Wednesday, May 20, 2015 20:20

Review 227. Naomi Novik – Uprooted.

22544764Title: Uprooted.25068467
Author: Naomi Novik.
Pages: 448.
Published: May 21st 2015 by Macmillan
Sort: Stand-alone.
Source: From the publisher on Netgalley, thanks!
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.
Rating:

“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.”

This story is a perfect blend of several folktales and Beauty and the beast. I was highly entertained by Agnieszka and the creepy Wood that is starting to get more powerful by the day. Despite some minor issues, I fell in love with the writing-style, plot and characters.

Every 10 year the Dragon comes down to the village in the valley to claim another girl. Nobody knows what happens to them, but they never return the same: they are ’wild’ and educated, ready to see the world instead of settling down like the rest of them. Everyone knows Kasia will be taken next, best friend from Agnieszka. Imagine her surprise when the Dragon takes her.

He is not at all what she expected, and to be honest also not what I thought. The Dragon is an attractive guy who wants to teach Agnieszka how to use her new discovered magic, instead of a fire-breathing creature. The two of them have to work together against the power of the Wood before it swallows the whole country in it’s wickedness.

Agnieszka was delightful. Forget about perfect, beautiful girls and welcome her in your life. She is clumsy and nothing special. She always trips, she can’t keep her clothes clean and trouble seems to be attached to her. Her appearance are never written down as noteworthy and I loved her unruly hair and ordinary looks. She has a strong spirit, quick mind and despite her shyness knows how to stand up for herself in times of need. It was fun to see her grow into her power and to discover she has her own kind of magic.

The Dragon is a mysterious, insulting guy who has no patience for Agnieszka and all the trouble she gives him. He always snaps at her, but underneath that is someone who is clearly worried about his people. His perfectionism stands in his way and I laughed because of his struggle when it comes to his feelings for Agnieszka. The only problem I had was the fact he felt really distant to me. I wish I got to see more of his emotions, which made me romance a little bland. They had chemistry, but it could have used some extra spark. On the other hand, there is one steamy scene that showed promise. I just wish there was more so that I would have shipped them harder.

The plot is interesting and has a rather creepy setting. It was very vivid and detailed, without being too overly descriptive. There is the Woods, a place where monsters roam around, ready to snatch people away. When someone gets in contact with the Woods they turn corruptive and they will kill everyone in their way. I loved the plot around this place and how Agnieszka is willing to sacrifice herself to save her friend Kasia when she has been taken. It could have used more pace every now and then, but I was captivated by the writing-style and the question: what will happen next?

The last thing I want to address is the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasie. It was wonderful. These girls support each other no matter what. There is a healthy amount of jealousy between them, which made it realistic, and I love how their friendship is featured throughout the story. It made me appreciate Agnieszka even more and Kasia herself is a pretty interesting character as well.

Do you like folklore? Do you like dark settings and grim fairytales? This is definitely a book for you.
author image

Mel@thedailyprophecy

Mel is a microbiology technician who is obsessed with Disney, fairytale retellings and fantasy. If she's not reading or blogging, she's either busy with gaming, hanging out with family or watching a TV show. She loves summer and bright nail polish. One of her dreams is to travel the world. She has found her Prince Charming and they are together for 7+ years.

24 comments:

  1. Oooh, super excited for this one! Especially for that friendship. I know friendship is definitely featured a lot in YA but it rarely feels authentic or healthy.

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    1. Agreed, I always appreciate it when there is a normal friendship in a story :)

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  2. Nice review! I just started this one and am already pleasantly surprised by the plot. I'm glad to see it stays strong throughout--though I'm curious to see how the romance develops, given how brusque the Dragon is when Agnieszka first comes to the tower. Honestly, as long as the rest of the plot is strong, the lukewarm romance doesn't bother me so much.

    C.J.
    Sarcasm & Lemons

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    1. True. I'm also someone who doesn't really need romance. The rest of the book was good enough to handle the weaker romance :)

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  3. Darn, it sounds like I should have bought it at the book store where I spotted it last week then!

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    1. Definitely! And the cover is gorgeous too :D

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  4. Yay :D Amazing review Mel. <3 I'm oh so happy that you loved this book. Sigh. It looks so pretty :D Just waiting for my copy that I won from you to arrive. <3 I cannot wait. So excited for this book :) I hope I'll love it too. You make it seem so amazing. Sigh. But aw, I'm sorry you weren't fully sold on the romance. Hmph. Now I'm already wishing there was more of it, lol :) But glad there was some at least. <3 Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it sweetie :)

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    1. I'm happy it arrived safely (although a little damaged)

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  5. Oh man, I SO NEED this book in my hands, like now! All of the positive reviews are really getting to me, but since fairytale retellings are your speciality, your review is even more convincing to me. I WILL LOVE this book, I just know it now :D The characters sound wonderful, though it's a shame that the Dragon felt a bit distant to you. I love the sound of the creepy forest, the romance and the friendship at play here^^ All in all this sounds like my kind of book! LOVED your review for it Mel ♥

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  6. I'm reading this now and I'm also loving how the main character's imperfect. :) I remember the Dragon describing her as "horse-faced" at some point, haha. Her clumsiness is also really endearing. :) I'm also getting the I-need-more vibe from the romance. The best part of this book so far is definitely the Wood, though. <3

    Fantastic review, Mel! <3

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    1. Haha, yes, that made me laugh. I don't think I've ever had a main character described that way, so refreshing.

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  7. I have this on hold at the library, and cannot wait to get my hands on it! This sounds like such an amazing and well-written tale and I love the sound of the creepy, fairy-tale like atmosphere. Thanks for sharing this and for getting me excited about it! ♥ Wonderful review Mel!

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  8. I loved Agnieszka, too, you summed her up perfectly. I was afraid she'd be a cliche of a girl who says she's clumsy and ordinary but is really pretty (which is quite common in YA, I think!) but she was so original.
    Ha, I actually liked that Sarkan was so uptight and socially awkward - it seems in character that he didn't tell Agnieszka about his feelings. :)
    And yes, Kasia and Agnieszka's relationship definitely made this book for me!

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    1. Yes, she could easily have been one of those characters who think they are ordinary, but in real life are gorgeous. She is truly 'just' ordinary. So refreshing :)

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  9. I actually really loved this novel, it's complex fantasy and it's pretty fantastic. I thought there was a balance with the romance and the actual plot, it's soo good, and it gives off the Beauty & the Beast vibe. Lovely review Mel<3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. Beauty and the beast is definitely present :D

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  10. Oh wow, I definitely need this book. Dragons?! Folklore?! Friendship? Grimness?!! THIS IS FOR ME. I think I've heard of it before, but I'm off to goodreads to make sure I've got it added. (There needs to be like a "really want to read" option as well. xD)

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  11. THIS SOUNDS SO MUCH LIKE A ME BOOK I CANNOT WAIT TO HAVE IT IN MY HANDS. This WILL be my next book purchase. I cannot wait. AND THAT COVER! So glad you loved it Mel!

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  12. I just finished Uprooted last night, and I also loved the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia. I also loved how strong a character Agnieszka was and how she was the one leading the romance and taking charge. That's so rare to see! I like your description of Agnieszka - she really was delightful. :)

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  13. I really want to read this one now! I just keep seeing great review after great review. And I do like fairytale retellings, so...

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  14. Great review, Mel! I'm looking forward to reading this one. I do wish the romance had a bit more spark for you, so that makes me nervous, but everything else sounds great.

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  15. Oh my goodness, I've heard nothing but amazing things about this one and your review has just pushed me over the edge -- Uprooted WILL be the next book that I'll buy. I absolutely LOVE a good fantasy, so I'm sure I'll adore this one as well. Great review, Mel! :)

    Em @ Books & Cleverness

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