I’ve written this review for weeks now and did not plan to post it on the blog as I’ve said I would not write reviews for books I would rate less than three stars.
After debating a long time I decided to post it. Not because I want to bash the author because I remain convinced she is an insanely talented writer and I will read other books she’ll write in a heartbeat. But because I wanted to be true to myself and be honest with other readers.
Truth be told, I’ve been so “harsh” on this book because I worshipped the first books in her series and so it hurt me in my flesh, bones and soul. If that’s not a testimony to this author’s talent I don’t know what would be.
So after this long introduction, here I go, my uncensored (but I hope still enlighting and positive in some way) personal opinion. Feel free to disagree with me wholeheartedly.
♠ My Thoughts ♠
Just know that I gave 5 stars to the other books of this trilogy, so:
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH ERIKA JOHANSEN??????
If you follow me usually you must know by now that I always try to be constructive in my reviews. Even when I did not like a book. Fortunately it does not happen often. Either I’m pretty easy to please either I choose my reads wisely, take your pick.
But right now, I’m so fuming mad it will be really difficult to tame my anger and try to write something that could be useful for the readers and the author. Even if it’s highly unlikely she would read my review.
Why do I write this review then? Because I loved the first two books so much that I just feel betrayed by the author and need to vent my frustration.
I loved the first 70% of the book. We went back and forth between present (Kelsea at the hands of the Red Queen waiting in her dungeon) and past. No longer with Lily but with a young girl Katie. Little by little we learn about William Tear, his utopia, his family, his town. How dissent slowly grew in this small community. I found Katie interesting and was happy to know more about the Tearling’s origins.
There was so much in the book about past mistakes, lessons to learn, how humans maybe aren’t meant to live equals, how the better intentions can lead to disastrous consequences how…it was just too much, too dense!
I had sometimes to read sentences and passages twice and yet I did not understand everything. Maybe I’m not smart enough. It was like the author tried to cram as much topics, concepts, conflicting emotions and characters as was possible. It just did not work at all.
Now I want to be constructive, give some advice and explain what did not work at all for me personally:
–don’t make your story so convoluted it becomes unbelievable. The “genre” was so far from the first two books some passages in the last 30% were worthy of a horror book. And I don’t like horror stories. Just to illustrate: the way Kelsea chose to “use” Katie in the last scenes was just grotesque. Sorry to say it plain and simple but I did not recognize the story at all.
–don’t write scenes staging your characters behaving erratically, so far from who they are that your reader does not recognize them. Stay true to them especially if it does not serve any purpose in the story. The scene between Katie and Finn in the woods at the Autumn festival was just poorly executed. It just came so “out of the blue” and was not Katie at all. It was short barely a blink and I can still not fathom its purpose. If it was to distract her it could have been achieved by a simple dance. The same can be said for the scene between Jonathan and Katie under the church. Nothing led us to expect it. It was just cold clinical and…
–don’t make some characters we came to love either die if it’s not absolutely essential or let them achieve their whole purpose and destiny. I’m speaking about a girl I came to love and thought was meant to achieve something exceptional but…no;
–don’t bash your characters or paint them in grey light gratuitously just to disappoint us. I know people come in shades of grey. I usually do prefer nuances in my characters but…Learning about The Mace’s past, how he behaved under Kelsea’s mother reign greatly disappointed me and did not add anything to the plot. The same could be said of Pen. He was mopping in the beginning and I just wanted to slap him. Then suddenly he changed his mind. Kelsea and Pen shook hands and wham, bam, madam it was set and done as if no feelings ever existed between them. Sorry but you can’t just turn a switch and stop your feelings. I don’t buy it.
–if you write in crescendo with a real appalling gory frenzy by the end don’t stop with something so anticlimactic. It just feels like “much ado about nothing” and I just want more.
OK I stop here.
To sum it up: read the first two books, stay true to your characters, to your story and don’t become so elated as to write something your readers will never recognize and understand.
And I don’t take gloves to write this review because I just loved your story so much I just feel betrayed. In itself it’s a praise to your work because you made me feel so much for your characters and plot it just hurt me in the flesh to read this.
You can consider me arrogant as I’ve never written a single book in my life and yet here I am giving advices. You would be right. But on the other hand I’ve read more than 10.000 books in my life, done several beta reads so far and I know my own mind, my likes and my dislikes. I don’t write reviews to praise authors but to be honest and help other readers expressing my own personal opinion. Now, just sue me.
Will I stop reading Erika Johansen’s books? Certainly not as she’s previously proven she can achieve greatness.