Thursday, May 18, 2017

Series Review of the Watersmeet Trilogy by Ellen Jensen Abbott

I have been trying to figure out a way to share all these books I read with you but still include other non-review posts on the blog.  One method I have come up with was to share the reviews for an entire series (or pair) of books in one post.  I will do my absolute best to keep spoilers out of these posts in case you plan to read the books, but there is a slight chance that even the synopsis of a book can give away the result of the previous book. So if you don't want to know anything at all about the later books in a series that might giveaway something in the first book STOP READING NOW!
Synopsis: "From her birth, Abisina has been outcast--for the color of her eyes and skin, and for her lack of a father. Only her mother's status as the village healer has kept her safe. But when a mythic leader arrives, Abisina's life is ripped apart. She escapes alone to try to find the father and the home she has never known. In a world of extremes, from the deepest prejudice to the greatest bonds of duty and loyalty, Abisina must find her own way and decide where her true hope lies."

My Review: I have had this series of books sitting on my shelf for ages and figured it was about time I picked them up. I believe that this was meant to be a YA book but the writing is pretty simplistic and more appropriate for a middle grade book. It was quite an expansive world to build with a variety of mythical creatures and cultures but unfortunately it wasn't developed quite enough to really immerse yourself in the world. The characters also fell a little flat for me, there honestly wasn't a single character that I cared enough about. I do appreciate that Abbott attempted to tackle some very tough subjects, religion and racism, and she does a great job of showing those subjects. But there just wasn't much to build around them. These are fairly short books so I will continue the series.
My Rating: I was a little disappointed in this book, it was slow and flat, I had no connection to the characters or story. It is a complex book with the world building and all the variety of races and belief systems.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.
Synopsis: "Abisina had found a home in Watersmeet--the community her father led until he was killed by the evil White Worm. But now, Watersmeet is as divided as the village she fled as an outcast. The land faces a new threat, and an uneasy alliances between the humans and the creatures will have to be formed to survive. If Abisina doesn't become the leader Watersmeet needs, she may lose everything. But can she take her father's place?

This powerful and moving fantasy deals with timely issues about identity, prejudice, and war. The Centaur's Daughter is the sequel to Watersmeet, which was an IRA Young Adult Book Award Notable and a YALSA Teens' Top Ten Nominee."

My Review: While this book was a slight improvement over Watersmeet in some manners it was pulled back in others. I like how the series picked up not exactly where it left off but allowed for a little time to pass, but with that it left some important matters up to you to figure out. The world building still needs a lot of work and it has gotten to the point that I really need a map. I do like how this book has transitioned into more of a internal and coming of age type of book for Abisina, she is trying to find her place in her world as her body changes as does her roles. With that said I think to make the book more appealing some love triangles were thrown in but they weren't well done and I did not care for them at all. Again this was a book that fell flat for me, it really kept me at arms length and I didn't get emotionally involved with any of it.
My Rating: There was a pretty big time gap between this book and the first and while it did allow for some development off page, it also made it difficult to re-establish where everything was standing (especially after all the world building).  I did connect with the character more but not enough to really care what happened. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Synopsis: "Abisina is ready to embrace her destiny and become the Keeper of Watersmeet. But the survival of the land depends on the north and south—the centaurs, dwarves, fairies, humans, and fauns—joining together to confront a gathering evil. The rift that opened in the mountains has continued to spew forth terrible creatures. Abisina knows that the most powerful creature of all has arrived—though what shape it will take is still a mystery.

She sets out to bring the folk together, but the land has never been more divided, and, Abisina doubts if she has the strength to be the leader that Watersmeet needs. Even the power of the Keeper's necklace doesn't seem to be enough—and then that is taken from her. Can Abisina's faith in the power of love, acceptance, and unity survive this final test?

This is the exciting conclusion to the acclaimed fantasy trilogy that began with Watersmeet."

My Review: I kind of struggled with this final book in the Watersmeet trilogy. I still really did not care for any of the characters or what happened to them. The story did progress down a darker path compared to the previous two books and there was a lot more danger in this one, and less hope. While I am glad that this series is over, there were a lot of big questions left unanswered and was a little unsatisfying in that aspect. It was also a very slow moving story as a whole, with not a lot of action. I feel like the author had a lot of things to say about hot button issues, like racism, and kind of used this trilogy as a way to voice those, not that they were bad or wrong but I feel like it kind of took over the story. This just wasn't the book or the series I had hoped for when I first picked it up.
My Rating: I thought with this would be better since there was more action and a lot darker feel but since I already kind of didn't care about what happened to the characters it was a bit of a struggle to get through.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.
Full Series Review: I have had this series sitting on my shelf for quite a while now, I was originally attracted to the Centaur character. I think that Abbott took on a lot with this series, there is a lot of world building required, especially with such a variety of character types and religious beliefs, she also tried to tackle many tough subject matters throughout this series.  It seems like it is meant of a middle grade to early young adult audience but with how slow and complex the series is I don't think many in that target audience would sit through the entire series. It is clearly a plot driven storyline, which if done right can be fantastic but unfortunately this one just fell flat for me.  I have also come to the conclusion that I am not a fan of "the chosen one" or "destined to save everything" tropes, which this was clearly (but more about that in another post).  I give this series as a whole a rating of Two Paws.

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