Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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.

The character development throughout the first half of the novel is almost entirely one-dimensional. The Dragon, the love-intrest/antagonist remains a grumpy wizard, irritated by whatever his young protégée would do. The readers get only a slight glimpse of his real character, and the overall impression is that the only thing he can do is sulk.

 The protégée in question ends up taking one reckless decision after another and her relationship and worry about Kasia seems, at a lot of points, very forced. Kasia is the pretty-girl best friend, all too perfect to be really likable at the very beginning, Kasia and Agnieszka share a very strong bond – which is inadequately introduced and is seemingly one-sided. Agnieszka cares about her friend deeply, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see where the strength of attachment was even coming from.

Some reviewers have mentioned the Agnieszka’s very touching growth throughout the book and called her a relatable protagonist. She stubbornly kept avoiding reasonable arguments, making one mistake after another… Her power grew, and yet her character growth avoided me almost entirely.  With 367 Goodreads ratings, Naomi Novik’s soon to be released novel currently stands at 4.40* average. Just as in the case of the Red Queen I got a feeling that me and the other reviewers were reading two different books.

The original idea is brilliant, the execution – not so much. Character development is lacking, some plot points drone on and on, while others would have sufficed for 3-4 end-of-the-novel cliffhangers… Uprooted is a vivid and would surely look great on the big screen, it is a dark, twisted and very original tale, however, in it’s novel form it left me disappointed.

Release date: May 21.

Overall note: 3*

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Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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