Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I personally prefer the first cover, what do you guys think?

435 pages
Published: 05/19/2015 by Del Rey Books
Genres: YA Fantasy, Action, Romance, Magic, Polish Folktales

Hello readers! I, Sarah, have braved the waters of school, homework, and parental control to bring you this book review.

Summary (Taken from Goodreads): “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

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.

After a moment, he said, in almost marveling tones, “Are you deranged?

Dragon pg 19

What was great and what was also great?

I recently finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik (and by recently I mean 2 days ago) and I had to review it.

I first heard of the book on Goodreads (where else!) – it was getting great advance praise. So obviously I was excited –  and when it finally was released, it got even better reviews. I had really high expectations: it had a great summary, cool setting and a totally new fantasy world to explore.

So I’m pleased to say that this book did not meet my expectations.

It went above and beyond what I had hoped for. This book has entered the realms of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and Cinder (and I compare it to them because it has a little from each of them.) Here’s why:

First of all, when I started reading it, one of the first things I noticed was the the style of writing. It was in the point of view of Agnieszka (pronouced Ag-NYESH-Ka ~ and yay for diverse names!). I don’t know if it was just me, but I really liked the way information was conveyed in the story – a mixture of first person and omniscient. It was also a plus that she was not and I repeat, was not, a damsel in distress – she had strong feelings on the topic of The Dragon (not insta-love, more of insta-butcher).

And this was all on behalf of her best friend Kasia. (On that note, female friendships – the real kind – in YA make me really happy)

Agnieszka was a multidimensional character. She had a personality that made her stand out and feel real. She wasn’t spineless: there is no Mary-Sue aspect to her. When she needs to do something, she will go out and get em – doing everything to the best of her abilities. She was tomboyish and relatable – but my enjoyment of the characters didn’t stop with her.

Mrs.Novik made and effort to make all her characters and relationships three dimensional. A quick example would be Agnieszka (plain, coltish and klutzy) and Kasia’s (beautiful, kind, perfect) relationship. Although they were childhood friends, their friendship and bond are constantly tested and evolved throughout the novel. That’s not to say that the other character didn’t evolve (or that we did not gain new understandings). The Dragon (not a real dragon, mind you) as well as the other magicians were very interesting players(romantically or practically)  in the fantastical world.

Speaking of the world, it was very well built (almost medieval-ish) although at first, I didn’t understand every aspect of what was going on or why, whenever Agnieszka’s world view expanded(or she learned something), the reader would too (and I thought that was very cool). There was no boring or tedious info-dumping – or bits of useless information: everything written or said had an important use.

The bits of information did speed up the plot –  every time something would be revealed, my plot prediction would change. I’m almost embarrassed to say that this book ended my plot guessing streak: I did not see that particular ending coming. The story line kept me reading: I was eager to see how it all ended. My only complaint would be the book’s changing of pace. Whenever I thought I had reached the climax, often it was just another event , and that event’s solution would somehow contribute to the book’s main problem. Sometimes, I wasn’t even sure who was a main character (apart from Agnieszka) because so many characters would pop in and out of the story. This also made it hard to define relationships, but I felt that at the end, everything was satisfactorily tied up.

Agnieszka was still independent, my ship hadn’t sunk yet and the main problem was solved. I rate it a solid 5 out of 5 stars…

…But I still think I need a sequel now so pretty please Naomi Novik?

And if you, like me, are suffering through post-awesome-book-withdrawal, check out Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones (literally one of the only books I own).

~ Sarah ❤

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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