Saturday, January 23, 2016

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Favorites Extravaganza: Day #11)

2015 Favorites Extravaganza: Day #11

Uprooted  by Naomi Novik
First Published: 2015
Mature YA, High-Fantasy
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, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood's powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost 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 no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.
From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.
Initially, Uprooted caught my eyes when pictures of its beautiful cover surfaced tumblr (with very favorable reviews). So just like that, it was bumped to the top of my list. Sometimes, this method of book-chosing yields unfortunate results. And sometimes, it doesn't. Sometimes, it turns out to be the best of choices.

I wasn't even two pages in when I knew I would adore this book. I was absolutely correct. 

Every ten years, a 17 years old girl is chosen to live with the valley's wizard, the Dragon. And when her 10 years end, she leaves - never to come back. Agnieszka, our protagonist, is such a girl. But neither she nor her family are really worried, because the Dragon always takes the most beautiful and talented girl, and Agnieszka's best friend Kasia is the sure choice.

So everyone are shocked when she is chosen. Now she has to deal with being uprooted (see what I did there??) and worse -- living with a surly, neat-freak, perfectionist wizard who won't even try to make the transition somewhat bearable. 

From that point on, things get real interesting.

First of all, let me say this - the bromance (is there a female term for bromance??) between Nieshka and Kasia is lifeI was worried that Uprooted will follow in Cruel Beauty's steps with more hate than friendship, but it totally didn't. Nieshka and Kasia are real, honest to god, best friends. They're practically sisters. It was beautiful, seriously. 

Then there is the Dragon. I was shipping him and Nieshka from pretty much the first time they met. They just clashed so beautifully - she with her spontaneous, outdoorsy, clumsy manner and him with his straight laced, dignified order. It made for some hilarious interactions, and you could see from the get-go that those interaction rattled both of them. In the best way possible.

I mean, it's sort of a hate to love relationship, and it is executed perfectlyYou fall in love together with these two characters, and the best part is that neither of them need to voice their feelings to know they are there. 

Oh, and they are hot. Sometimes in an explicit sort of way. However, don't expect a NA level of things. The mature content in Uprooted is very tasteful and doesn't go overboard, staying true to the mood, story and characters. Novik isn't afraid to go past PG-13, because it's right for her story. And not for any other reason. 

Now lets talk a little about the world because it was beautiful and horrifying and magical. Novik did a wonderful job flashing out the world without info-dumping it on you, letting you learn the ins and outs through the characters and their experiences. In this world, some rare people have magic. And the biggest threat to all the kingdom's people is not the war always brewing on the horizon, it is the Wood.

Yes. When was the last time you read a book where a Wood was the main antagonist? And not just any antagonist - a manipulative, cruel, mind controlling one who will do anything in his power to devour all the land and kill everyone in it. 

What, you're scared now? You should be. 

Alongside Nieshka, Dragon and Kasia, there are many side characters, such as the other magicians, the (kind of hateful) prince, the king, and the villagers. They were all, even when they were kind of awful, charming in their own ways. Mostly because no one in this book is really evil. 

Oh, and you should know - this book doesn't pull any punches. There are deaths. From a certain point there is a death almost every page. And some of it is hella gory. But even so, it's still so damn charming.

GAh, I don't know. This book does stuff to me. 

Uprooted is everything. I just want more of this world and characters so damned much that I can't deal with this being the end!

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