Uprooted by Naomi Novik

uprooted

  • Title: Uprooted
  • Author: Naomi Novik
  • Genre:  Fantasy
  • Pages:  464
  • Format: Hardback
  • Other: GoodReads, Amazon
  • Grade: B+/A-1 (4.5/5)

Blurb  

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

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.

Review

When I sat down to write this review, I had no idea where to begin. I came into this thinking it would be just a simple Beauty and the Beast retelling. I thought it would be driven by romance, I thought it would be poorly written, I thought it would be a guilty pleasure. But instead, I found a rich, complex, terrifying, and beautiful story that I may have fallen in love with.

At its core, Uprooted is a creative and fascinating story. It was different than I expected. It was excited, and it kept me reading, and when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about it. Those are the kinds of books I ache for, and Uprooted was one of them: a book that kept me guessing, a book with just the right pacing, a book that could be scary and romantic and raw, and Uprooted was all of those things. And even better?  I never correctly predicted the outcome.

Agnieszka’s world felt so real. Even though there was this fairy-tale element to it, it felt like a real place. The Wood was real, the tower was real, the village was real. There were communities that worked like real communities worked. I could imagine what everything looked like, I could picture where it was all located in my head. Ultimately, it didn’t feel like an isolated town with nothing around it. It felt whole.

The fantasy elements were interesting and fresh. Granted, I don’t read much outside of young adult literature (and no, I would not consider this young adult literature because it’s much more complex than most young adult fantasy). But I felt like the magic was different than what I’ve seen, especially in how Novik explored the way people approached magic differently (which I found fascinating). And more importantly, the magical beings were different than what I normally see.

And the characters were all well-developed. I never felt like there was an important character who felt flat. They were all flawed in their own ways, and even for the ones who were seriously flawed, they still felt human (even Marek, who I hated).  Agnieszka was strong and bold (albeit a little foolish). The Dragon was impatient and snarky, but there was also a kindness and loneliness there that made you feel for him. And Kasia, a woman who was more beautiful than our main character, was kind and intelligent and never the villain. There was little girl-on-girl hate and that was so refreshing.  And the relationships between all of these characters grew organically. It never felt forced.

And the writing was gorgeous. It was vivid and detailed, and I could picture everything. It was like I was really there with Agnieszka.

But there was one flaw: Agnieszka, young and experienced, seems to grow into her abilities at a ridiculously unusual speed, and it was never explained why. She just seemed to know things, and that seemed a little far-fetched to me.

Despite that, this has easily become one of my favorite books, and I will definitely read it again, and I will definitely pick up another book by Naomi Novik.

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