E-book, 367 Pages
Adult/ Fantasy/ Coming of Age
By: J.T. Greathouse
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 1/2
“If the choice is between understanding some deeper truth or fighting for a chance to make good on all the harm I have done, then I choose to fight.”
This debut has been getting all kind of praise and I found myself with an extra space in my monthly TBR so I picked it up without planning just based on all the hype it was getting. I think the hype made my expectations fly through the roof and I ended up enjoying the book but not as much as I wanted to. I think this will be a bit of an unpopular opinion so tread carefully through the rest of it.
The story follows Wen Alder who comes from a mixed and weird heritage between that of his father, belonging to the oppressive Empire or that of his mother with the oppressed side. Wen tries to find a third path through this story with magic and all kind of challenges.
I think the prose is very good and for a debut, Greathouse did a really good job with the writing. I think my main problem is with Wen, I did not hate him but I did not love him either and I think loving this book requires loving Wen as it is a coming of age story. Given the fact that it is written in first person POV, it was challenging to connect to the book when I did not connect to the main character.
The first 30% I was really enjoying the story and I understood all the hype but it then went all over the place for me personally and I was a bit lost and disconnected from the story. I was continuously getting into and out of the story at that point until things picked up again toward that cool ending! The magic system is cool and I loved the calligraphy incorporation and visually it was vivid in my brain which is really not an easy thing to do.
I already forgot most of the characters and I am not happy with this fact but I know when my brain Shifts-Delete something then it does so because I’d rather use the space for things I enjoyed more. I liked the character of Wen’s grandma and that of doctor Sho but other than those two characters, I know the characters will soon fade into nothing. I also wasn’t a big fan of the romance in this book!
The pacing felt too fast sometimes, I think some points should have been expanded and although the school trope is one of my favorite tropes, I think it wasn’t used as optimally as it should have. I think I had a different vision for the story line in my brain and when the book veered away from it, I kind of was disappointed which is not very fair but I think I saw potential that wasn’t totally met!
Summary: I think for a debut the author did a good job with the prose and the world-building. The characters aren’t bad but I can’t say that I was rooting for Wen as much as I wanted to and given that it was a book with a first person POV, it affected my enjoyment of the overall story. I still think it is a decent book and that you will like it more than I did so don’t hesitate to give it a try!