Nafiza's Reviews > Prophecy

Prophecy by Ellen Oh
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Mar 16, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: read-2012, source-edelweiss
Read on December 13, 2012

I had been looking forward to Prophecy ever since I read the synopsis. It sounds so bloody fantastic. But alas.

Okay, this may be unfair considering that the novel is Oh’s debut but I could not help but compare Prophecy to Eon/Eona. Considering the thematic nature and the similarities in not just setting but also subject matter, comparisons are inevitable. The Eon/Eona duology, though not without flaws, is a sophisticated work where prose, plotting and characterization are concerned. The novels are well thought out and the world building is detailed and exquisite. So when I say the bar was set high…it would be an understatement.

Prophecy is original in that the setting is a mythical Korea and while we have seen mythical Japan, we, or at least I, have not seen a Korean setting for any YA novel. I studied Korean for four years in University and I can speak and write it though not as fluently as I would like to. I am also familiar with the culture and the food of the place though I am not a great aficionado of the pop music. Dramas are what I love and keep reading for a chance to see me cast Prophecy with Korean actors. Anyway, back to the review.

Kira could have been a very interesting character had Oh given her a chance to develop on her own rather than handing all aspects and facets of her personality to us. Showing rather than telling would have been better and the pacing is a bit too fast. Oh relies too much on reader familiarity with the trope. What I mean by this is that though readers have seen many female warriors in fantasy novels, each one is different and each one deserves careful development. Kira doesn’t get that development. We meet her and are immediately flung into the action. There needed to be more visual descriptions – that would have served to slow the pace as well as give us secondhand information about Kira – how she kept her room, what was in her room, her private conversations with her mother – these would have spoken immensely about her character. I also did not appreciate how the court ladies were immediately shoved into a stereotype – there was no delicacy to this and I would have loved to see something extra, a quick explanation about these court ladies, an explanation of their motivations and an understanding beyond the superficial “they hate me because I am not feminine like them.” Also, I really did not buy the hatred the King has for Kira. I would think that saving his son would be enough to overrule his objections to her femininity.

It would have been so awesome to see a scene where Kira’s parents receive gifts from the uncle who wants his nephew to marry Kira. There was potential for so much in the way the gifts would have been received and Kira’s reaction to the gifts and to the evidence that someone desired her as she was and not as she should be. Instead, we have the first side of a love triangle forcefully established as Kira faces the dude who wants to marry her and instead of being totally repulsed by him she is unwillingly intrigued and that is it to their relationship. There is no gradual growth or conversation or any communication really apart from him popping up at odd intervals vowing to take Kira back as she is his betrothed and he cannot wait to have her writhing beneath him. I’m rolling my eyes here.

The other love interest, Jae something, is very interesting and perhaps one of the few people I was really intrigued by. The prince is very annoying simply because he is not very princely. If there is trouble to be got into, he gets into it. I would think that he being the prince of a country, would be aware of his importance to his people and would act thusly. However, he lacks the gravitas which is a bit unbelieving because despite his young age, he has been brought up to be the next king so it makes no sense that he would insist on going to places and in situations that could potentially kill him.

The pacing, as I have said, felt rushed and the plotting didn’t appeal to me either. Korean culture and myth is so rich and so many of the mythical elements could have been worked into the narrative. Alas, not many of them were and I was just disappointed.

There were a lot of terms used in the narrative that I hope will be placed in a glossary so that those not familiar with the language will be able to better visualize and understand.
I have now written an essay on the book. Sorry. If it’s tl:dr, just take this away: I wish I could have liked the novel a lot more than I did. It did not live up to my expectations. However, don’t take my word for it. Make up your own mind.
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02/18/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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Eden ...But there are demons mentioned, not dragons. There's only a Dragon King Prophecy. :S


Nafiza What? Did I read wrong? Let me read again. Yes, the prophecy! Dragon King prophecy. There has to be a dragon if there is a king? I don't like the cover though. Do you?


Eden Nafiza wrote: "What? Did I read wrong? Let me read again. Yes, the prophecy! Dragon King prophecy. There has to be a dragon if there is a king? I don't like the cover though. Do you?"

But maybe the prophecy/king is just called a dragon? (There are lotsa dragon-name references in Chinese lore.) I'm with you, though, I'd love to see dragons.

Re: cover--I don't mind it too much, it's just a combination of bad choices. Weird fonts, no solid colour scheme and random wisp around a something's-off-jewel. I do like the background. Reminds me of runes.


Nafiza I, too, like the background. I don't like the font, the placement of the title, the weird smoke thingy, the jewel and the byline. The byline especially induces eye rolls from yours truly. However, does this affect how much I want to read this book? Not a single percent.


message 5: by Bethany (new)

Bethany "Dragons, sword play, demon chasing, a hint of romance, and a quest for the truth of purpose all make "Prophecy" exactly the kind of story to read with a youngster or all on your own."
I snagged it from a reviewer. There are in fact dragons apparently.


Nafiza Ha!!! Dragons ftw!


Eden Bethany wrote: ""Dragons, sword play, demon chasing, a hint of romance, and a quest for the truth of purpose all make "Prophecy" exactly the kind of story to read with a youngster or all on your own."
I snagged it..."


YAY! And plus only "a hint of romance"! Little enough that they didn't even mention it in the official summary. * rejoices*


message 8: by Linda (new)

Linda Seems like a lot of people were disappointed with this one...


Nafiza I know I was. I'm being VERY generous with 3 stars. It could slide down. A lot. Writing a review for this one is going to be very interesting.


message 10: by Eden (new) - rated it 2 stars

Eden Nooo why :(


Krispy Looking forward to your review. I was so excited about this one, but then I started seeing the mixed reviews and could see where this might be disappointing for me. :(


Nafiza I shall get on with the review as soon as I can!


Steph Sinclair I completely agree with your review. And what you said about the prince is spot on. He was deliberately placed in danger just so Kira could show off how strong she was. Where was his training? I'm no expert on royals, but don't they usually start training the younger boys in combat from a young age? At least, this is the impression Hollywood has given me. Ha.


Nafiza Not just Hollywood, if you watch the Kdramas I've watched them, those poor kids start their training before they even take their first step which only makes sense since they are going to be ruling a country. But hey, it's not just me right, there were no other girl characters besides Kira?


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) Yes, Nafiza, I am with you one hundred percent on everything you said! Well, maybe not the bits about Korean culture, because my only education came from kdramas, so I really can't make much of a judgment call there.

I had such high hopes, as you did, and they were dashed among the rocks of my good intentions. All of the characters lacked in development. Where are the scenes of characters interacting about anything outside of the book's main conflict, so we can get a sense of them as individuals?

In my review, I wrote a whole paragraph complaining about the prince as well. He would have, by twelve, had endless lessons on deportment and on basic self-defense. He acts more like he's five than twelve. Even with bodyguards, they would not leave him personally defenseless, especially since he's such a target and he's able-bodied and healthy.


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) Also, no, I don't think there really were any other young girl characters besides Kira. There may have been reference to some making eyes at her betrothed and judging her, but nothing remotely constructive or important.


Nafiza See, I figured this was so. A construction of a reverse harem. (Kdramas are awesome!)


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) (Kdramas are so great, I agree. They are the only thing that got me through this book, because I was imagining one in my head as I read.)


Steph Sinclair I have never seen a Kdrama, so there was nothing to help me through this book but sheer willpower.

Also, all other females were pretty much killed.


Nafiza Not gonna lie, if it weren't for the kdrama in my head, I would have given up on this book.


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) Nafiza wrote: "Not gonna lie, if it weren't for the kdrama in my head, I would have given up on this book."

I had to finish, but it would have been slower.

Also, Steph, you need to start watching kdrama, so we can have something else nerdy to flail over!


Nafiza You'll create a monster, Christina! Haha. I'm watching I Miss You recently and siiiighhhhhhh.


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) I'm watching Flower Boy Ramen Shop (do not judge them by the crazy names, Steph! They are addictive, I promise) and it is hilarious. Also, I want the one guy to just be shirtless all the time. There is much shirtless in it, actually, and I APPROVE.


Nafiza Ooo!! I watched that! Pwahaha. There's Shut Up also - the second installment in the Flower Boy series. It's a bit more serious but the bromance is awesome.


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) I didn't know it was a series!


Steph Sinclair LOL, if I pick up another addiction, my family will never see me again! Also, the titles are similar to a lot of shojo manga I've read.


Nafiza Yeah, it's crack. It sucks you in and throws you out two or so months later. :\


Christina (A Reader of Fictions) Very true. Also, I didn't know you liked manga, Steph! You are even more dear to me!


Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) Jess wrote: "FUCK YOU PEOPLE. THIS BOOK WAS ABSOLUTELY AMAZINGLY FANTASTIC!!! Y'all are just MEAN, RUDE, and most of all STUPID."

please hold that idiotic statement in mind while I find a choice gif to use...


Nafiza Haha. <3


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