Rating: Three out of five stars
TW: Mention of rape
I want to start this review by saying, I very much enjoyed this book. The story was the type of fantasy-adventure I love reading about. I did not want to put the book down and when I did, I was thinking about the next time I would pick it up again.
I docked two stars due to four reasons: a disconnect with the main character, minor sexism, minor grammar errors, and partially predictable circumstances and tropes. However, none of these factors were significant enough to deduct more than two stars. Each of these were minor annoyances that, when they came together, were equivalent to the loss of two stars.
I felt a disconnect with the main character, Jeff Powell. There was nothing special about him other than the fact that he was a writer. Clumsy, and not the brightest, I often found myself wondering how he survived his own adventure. But then again, this worked throughout the novel, showing how normal he truly was. I often found myself agreeing with the other characters whenever they remarked on Jeff’s lack of intelligence.
The book had many amazing female characters who all had their own personalities, and the world’s militia did not focus on gender. In these ways, this book was a great feminist read. The story did, however, include a traditional love triangle, which consisted of sexist elements – including the “getting the girl” trope and male rivalry. There were no major instances of sexism, however, so I considered this to be a minor issue.
One issue that I could not turn a blind eye to was a “romantic” instance of a kiss – the kind where the guy is about to put himself in mortal danger, so he kisses the woman he likes as a final goodbye. This is a trope in and of itself, and though it irritated me that (the man in question) kissed (woman in question) without permission, the main part that got under my skin was the quote immediately after the event:
“Against the warmth of her mouth, he rose above his anger and his fear, and for that one moment he had never been braver or surer of himself. He didn’t give (woman in question – no spoilers!) a chance to fight back or give in – not sure if he could handle knowing which she’d choose to do” (p. 260).
In the above quote, there are seven references to the man and two references to the woman. This kiss was obviously selfish and one-sided as the man only thought of himself as he kissed. Not to mention he “didn’t give (her) a chance to fight back or give in” – which gives off some pretty predatory vibes.
A few major tropes were present – most notably, deus ex machina and unexplained circumstances (How long can someone truly stay alive in a dungeon with an infection on the back of their neck? How do dungeon torches just turn on and off at convenient times? Would a victim of rape talk about the event so casually – even if the follow-up conversation tries to explain?) and characters “just happening” to be at the door right as other characters are talking about them, in which said character either discovers crucial information, or the situation carries the dialogue along. There was one scene in which about three characters enter the conversation in this way, one right after another – how do three characters “just happen” to be standing at the same door within minutes of one another in a large castle, when they supposedly had other stuff to do? This happened multiple times throughout the book. Other minor tropes were references to Alice in Wonderland and some predictable plot points.
The bad guy had no motivation for his own evil plans. This makes the character feel empty, like a plot device. Every character is a plot device in their own right, but characters have thoughts and feelings and motivations behind their decisions. The villain in this story just seemed to want some maniacal fun, without the side effects of being a psychopath.
One minor detail that bothered me was the repetition of the names – most of the names of the characters began with either J or C. This caused me to reread some sentences multiple times to remember who was who.
Throughout the book, there also minor spelling and sentence structure errors, which proved to be distracting. Some details also appeared to be inconsistent.
I know I seemed pretty negative about this book during this review, but I actually did enjoy it enough to purchase the next two books in the series, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the trilogy progresses. I found myself laughing and gasping along with the book, and the writing’s imagery was vivid. I want to read some more of the strong female characters – the sorceress, the warrior, and the black belt!
This review is also on Goodreads.
Picture from Goodreads.
As for the #ReadThemAllThon, I have finished the third book, winning the Marsh Badge! The Marsh Badge was for a book with fantasy or supernatural elements. I’d say a writer getting trapped in the world of his own story is pretty fantastical. Plus there were magic spells!
At 317 pages, my Eevee earned 31 CP! Add 20 for finishing the book, and another 20 for this review, for a total of 71! Add a few more points for various tweets (including the tweet that automatically posts with this blog), and…my Eevee evolved!!!
Since Evensong’s book cover has trees on it (and there were earthly themes within the book), it only makes sense for Eevee to evolve into Leafeon. What a cutie! Here is my updated Trainer Card!