Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review of The Reader by Traci Chee (and a little chat)

Please hang with me on this one, it is a long review but for good reason!
Read for: TBR Book
Synopsis: "Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.

Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning."

My Review: So I purchased this book back when everyone was getting so hyped up for it's release, but then I really didn't seen too many reviews and the ones I did see were not all that positive so I put this on the backburner. I finally was drawn in again by the beautiful cover and picked it up. I am so glad I did too, this turned out to be right up my alley. So much thought and detail went into not only the story but the actual production of this book. First let me talk about the book itself, the cover has so many details and subtle hints as to the story, then it has deckled edges, then on the inside it has a variety of formats, with images and handwriting, etc., a beautiful map detailing the world and finally there is a hidden message too! Now into the story itself, I went in a little blind know that it was set in the equivalent of a eastern culture type world but without any written language or reading, but the main character has something we know is a book (but she doesn't know what it is), oh and there is some kind of magic too. It takes a bit to get into the story, and I don't suggest listening to the audio book unless you are following along in the book at first. There is a lot of world building, but it is very nicely done, woven into the story and some discovered as the characters discover it. What I was not expecting was that this book would have so many pirates! I was really surprised to find that not only is this a fantasy book about books but also a pirate story. There are so many elements in this book that are so carefully woven together, parts of 'the book' are even integrated into the story. It is all so beautifully orchestrated. The characters are also fantastic, they are well rounded, diverse, realistic and easily to connect with and care for throughout the story. Archer is by far my favorite character, so unique and powerful and he develops so much along side Sefia. Now Sefia is also a great character, she doesn't always make the best decisions but she learns quickly and develops well throughout the story, I look forward to seeing where things take her and what she does. They are the two main characters but there as so many other wonderful supporting and side characters, all of who add something to the story. With all of this said, I would not suggest this book for everyone. It is definitely in the realm of high fantasy and all the world building and complexities of the storylines may leave some readers unhappy or bored, but if you are a fan of high fantasy don't hesitate to pick this one up, it is so unique and I can't wait to see where the rest of this series leads!
My Rating: It took a bit to get into this book because there is a lot of world building (and I tried an audio book first- just don't do that, this is one that needs to be read), but it was so worth it to stick with the book. I really think that this book is a little misunderstood, the synopsis doesn't do a great job and people go in thinking this is going to be a fun fantasy book.  Don't get me wrong, it is a fun fantasy book but it is high fantasy which requires a lot of development. It isn't super straight forward, there will be times where something will seem pointless or confusing but if you just keep moving forward it will come back around and make total sense (there are even some elements I am not sure of but I am certain there was a purpose in future books because all the elements are so carefully thought out so far). This book was definitely a Four Paw book for me!
A Little Chat: I really am kind of wondering what happened with this book, there was so much hype for it at the beginning, even it's own publisher made book tag going around on Youtube, but now after being published almost 9 months ago there are less than 1,000 reviews and only about 3,000 ratings. (I went back to check other debut/ first book in series that were published in the same month - Three Dark Crowns has nearly 4,000 reviews & 17,000 ratings). Is it because this synopsis doesn't really give a proper view, or was it because of some eh reviews right at the beginning?  This is a plot driven (but still with great characters) high fantasy novel, I think when people hear YA high fantasy they think Sarah J. Maas & Throne of Glass, which while it does still fit in the high fantasy realm is really a straight forward wham bang thank you  ma'am type fantasy.  I wonder if we have traveled so far away from sweeping, epic high fantasy that it isn't appreciated so much when you have to really take your time with a book to allow it to develop and settle.  Anyway, just my two cents and I will stop now because this is probably my longest single book review to date!


  1. I really appreciate a very well thought out world/story. I have to be in the mood for it because, like you said, it takes concentration to get into it but I'm totally ok with that.
    I also feel like if books aren't fast paced and exciting from the get go, people don't like them as much. Where's their patience for a slow unfurling story? So sad.

    1. It is definitely something that you have to be in the mood for and can focus on, otherwise it would be easy to give up and put away. It is so true, everyone wants instant gratification in life and their books, while I am the same way sometimes I still do enjoy a slower really well thought out book.

  2. I love fantasy, and this has been on my to-read list for a long time. I'm glad you liked it. I'm actually excited for the world building.

    1. I look forward to seeing what you think of it, see if you fall in love with it the way I did or if you end up not caring for it.