Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Published: May 19th 2015 by Del Rey
Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: Fantsay, Young Adult, Adult, Magic.
Source: Purchased from Book Depository
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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.
I’m conflicted. The reason it has taken so long for me to write up this review is because I’m torn. There were parts of this book that I really loved. However, I felt that there was this disconnection at times and that prevented me from falling head over heels for this book.
What I Liked
Agnieszka: a girl that loves her home, her family and her best friend. She’s practical but very accident prone. Growing up in Dvernik, she had never anticipated the possibility that she would be the one chosen by the Dragon and taken away from everything she’s ever known. During her time with the Dragon, a magic within her reveals itself and with the combination of the Dragon’s training, her natural instincts and a lot of trials and errors, Agnieszka hones in this new ability and uses it to help stop the threat that sets to destroy everything she know and loves.
Dragon: It took me a while to warm up to the Dragon. On the surface he seems to be cold, methodical and sees Agnieszka as a nuisance. He doesn’t have the best reputation as he has essentially shut himself off from the world. However, throughout the book we get to see glimpses into the kind of man he really is; a man that has grown tired of playing the role that society expects of him. I loved getting to explore his character.
The Wood: The writing in this book is absolutely stunning and this is best seen in the characterisation of The Wood. Essentially the wood is a character in its own. It is a formidable force and looks to corrupt those who cross’ paths with it. Once you’re caught, you can’t get out. I loved the writing of the Wood. You really feel the darkness and the corruption that spills from it. It’s menacing and is always lurking in the background. The atmosphere created when reading about The Wood was chilling.
Friendship: I’d say the main relationship in the book is the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia. Despite the fact that they have been living on borrowed time; these two have a bond that runs so deep that they would do anything for each other. However, that does not mean that they are immune to feelings of resentment but even those feelings can’t break the bonds of friendship. Kasia also has a prominent role within the story and I like getting to explore her character.
Romance: There’s not a lot of emphasis on the romance. However, the moments we do get are tantalizing. Agnieszka and the Dragon are opposites in a lot of ways but when they come together and combine their magical skills they create a connection that is simply breathtaking. The chemistry between them was undeniable.
What I Didn’t Like
The Writing: While I found the writing to be very beautiful, I also found that it dragged a bit. The descriptions of the wood, the magic and the world in general were very atmospheric. However, I did find that sometimes the descriptions were too long and dragged a bit which in turn halted the pace of the book. You’d find that in a scene built with tension, the descriptive nature of the writing would sometimes take away from that tension and this sense of danger and anticipation.
Romance: As I said, the romance between the Dragon and Agneiszka was not a vocal point of the story. However, I do feel like it could have benefited from more of build up. We essentially have two definitive romantic moments that were both full of passion. However, I felt like there could have been more; maybe a subtle hint or two about their connection instead of giving us these moments and then move the focus onto the wider plot without any further mention of what transpired between them.
I think the writing is what has me torn. The book is stunning and has a fascinating plot and characters. However, the overly descriptive nature of the writing lost me at times and in turn made me feel a bit disconnected from the story.