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Monday, December 14, 2015

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Image and blurb from Goodreads:

“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.


My thoughts:

4.5 "Creepy and sometimes hot fairy tale" STARS.

How far are you willing to go to save your best friend?

That’s the question Uprooted will answer. At least, that’s what I felt Agnieszka’s story was really about.
Although the blurb hinted at this being a story about friends sticking together, I kind of ignored it and went in with the illusion it’d be more of a Beauty and the Beast romance. There’s a bit of kissing there (and more), but the heart of the story is magic and friendship. And a lot of creepy creatures.

Uprooted has been labeled as Young Adult fantasy, but I’m not sure I agree with that. Sure Agnieszka is introduced as a teenage girl, but her level of maturity (and the story’s) leads me to believe this would fit better in the adult category. Let’s just say the sexy scenes aren’t the usual “fade to black” kind. Not that this is unprecedented, but it isn’t highly common either. Either way, I’m not complaining!!!! Hot, hot, hot!

But YA or Adult, this is the story of a girl who’s willing to do anything in her power to make sure the people she loves – especially her best friend, Kasia, survives the dark powers of the mystical being that threatens her village – the Woods. And Agnieszka’s power is much bigger than she suspected. After all, she’s a damn witch.
Yep, people, she’s a witch and she had no idea. She didn’t give a crap about being a witch until she realized her powers could help other people. How can you not love that, huh? I did. Agnieszka (besides having a really crappy name) was a great main character. She was so clumsy, she put me to shame; but she was also strong, determined and flawed.

That’s one thing I have to complement Novik on: writing flawed characters. She didn’t take it lightly. Sure Agnieszka’s inability to stay clean and tidy was a flaw (one that made me laugh so many times), but Novik dug deeper than that. She took the heart of the story - Agnieszka and Kasia’s friendship – and showed us that although the girls loved each other and risked their lives to save each other, they also resented each other just a bit.  Just for a moment. Or a few months. Or their whole lives. Depends on your interpretation. Point was, they did, and that didn’t make them less important to one another. That didn’t stop Agnieszka from doing dangerous thing after dangerous thing to guarantee Kasia’s safety. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Because we’re flawed. We’re capable of loving the ones we’re jealous of. We’re capable of more than one feeling. I’m glad Novik understood and chose to show that.

Maybe the Dragon, the hero who isn’t really one, is one of the most flawed after all.

From the blurb you know the Dragon takes one girl from the villages every ten years and she’ll stay with him until he chooses the next one. This time, the girl was Agnieszka, and he was the one who discovered she had magic in her. According to the King’s law, he had to teach her how to use it. Man, he didn’t want to do that. He really, really didn’t want to teach Agnieszka anything, because he didn’t really like the poor girl. For someone as methodical as the Dragon, looking at the walking mess that was Agnieszka was clearly painful. But you know where it lead, right? Kissing. Hot, hot kissing. THANK YOU! Because I have to be honest, the lack of romance was a bit disappointing because of my early expectation to read another B&B retelling.

Simply because I started reading Uprooted with a different concept in mind – a concept that was reinforced by the first few chapters, heavy on the “Agnieszka + the Dragon” interaction (and my heart always wants more), I ended up feeling a bit disconnected with the second half of the story , that was more focused on the magic stuff. But it was still a fantastic read. Fantastic. You won’t regret reading it.


While reading:

I'm like 10% in and I know, I know this book will blow me away. My feels. My heart. Why do I have to work when all I want is to read this? Life is so unfair.

I'm 52% done with Uprooted: Nooooo. Where is she going without him???? *cries*

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