“The life of a Plexian wife, even with Lief, would be one of dull servitude and probably abuse. She didn’t wish that life on anyone. And the battlefield, no matter how grim, still gave Sevara hope that some speck of humanity could be found between men and women.”
First, look at the pretty, pretty cover! Isn’t that nice 🙂 I can tell you, in person (physically in your hands), it’s truly fantastic.
Okay. So. This is a genre mash. up. The book has elements of fantasy (various genres), dystopia, YA, and writing that feels more comic book than novel (too much telling, not enough showing). When I first started reading it, I immediately thought of the film Sucker Punch.
[Side-plug: if you’ve never seen this film, I recommend it. It wasn’t well-reviewed, but I found it thought-provoking and visually intriguing.]
In Sevara, we’ve got orphaned girls who duke it out in a backwards-@ss orphanage (but they still love each other) and fighting at the front lines of a strange war, and we’re not certain what the cause is. Oh, and then there are these god-like shape-shifting creatures that pop up to provide some outside perspective/commentary a là the Greek chorus.
Where this book gets it right: I care about Sevara. I’m rooting for her even though I find her character strangely detached and removed from the action around her. The pacing is decent (in the first half) — it moves along at a nice clip — not too slow and not too fast.
Where this book needs some work: editing (misused words, extra words, clunky sentences). It really took away from some of the good things that were happening. I could have overlooked these editing issues if it weren’t for this next thing: wonky plot.
The first half of the book, Part I, is set up like a typical novel. We get some back story and action proceeds chronologically. Good deal. Then we get into Part II, and it’s almost as if the writer got tired of writing fantasy. It’s tough work — it’s long work, but your readers want that. We want the long novel. It’s okay to give us something that’s 70,000-80,000 words — we’re expecting that! But this book concludes itself way too quickly, and, I think, leaves too much out.
Rather than the chronological, moment-to-moment timeline from Part I, the writer starts hopping around. Not in time, precisely, but from this scene to that scene and back. It actually started to irritate me at one point (because, confusing), and I contemplated putting the book down, for good, but I wanted to know what happened to Sevara so I kept going. I thought Part II was too short, but Part III was practically non-existent.
[I really liked the comic panels in the back 🙂 ]
My conclusion: if you’re a patient fantasy reader (and you liked Sucker Punch) then read this. If you’re nit-picky and require a lot of development and crystal clear plot points, maybe stear clear.
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.