Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Published May 19th 2015 by Del Rey

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, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling 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 Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose
*An ARC was provided by Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.*

What can I say about Uprooted that hasn't already been said? When this little gem finally caught my attention, I was already late to the party. All of the positive reviews were already flooding in and I remember thinking: Whaaa?!?? Where did that come from? How did I miss this?! You've probably all heard about how it's a story worthy of even the most classic fairytales. How there's this swoon-worthy slow-burn romance. How the villain here is The Wood, an oppressive, faceless presence that corrupts everything it touches and chills you to the bone. You've also probably heard that there's a dragon, but he's actually a man. A wizard, in fact, who keeps the villagers safe from (dun, dun, duuunnn) The Wood. Ok. So if you've all heard about all that stuff, what are we going to talk about here? Well, I'm going to try to gush over discuss aspects of Uprooted that you might not have heard about. Spoiler-free of course ;)

A simple glance at Uprooted (GORGEOUS) book  jacket will tell you that The Dragon protects the villagers from The Wood, but at a price. He takes one girl from the village every ten years. Naturally, the Dragon chooses our wonderful protagonist Agnieszka, as a surprise to everyone, including Agnieszka herself.  Soon, she's thrown into a world of magic, danger and death and she is changed beyond imagination.  I took to Agnieszka straight away. She can come off a bit unassuming at first, but she's loyal to a fault, strong when she needs to be and wickedly adaptable.  She isn't the perfect, pretty MC we see too often in YA fiction, but something else altogether.  Ironically, the perfect, pretty one is Agnieszka's best friend: Kasia and I have to be honest, their friendship was one of my favorite parts of this book. Agnieszka and Kasia are true friends, like the ones we all had growing up. They have so much love and devotion for one another. I thought was beautiful  to see two girls with a friendship like that in YA, without it being tainted by a love-triangle or anything. These ladies might just have the best friendship I've ever read about in a loooong time.

Then of course, there's The Dragon.  The Dragon is kind of a jerk sometimes. Ok, a lot of the time. But damn if he isn't fascinating as hell! I couldn't get enough of him. He's wise, powerful and stubborn as they come but it all worked for me.  There's one part of the story where Agnieszka sets off on her own adventure, so we don't get to see as much of him and I missed his presence sorely. The romance that develops is, as you've heard a very slow burn.  I would add that it's imperfect, messy and even inconvenient at times, but boy oh boy, the chemistry is through the roof!  It even avoids being the clichéd kind of all-consuming romance that changes the characters involved and makes them forget their motives. Colour me impressed!

Most of all though, I want to gush about THE MAGIC at play here. The magical system is incantation based, but it has a certain fluidity to it; it's flexible and adaptable.  While certain characters have a more rigid approach, others make use of it by instinct and feeling.  It seems as though, if the intent is clear, the magic finds a way. It's not an overly-complicated system, but I was blown away by how it all came together, so nuanced and imaginative. There are spells and potions, magical books and swords. Incantations that can be spoken, imagined, even sung! I couldn't get enough and my only complaint is that Uprooted is a standalone so I won't get to bask in it's magic throughout multiple books.  I guess I'll just have to reread it again and again. And again and again...

Bottom line: Uprooted is a magical, enchanting and fresh take on the classic fairytale genre. The characters are multi-faceted and never quite what they first seem, which made them all a joy to unravel.   Fans of magic, fantasy, and fairytales alike should definitely check this one out - if you haven't done so already. And if you have, well please feel free to gush with me :)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

23 comments:

  1. This book completely came out of nowhere, and suddenly everyone loved it! I won a copy of it a while ago, and I'm hoping to read it maybe this month. I love that you point out the magic system - that's definitely something I really enjoy in a book, and the magic in Uprooted sounds interesting. Great review <3

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    1. Ok! So it wasn't just me that felt like: ok HOW did I miss this one?! Sweet that you won a copy^^ hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I did! The magical system here was one of my favorite bits, I just loved how real it felt ♥ Thanks Celine xxxx

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  2. I missed this one at first too, but it does seem to keep popping up and everyone is loving it. I definitely need to read it!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I swear it felt like I was the only blogger alive who hadn't jumped on the boat with this one! I'm glad I wasn't the only one. I really think you'd enjoy this one too Nicole^^ :)

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  3. When this one first popped up I said the same thing-how did I miss this!? Glad to know the hype is well deserved-a killer magic system and awesome slow burn romance? I NEED. All the characters sound so fascinating and The Dragon seems like he has so much depth.

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    1. RIGHT?! I felt like I'd been living under a rock or something! Oh Alise, I can picture you LOVING this one too, I already can't wait to compare notes with you - and likely gush some more XD

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  4. ANOTHER 5 STAR REVIEW?!?!?! I seriously need this book. It's not even a want anymore, just a need. You have me extra excited about the magic.

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    1. YES^^ YES you NEED this book Bec! YAY I'm excited to chat with you once you read it and rave about it some more!!

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  5. Oh man, I really need to get a hold of this book; I keep saying this lately but it's true! Been hearing so many fantastic things about it and it sounds like a book that I'll be sure to enjoy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this title! :)

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    1. It's kind of crazy how it got so much positive buzz and glowing reviews right?! I'm really curious to see how you'd make out with it :)

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  6. Glad you got a chance to read this! I agree, it's so wonderful and I loved Sarkan. Gush, gush away! :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Thanks Mogsy^^ I am too! Sarkan was phenomenal! At first, I thought he'd be the stereotypical jerk, but he really impressed me and now I just love him ♥ XD

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  7. I totally missed the boat on this one until I just kept hearing rave reviews! I really really need to read this because I think I'd love it!

    -Wendy @ Book Scents

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    1. Ooooh Wendy, I seriously think you'd LOVE this one too^^ It's not too late, run to the bookstore now and get a copy - we NEED to have a chat after ;)

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  8. This has been on my radar ever since it began generating a lot of positive buzz around the blogosphere, and I was eagerly anticipating your review! I'm so, so happy to hear that it was so full of awesome! Your love for it makes me very confident about outright buying a copy in the future. :D

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    1. Awww thank you Lee^^ Yeah, the positive buzz was spot on for this one, it's 100% worth the read! I hope that you'll find just as much to love in it as I did :D

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  9. Ahh Micheline, I'm SO GLAD you liked this one! This is a great review. Uprooted was definitely one of my top 5 reads of 2015.
    You're so right, the chemistry between Sarkan and Agnieszka is amazing. That love scene is so good - I was really glad of such a positive sex scene in a YA book (though I've heard people say it's really an adult book and I can see where they're coming from...).

    And ooh, yes, the magic system (or rather the lack of it?) was so well-done. Haha, the Dragon was such a grumpy cat sometimes! :)

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    1. Thank you so much Kaja! The sparks between Sarkan and Agnieszka were flying like crazy, it was such a great ship and yet it never took away from the main storyline. I love it ♥ And you're right: their love-scene was very positive for a YA book - and yes, I can see how some people would classify Uprooted as an 'adult' read because of it...

      Oh you didn't find that the magic had a system?! I thought it was simple but incredibly well executed! So.Much.Awesome! :D

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  10. Oh, I am so happy that you enjoyed this book! I loved it! I needed a good fantasy novel to catch my interest again, and this one had it all!!!

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    1. Wow, yeah I can imagine that if you were in something of a fantasy slump that this one could have easily turned things around for you! It was so incredible! I'm happy that you loved it too :)

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  11. Yay, I'm glad you loved this one too, Micheline! The friendship, the romance, the magic ... it was all so well-written!

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    1. YES^^ EVERYTHING. It all worked and it was all amazing! :)

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  12. Yaaay you loved this one as well! It was so beautiful and the writing was fascinating - I'm not sure I understood the ending but I still loved the book. Glad you could enjoy it as well. Wonderful review overall <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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