Raised in hiding until her nineteenth birthday, Kelsea Raleigh returns to the city to claim her place as queen. In order to avoid spoilers, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I’ve heard such good things about this book since it came out. I put the book on hold at my library this summer, and finally received a copy right before the RIP season. By then, I was more interested in my RIPish books, and put off reading this one. (I did try. I didn’t get through the first page, and that worried me a little, as I didn’t know if it was the timing or the book itself.) I grabbed the audiobook when I had the chance, and given my parenthetical worry, decided to try to listen to this one instead of read it in print form.
This time, the book captured my attention immediately. I didn’t know anything about the book going in, and didn’t know what to expect, so there were many surprises. I didn’t expect Kelsea to start making so many abrupt changes in the kingdom, leading to fallout. I had no idea that this book took place in a future version of our world, technology stripped away and magic discovered, rather than an entirely made up universe. These things both surprised and delighted me (I particularly enjoyed the archaic language in talking about the “seven volumes of Rowling” ha!).
In the end, though, the book didn’t make as much of an impression on me as I’d hoped. Honestly, I suspect that this has less to do with the story/writing and more to do with the audio production and the circumstances under which I listened to it.
At first, I enjoyed the performance by narrator Katherine Kellgren. She set the tone perfectly. Right around the first major battle, however, that went a little sour for me. The actions scenes were read a lot louder and higher-pitched than the rest of the book, increasingly so as the scene progressed. I was reminded a bit of the audio performance of Lyra’s part in The Golden Compass, which I really disliked. The difference in action and non-action speaking volume was so great that as I listened, I had to keep adjusting the volume on my headphones up and down every few minutes. Considering I listened to 2/3rds of the book on a flight down to San Antonio, and the last third on a flight back up to the Boston area, this constant volume-fidgeting was really irritating.
Beyond the volume unevenness, there was just the timing. As I said before, I split the listening up between two days, about a week apart. The audiobook is twelve disks long, and the giant chunks of time I spent listening on flights – my own fault – meant that I took in too much of the book in one day, followed by a week without listening, followed by all the rest being too much in one day as well. I imagine I would have liked the book and audio performance better had I spread it out, and not listened to it all on an airplane…
Still, the audio production wasn’t my favorite, and while I do plan to read the next volume of this series, I think I’ll do so in print next time. I really loved many of the characters in the book, plus the very strange future-past-ish setting, and I think this series has potential to become something I really love going forward.
Also: I love that Emma Watson will apparently be playing Kelsea in the movie version. Fantastic choice. I can’t wait to see that!
I read it and was excited, and then I read a review that was critical, and I agreed with all the faults she found. Sigh. It’s not a perfect book, but I did really enjoy the reading. It hasn’t stuck with me vividly, but I do still remember it however many months later, which is not always the case.
I’m sure I’d agree with a critical review as well. I did have a lot of mixed feelings, though as I said here, some of them I know come from the way the audio was performed (other things than I mentioned as well). But I did like it, and I think it will make an excellent movie, and I’m excited to see where Johansen goes with it.
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This is one of my favorites of 2014. I had no idea what to expect going into it, and you touched on all of my favorite elements. I say kudos for attempting it via audio. There is so much going on that for me, this would be a no-go via audio. I’m sure you will the sequel in print much more!
For some reason it didn’t feel like tons going on with the audio. It was very straightforward, and well done in that way. But I AM looking forward to the print sequel!
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