Title / Uprooted
Author / Naomi Novik
Publication Date / 2015
Star Rating / ★★
Goodreads synopsis: 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, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood’s powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost 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 no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.
From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.
I have to start of this review by saying that I am one of the people that wasn’t a fan of this book – you can probably tell from the star rating. I had high hopes for this book but it was not my thing. Before I fully start my review, I just wanted to stat the obvious by saying how stunning the covers are, especially the UK cover. Anyway back to the actual review. One of my main issues with this book was the lack of character development. By the end of the book I felt like none of the characters had progressed or grown in any way. I didn’t really care about any of the characters and found quite a few of them pretty frustrating. I especially found Agnieszka’s best friend (Kasia), as well as their friendship, extremely annoying. Normally, I am a huge fan of female friendships, but there was something about this one that really didn’t work for me. I found Kasia to be pretty underdeveloped and she just seemed to be there as a way to further the plot. The one thing that sticks about Kasia is that she is described as beautiful. I wanted more depth to the characters. Another relationship I wasn’t a fan of was the romance between Agnieszka and the Dragon. It didn’t make sense to me – I felt like there was no chemistry between them. Also the Dragon is a dick and is abusive to the main character. To me that does not constitute a romance. I mean can you seriously please stop calling her an idiot or whatever hurtful word you use. The secondary characters all kind of merged into one. The characters definitely had potential, I think, but they just did not work for me.
One positive was the setting. I loved the setting of this dark wood/forest that is slowly taking over. I thought it was such a great, creepy and interesting setting that was not used to it’s full potential. The world building could have been done better, in my opinion. Like the characters, it needed more depth. I would love to know more about the politics, history and more about the mysterious forest/wood. The plot seemed a bit confused at times and the pacing is uneven throughout. It starts out really slow and doesn’t speed up until the end, although it did seem to try to pick up the pace a few times throughout the book. Another big issue that I had with this book was the magic system. In a book such as this where the magic system is an important element, you need a well established magic system. However what we get is a confused, muddled magic system that doesn’t make any sense. I found this book tedious to get through. It is not a particularly long book (compared with other fantasy books I’ve read), but I struggled though it. I found it a very slow read, which is not helped by the heavily descriptive writing style.
Overall, I think you can tell that this was not my thing. It really did not work for me. The lack of character development and the magic system were my two biggest issues. Don’t let me stop you reading it though, as alot of people have loved this book. I am definitely in the minority – I do not understand the hype around this book. Let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought of it. I hope you are all having a great day and I will see you next time.