Tuesday 18 July 2017

Review on The Waking Land

When Elanna is five years old, she is kidnapped by King Antoine, an enemy of her father, and taken to live with him in Eren. Elanna grows up to love Antoine like a father, and is soon taught to see her own people as the enemy. However, fourteen years after Elanna was taken, King Antoine is murdered, and Elanna becomes the prime suspect. Elanna is forced to flee Eren, and return to the parents who never tried to rescue her. After discovering she is the Caveadear, a powerful sorceress who can control the land, Elanna must decide where her loyalties lie, and whether she'll show mercy, or seek revenge.

So as I've probably mentioned multiple times, fantasy is my all time favourite genre. After managing to tear my eyes away from the gorgeous cover for long enough to actually read the synopsis, I knew I had to read this one! It follows Elanna, a sorceress who has been kidnapped by the King. The book starts with a map, yes a map! I always get excited over seeing a map at the start of the book, as it always means that the protagonist is going to be going on some sort of epic adventure. After staring at the map for at least ten minutes, I was happy to discover that the book started with a prologue instead of going into back story later down the line. I feel that being in the heart of the story rather than a character telling a long winded back story is always more effective at getting the point across, and doesn't bore the reader. It immediately made me interested in Elanna's story, and wanting to find out what was going to happen to her.

Although the book started out in a promising way, I felt as if it progressed a little too slowly, and I did find it to be a little boring at times. There was a lot of travelling after the initial escape from Eren, which felt quite slow and tedious. It took me quite a while to get into the book because of this, and I was often only reading for ten minutes at a time before getting bored. I did however start to enjoy the book more once we started to learn more about Elanna's abilities. Although I have seen powers similar to Elanna's in other YA books, I loved that there was lore behind who she was, and I loved learning about Wildegarde and her ancestors. I also loved how she slowly learnt the extent of her powers. I particularly adored her powers towards the end of the book, as the walking trees reminded me of the Ent's from Lord of the Rings.

I was a little disappointed in the characters themselves, as I felt as if most of them lacked personality, and the fact that most of them appeared sporadically didn't do much to help me gain some sort of emotional attachment to them. Although the protagonist is rarely my favourite character in fantasy books, I think Elanna was my favourite simply because she was one of the few characters with a past, and I felt sorry for her for what she had to endure. With the exception of Rhia, I found the rest of the female characters dull. I did initially like Victoire, Elanna's best friend, but like some of the other characters, she disappeared for half of the book, and I'd lost interest in her by the time she returned. Although I did love the reveal of who Sophy really was, I again found her quite dull as a character.

I did like a couple of the male characters, particularly Finn. I loved the reveal of who he really was, and also his friendship with Jahan. I thought Finn was a sweet character, and he seemed one of the more realistic characters, as he had flaws such as running away from danger rather than laying down his life. Although I loved Jahan as a character, I found his relationship with Elanna a little uncomfortable. I knew from the moment he was introduced that he would be the love interest, and I found the romance between him and Elanna to be too cheesy and instalovey, with Elanna pretty much instantly being attracted to him. I found the whole wedding the land plot particularly weird, and didn't quite understand how that actually worked. One thing that I thought was unnecessary was the rumour than Jahan was in a romantic relationship with the prince who he had saved. As this turned out to be untrue, it felt a little as if it was queer baiting, and I felt as if this was the wrong way to go about making Elanna jealous, and believing Jahan was already taken. Aside from the romance, I thought Jahan was an interesting character, and I wanted to learn more about his past and the extent of his powers. I also want to briefly mention The Butcher, one of the main villains in the book. I loved how he was initially seen as a ruthless villain who was not above torturing people, but throughout the book we were given little hints that he wasn't as bad as he seemed. I loved that it was impossible to tell which side he would take, and I was quietly rooting for him to do the right thing and help Elanna.

I loved that Elanna was torn between Eren and Caeris, as she had a history of living in both. It was interesting to see that Elanna seemed to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, as although she was kidnapped and kept against her will, she soon sees her kidnapper as a fatherly figure. Elanna acted as a bridge between Eren and Caeris, and I loved how she slowly realised how everything she had been taught about Caeris was a lie, and how she helped both sides to co-exist by showing them how corrupt their Queen was. Although the action picked up towards the end of the book, I felt as if they won their cause far too easily. I loved that they won with little bloodshed, but it also felt a little like an anti climax with everyone deciding to surrender. I felt as if a little resistance would have made it more exciting, and would have given Elanna a bit more of a challenge.

There were several instances where the book completely confused me, particular in the first half. There were so many locations to keep track of, and I was constantly referring back to the map to find out where the characters were. I felt as if the map could have done with being extended slightly, as there were a few places mentioned that weren't actually on the map. I was also confused over some of the characters, particularly those who were mentioned several times, but who we never got to meet. I spent a good few chapters thinking that Finn was the prince who Jahan had saved, only later figuring out that Jahan's prince was a completely different character who we never got to meet. I also felt there were too many background characters who I easily lost track of.

I'm still a little torn about how I feel about this book, which will probably show in my rating. There were certain things that I loved, such as waking the ancestors and the trees and learning about Elanna's abilities, but I think the confusion over what was happening ruined it a little for me. As the world has been established now, I am wondering if I would enjoy the second book more, as hopefully there would be less info dumping. I am interested in the book enough to want to continue reading the series, but unfortunately it wasn't my favourite fantasy YA read.

The Waking Land is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

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