Saturday 26 March 2016

Book Review: The Invasion Of The Tearling; Erika Johansen.

This book is the second installment of a book that seems to be one of those 'marmite' series. People either adore it or can't get their head around it at all, and I'm sad to say I'm quickly falling into the latter of the two categories. I feel like there are so many flaws with this book that I can't fully understand why it has garnered that many positive reviews.

SOURCE: Edelweiss
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Invasion Of The Tearling
AUTHOR: Erika Johansen
SERIES: The Queen Of The Tearling (#2)
PUBLISHER: Transworld Digital
PAGES: 525
GENRE: Fantasy, Adult, Dystopia

RATING: 2/5 Stars

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighbouring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling – and that of Kelsea’s own soul – may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

What I Liked:
  • With book one I had a few nice things to say, and while I've found that harder this time round I can't really fault the plot-line itself. It has got some action and really focuses on the nitty-gritty of politics. It's handling of playing 'the ruling game' is something I've only seen mastered in George R.R. Martin's 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' series but I think Johansen made a pretty decent attempt at it. There was at least some complexity to the decision-making process.
What I Disliked:
  • One of my major dislikes in 'The Queen Of The Tearling' was the confusion surrounding the setting. It clearly referenced our present as it's past multiple times and yet society seemed to have regressed to a Medieval-like world with very little explanation. Book two did make a very direct attempt to explain that, but I found that the way in which it did this (through Lily Mayhew's flashbacks) didn't really fit in with the rest of the story or appeal to me. This kind of information would have done better in a prequel story as rather than complimenting Queen Kelsea's own situation or contributing to the plot at all, Lily just got in the way.
  • Kelsea's focus on her desire to be 'more beautiful' annoyed me in book one but I still appreciated her characterisation at that point. I hoped that in book two she would see her other merits, and find that it's okay to be slightly overweight with an oddly-shaped nose. In this book, I no longer liked Kelsea. She was spoilt, selfish and immature, and continued to whine and moan about how undesirable she was, so much so that her magical jewels actually transformed her into a slender woman with a flawless face. What?! This served no plot purpose whatsoever other than to let Kelsea fit into society's expectations of her as a woman: to maintain appearances. I wanted to bash my head against a wall while reading, especially as it was more frequently talked about than the actual threat of the Mort invasion.
  • This is more of a minor quibble, especially as it's partly my fault. I read the first book just under two years ago and so much of my memory of it had diminished. However, without any kind of character list (and Johansen has a sizeable cast in this book so really ought to have one) I was pretty much left to stumble my way through this one. Johansen offered no real reminders plot-wise throughout the story so my advice to anyone wanting to read this series is not to leave the books too far apart, lest you should become confused.
Overall Conclusion:
Sadly, this book only raised my disappointment in this series further, rather than restoring my faith in it. In the back of my mind I feel like Johansen is trying to make this book's message deep and meaningful, but actually in my eyes she is achieving the opposite. Her characters are annoying and don't really intrigue me (save for the Red Queen, who didn't have an awful lot of page space in this book), her setting doesn't quite wash with me as it has far too many uncertainties, and though the plot isn't bad, it feels cluttered and chaotic at times. The writing itself is rich at some points and frustratingly skimmable at others. There's not an awful lot of consistency. Part of me feels I should give book three a try, seeing as it's the last one anyway. It might take me a long time though, if I decide to bother with it.

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