Thursday, 17 May 2018

Audiobook Review - Uprooted

I've been aware of this book for a while, but it took me a while before I went "Ok, I want to listen to this" I'm not sure why I decided to listen to the audiobook version over reading the book, but I thought this might be a good way to get into this as, after listening to all Deborah Harkness's All Souls trilogy, I feel that audiobooking adult fantasy is the way to go...

Agnieszka loves her valley. She loves her beautiful friend, Kasia, and she's bracing herself, for it's nearly time for the Choosing. The Choosing, where the Dragon comes and takes a girl to his tower for ten years.  It's his exchange for keeping the Wood and it's corruption. And everyone in the village knows that it's Kasia who the Dragon is going to choose - she's beautiful, clever, ready to go and have an adventure.

But when he comes to the village, it's not Kasia he chooses... it's Agnieszka.

On the surface, this book sounds like it's a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast (which is my jam!), but set within a Polish or Russian fairytale, which sounds intriguing or I should read more outside UK/USA versions. But this story... For me, it's very much a story of two halves. The first half wasn't to my taste while the second half was more up my street. And I know why, and I will explain a little further down.

No, let's get into that now.

This story's pacing was the biggest problem I have. I have read and listened and watched other people's reactions to this book, and am surprised over the fact they all say the pacing was relentless. Because I don't feel that way. The first half of this audiobook was, to me, slow and a bit of a slog to go through. I get why as this half to place over a long period of times - months, maybe years. And I get why - we need world building in place, we need to understand the basic of magic (it's vague, and it works for this fairy-tale feel that this story has), events happen which are solved a chapter or two later, and we need to get understand Agnieszka's skin. But it dragged for me - I don't mind if a story is set over a long period of time, but I need something to keep me interested. I need something to keep pulling me back, and there were several points when I did consider quitting this audiobook. Around the halfway point, something happened and, though I still struggled, I liked the direction the story began to take and the promise of "This is getting better" kept me coming back. Plus, the second half of the book, took place over a much shorter time frame - a fortnight, maybe a month? - and I just prefer a faster pace.

Another problem I had was the romance. This book has romance in it, but it's more a background thing. But, I didn't see it. I kept questioning the romance. I wondered "why?" over it. Why does Agnieszka like the Dragon? When it did start for both of them? Is it because of their magic? Is it because of Stockholm Syndrome? Are we meant to like the Dragon, because he's a mean, cruel, jack***? Are we being led down the garden path with Angieszka and the Dragon, when the romance is actually Angieszka and Kasia (even though I don't want that as I really like this strong female friendship)? I kept questioning it and I didn't believe it.

I think my problem overall is there was potential and it just fell short for me. It was a bit wishy-washy. But, I did enjoy the latter half of the book - I like the pacing, I liked the action, I liked the magic and this latter half is the reason I am thinking of reading the companion novel, Spinning Silver, which is set in this world but not with these characters. Plus, it's a reimagining of Rumplestiltskin, which I have never read so this is going to be intriguing.

But Uprooted is a very mixed bag for me. It missed the bullseye for me in the first half, but on the money in latter half, but as I hate DNFing audiobooks, I wonder if I would have kept going if I was reading this...

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