take seemingly stereotypical characters and make them so deep and unique. Kwan manages to devel readers into the lives and minds of so many characters in this way. These stories are just so fun and in-depth. They’re definitely worth reading if you’ve been on the edge about them.
3. The Raven King:
My heart! I’m so sad to be finished with The Raven Cycle. Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favorite authors. I’ve fallen in love with every story she’s ever told. This series, in particular, felt so whimsical in an offbeat sort of way. A book that reminds me of this series is Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. Blue is the protagonist who lives in a house full of female fortune tellers and befriends a group of boys from the local private school who are searching for a mythical, dead king. The logline of this series is that Blue has been foretold that if she kisses her true love, he will die.
The Raven King is the last in a four book series. I’ve been reading this series for years, but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. This month I finally went for it and cried my way through it.
This is another book that follows many characters, Blue (the female protagonist), Gansey, Noah, Ronan, and Adam. Stiefvater has a gift with characters. They each have rich pasts, quirks, and secrets. Each of them grows and reveal more about themselves as the story progresses. This is one series that was not made into four books just because, this story took four books to cover the material and achieve the Raven Boys’ goal.
I don’t know Stiefvater personally, but I have met her twice in person, and I have to say that these books seem like they pure Maggie. She’s hilarious to meet in person, by the way. If you get the chance to go to one of her signings, I would recommend it.
This series is definitely one of my favorite series, and it’s my go-to series to recommend people. Do yourself a favor and pick it up!
Well, that’s all for this month. Thank you for reading! Let me know if you pick up any of these books. I’d love to discuss them with you in the comments below.