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Thursday, 28 May 2015
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!
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, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood's powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost 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 no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.
I know you guys are going to be really annoyed right now that I've not done my own synopsis and given you more information on the plot, but honestly, if I did, it would ruin the book for you. When you start reading you're immediately sucked in to the story and the world, and it took me a couple of pages to realize I was going to love this book and it was going to become one of my favourites. It deserves every single bit of hype it gets and I'm usually wary of super hyped books! Which is why I wasn't entirely sure what to expect with this.
I started to read, and I was loving it but I was wondering where this was going to go....and then it blew me away with the entire rest of the story. I read this in one sitting because I was absolutely enchanted with the world and the characters. I really want to regale you all with the entire plot, but the synopsis is vague for a reason, so I will just fangirl to myself!
The world is so incredibly well built, sucking you in and keeping you enmeshed there with the characters as you read, it was so vivid and atmospheric you couldn't help but be totally engrossed in it and thus totally engrossed in the world. This book was a bit darker than I think I was expecting, and the atmosphere really lent itself to that, you could feel the malevolence of the Wood, feel the darkness floating through the air. It was truly brilliant.
There where lots of descriptions, beautiful descriptions but they where also not overly done, so you weren't slogging through pages and pages of description. Just enough to help you visualise everything that's going on, where it's going on and picture the characters so well that they pretty much come to life right out of the book. At the same time, this book is incredibly entertaining, and one you'd read again and again. I got so much enjoyment out of this book and I will again and again. It truly is a fairytale, albeit a darker one.
There's a subtle romance to the story that adds to the entertainment and it reminded me a bit of Beauty and the Beast in the beginning, he was SO like the Beast when Belle first comes to the castle, coming across all wrong and being way too rough round the edges. Yet Dragon, along with Agnieszka, just kind of make you go "aw" and are kind of totally heart meltingly cute at times. Or maybe that was just me? I thought they where cute so whatever. They where also as funny as they where heartwarming, and I just loved their entire relationship, so love/hate, so perfectly pitched, so perfectly written.
I think one of the things that makes this book so perfect is that you don't know what's going to happen next, you're surprised from the beginning, because the synopsis is vague on purpose. You're constantly being surprised, and being pleasantly surprised not like...horrifically surprised. I was literally speeding through the book being delighted every time a new thing happened or a new fact came about.
Each character becomes so real as you read, and all of them are just so, interesting, charming, intriguing, realistic, I could go on and on. I LOVED Kasia, and I had some angst about her at one particular rough part of the book when I was like OMG NO. But it was all good, her entire friendship with Anieszka was just...perfect. Seriously I keep using that word but this book is SO perfect. All of the characters where so realistically human I couldn't actually find a fault with any of them, most likely because the author has got the nuances of human nature down so well. Even Marek when he was being seriously questionable and I kind of wanted to smack him one...I could still see where he was coming from with his mother and everything. Marek is a prime example of how Novik has written some very well created characters, they're flawed which just makes them more believable, I wasn't too sure of Marek but then he redeemed himself and then I was like ugh not again and then I liked him again and yeah. I still understood where he was coming from no matter his behaviour. You could see both view points and so it was hard to judge any character.
Even the Woods as it where, by the end of the book you understand the Woods and I even felt a bit sorry for them and couldn't even bring myself to dislike them. All of these characters are so well created, so fleshed out, multi-dimensional and so utterly charmingly realistic, you loved every character.
While the book is very well wrapped up, there's no outstanding questions, I could still see a sequel, just because I want to know what happens next to some of the characters and I loved the world so much I don't want to let it go entirely. I kept seeing people saying this was a fairytale and I was a bit skeptical, but it really is, and the ending, it was so CUTE and so perfect for the two characters, and then Kasia getting a life for herself. Seriously.
I keep seeing this compared to Robin Hobb, and while yes, fans of her would most likely love this book, this was altogether a much easier read than any Hobb book, while still being complex, and beautifully written and full of wonderful descriptions and settings and so on. It doesn't lack for anything. I love Hobb, really I do, but I'm first to admit it does take me a while to read one, I couldn't read one in one sitting like I did with this, and let me tell you. Thor: The Dark World, and Beauty and the Beast before that, where all playing in the background as I read. (I have to have the TV on to drown out the neighbours noise if I want to read). Anyway. I LOVE both of those films. Yet while I was reading.......I couldn't have cared less. I was oblivious. Totally engrossed in the book, and reading so easily.
Uprooted deserves every single bit of praise and hype it receives, it's one of the few books that truly lives up the hype. It's a fairytale, but slightly darker than any Disney fare you would have spent your childhood knowing and loving, yet it still invokes the feelings you experience when watching a well loved Disney fairytale.
Uprooted is surprising from beginning to end, magic saturates every page and engulfs you, the darkness, the malice, the malevolence and the general creepiness ooze off the page and embraces you, drawing you in to the world until the very last page has been read. But the story and the characters, characters so believably written they come to feel like new friends, will stay with you long after you have closed the book. Uprooted is a truly enchantingly magnificent read and I cannot praise it enough. There just aren't words, or I don't have them, one of the two!