I received this book for free from Hachette Children's Books UK in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Novice by Taran Matharu
Published by Hachette Children's Books UK on May 5, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, YA
Source: Hachette Children's Books UK
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When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.
As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.
Definitely one of the most underwhelming fantasies I’ve read this year.
I was really excited for this after knowing it was originally a WattPad story. I always get excited when a book becomes published through unconventional means, because it means people like me who just writes stories for fun for others online can be discovered for the very reason our stories are simply good enough. And knowing it was a fantasy? Heck yeah, my favorite genre of the year, represeeent!
However, reading this book was like eating unseasoned, hard meat… it didn’t taste anything. It was bland and forgettable. I kept on chewing and chewing and chewing in hopes it would suddenly turn into a gourmet dish, but in the end, I swallowed it feeling. It didn’t bring anything new to the plate, nor did it engage the reader in me. I started reading this in May. I finished it in July. I mean, that speaks volumes, I think.
Despite this having obviously Pokemon/Digimon/Monster Rancher elements (except with “demons”) in a typical fantasy setting (world filled with humans, orcs, elves, and dwarves), it failed to instill a feeling of awe within me.
Because of the writing, that’s why.
That cover is goddamn misleading. It made me think I’d be reading about grown teenagers finding their place in a world strife with war, in a world where everyone was against each other, but that was all a lie. The characters here all sounded like they were ten year olds who were on a field trip to a Harry Potter-like academy. It was awkward, quite stilted, and flat. It was so uninspiring and it resembled bad fanfiction so much. It reminded me a lot of Lucy Saxon’s Take Back the Skies where the style felt so young and in need of good polishing. Like the two have the following in common:
☑ A lot of telling than showing
☑ Very uninteresting chapter finishers… like every chapter ends in such anti-climactic ways
☑ Blunt way of showing character feelings, giving a feel of disconnection
☑ Boring, narrative-style info-dumps in dialogues
☑ Lack of real and genuine character development/emotional connection
I wish I liked this more, but the writing really made me feel nothing towards the characters. Didn’t help that Fletcher, an orphan (who we know will be the son of someone important later on…), was a Gary Stu in the making – having no real flaws except his being friendly with everyone, being automatically gifted without bloody working for it, overcoming hurdles without any real tension. I mean, yeah, pokemon-like demons are cool and all, but if the main character doesn’t have a personality, then what else does he have going for?
The rest were so uninteresting as well, having characteristics that were stereotypical of their fantasy-races. Who did the mining? The dwarves! Who were the agile and graceful ones? The elves! Who were the enemies who did nothing but grunt? The orcs! Like, oh my bloody god, can it not get any more cheesier than that?
All in all, a big and utter disappointment.
2 Hot Espressos