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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Release & Review - The Reader by Traci Chee

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: The Reader
(Sea of Ink and Gold #1)
Author: Traci Chee
Publication date: September 13th, 2016
Category/Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.

Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

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2.5 “Books and Magic” Stars

I really wanted to love this book. Seriously. This is a book about books and magic, so I obviously wanted to love it. I believed I’d love it, even as I read mixed reviews saying how slow it was. I thought it couldn’t be that slow, right?


It was so, so slow.

I’d be lying if I said the story didn’t intrigue me. It did. It started out interesting enough to hold my attention for a good portion of it. I wanted to follow the MC, Sefia, and see where she was going and what she was doing. I was intrigued by Nin, who seemed like this super woman who could pick locks and run away from the authorities and keep a child safe. I was intrigued by the book Sefia carried with her everywhere, not letting anyone see it. I wanted to know why the bad guys were after Nin and Sefia; why they’d killed Sefia’s parents and were searching for the book. As you can see, the author did a good job making me interested.

Unfortunately, she failed in keeping me that way.

I blame it on the pacing. Completely. I can’t complain about the writing because it’s beautiful (according to the Acknowledgments, the author and Renee Ahdieh are friends, and you know how much I love Renee’s writing, so it only seems fitting that this author also knows how to write pretty books). I also can’t complain about the premise. And while the MC wasn’t all that distinctive (Sefia lacked something that made her special and different from all the YA Fantasy protagonists out there), I liked Archer and Nin enough. The thing that really let me down was how slow things moved.

Sefia spent so much time alone in the forest with the book, then doing God knows what that I was probably as bored as she was. We’d get a chapter here and there with someone else’s POV, but as much as it tried to bring something different to the table, I often ended up questioning the importance of those subplots. Things didn’t start getting interesting again until Archer, the LI and Sefia’s partner in crime, came into the picture.

When I was first introduced to him, I wanted to know more about Archer; the boy who fought and killed like a trained assassin; the one who couldn’t speak. Yet, again, all that info I seriously wanted didn’t come fast enough. Archer and Sefia went back to walking around and trying to come up with a plan, and… I was bored again. It didn’t help that Archer couldn’t speak, so we didn’t have as many dialogues as I would’ve liked. I’m a dialogue-girl. Don’t blame me.

Bottom line, the book moved way too slowly to keep my attention. I can see the promise there. The writing was already there. But if you can’t keep me interested, then what’s the point?

I also had a few problems with plot choices. The whole thing with Sefia learning to read on her own? Not credible at all. Not when she lives in a society that doesn’t know how to write and read. When the Greek alphabet isn’t part of her daily life. And the whole “her mother spelled her name to her when she was, like, six?” Not enough to convince me she had learned all the alphabet, memorized it and put it to use many years later in a matter of days/weeks? It just required a much bigger suspension of disbelief than I had in me to give at that moment. Maybe if the story had moved faster, I could’ve forgotten about it and let it go, but since we spent so much time with Sefia reading, that was pretty much all I could think about.

Overall, this book has the kind of premise and writing that will get you engaged. If it’ll keep you that way it’s up to how slow you like your story to progress. I like mine faster than this.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

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