I received this book for free from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Rook by Sharon Cameron
Published by Scholastic on April 28, 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Retellings, YA
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History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?
Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.
As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.
I really can’t shake off the feeling that this book would have been 5 times better if it wasn’t as long as it was.
Yeah, it was only, what, 464 pages? 6000 Kindle locations? But let me tell you that reading this felt like it took bloody eternity. Not even my love for anything French could have prevented the yawns this book made me do… oh, every 5 minutes. If it wasn’t for the fact I needed to read and finish this in the next six hours just in time to write this review for today (I like to live dangerously), I would’ve set it aside to take a well-deserved nap.
But, hey, I did it, friends! I survived! Even though most of the time in the last six hours I was like this:
and like this:
It would be harsh to say it was torture, but not taking that nap when my eyes desperately needed it was pretty painful.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: this book was boring, which could honestly be attributed to the writing/narration in general because it often talked about the most mundane of things in a really long-winded way. It would talk about the setting, what the characters were doing, why they were doing what they were doing, over and over, spanning countless paragraphs and pages. If the writing was beautiful, lyrical, poetic, and had meaning and purpose to each word, I would have gobbled all that up because I’m not a stranger to dense books in third person (hi, Brandon Sanderson), but the ones here just did not have the substance to engage me. So many descriptions about almost everything and yet each one felt so empty. I had to skim so many pages, sometimes even reading just one paragraph or two, before going to the next page.
Guess what I missed? NOTHING.
Guys, you could literally cut this book to half and you can still get the same story and with the necessary descriptions. The “build up” was too much that it became stagnant quickly. Before long, it felt like it was just going in circles.
As for the main character, Sophie Bellamy (which is a pretty nice name, if I do say so myself), she could’ve been a great character if only she didn’t make me want to put toothpicks in my eyes just so my eyelids could stay open. I get that she’s someone who loved challenges, who wanted to save the people from the evil LeBlanc and save her brother from his clutches, but she just didn’t click with me. On paper, yes, she was someone flawed and perhaps a li’l complex, but I never really saw it in the book explicitly, especially in the first 50% in which I skimmed not a single page. She felt so flat.
I blame the narration for this, though. The writing in general was just so muddled, sloppy and long-winded that it failed to portray the depth of her character. Plus, there were also too many POVs, usually used in order to tell us why a side character did what they recently did. Which is a damn shame because not only did it limit the MC’s character development, the book was then forced to show those characters’ developments, too, which became even more limiting.
Plus, come on. When we’re talking about motives and agendas, it’s better to show it to us than tell. When one needs to use countless other POVs to do that, I think it’s a sign that maybe something else needs to be done. Something that involves not needing countless other POVs. x_x
And another plus, I wasn’t a fan of certain scenes where the MC wnet puppy eyes over the love interest, ESPECIALLY AFTER huge, important events. “OMG MY BROTHER GOT ARRESTED BUT oooohh I wonder what it would feel like if I touch René’s stubble…” (non-verbatim, but I swear there were too many of this kind of scenes in the first 50%. I mean, girl, seriously?!)
The same could be said for the plot. I love stories about vigilantes toppling evil governments and figureheads, but it was hard to get excited for the action when the book took its damn sweet time getting there, dragging unnecessary scenes to kingdom come. At this point, I was skimming a lot because GOOD LORD CAN WE GET TO THE MEAT OF THE STORY ALREADY?!
So when the climax happened, I was so relieved because this meant the ending would come, too. I mean, they have already achieved whatever their goal was. Usually, after that, you wrap things up and end the book in a (hopefully) promising, satisfactory note.
But jesus h. christ, this book really took “tedious” to the next level because that wrapping-up part? IT HAPPENED FROM 90% TO 100%. Do you see that? 10% of the book to wrap everything up.
If you want any idea of what my face looked like then, it was this:
(cue groans of “oh cooooome oooon!”)
I am bloody serious. Just when the climax happened and what should have been the ending, the book then decided to make one last anti-climactic hurrah true to its “dragging” fashion – 10% of drama and filler and pretty much scenes that should have been ELSEWHERE and not at the end of the book. At least that’s what I felt because they seriously looked ill-placed.
I don’t even care that this was set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian France. This book needed some serious editing.
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