Edward Gordon's Reviews > Switched

Switched by Amanda Hocking
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Jul 15, 11

Read in March, 2011

If I didn’t feel duty bound to review self-published gothic works, especially when they become incredibly popular, I probably wouldn’t have reviewed this book. If I’d known when I started reading this book that by the time I finished it the author, Amanda Hocking, would go on to sign with St. Martin’s Press for a $2 million four-book deal, and the film rights to her Trylle Trilogy (of which “Switched” is the first book) was going to be sold to Media Rights Capital, I definitely would not have reviewed it, because I want to spend my time on more under-represented yet higher quality works.

“Switched” (Amanda Hocking via Kindle Books, July 2010) is a Cinderella tale for the 21st century. It’s a juvenile story about a teenage girl, Wendy, who happens to be a troll (They look just like everyone else, apparently.). Wendy was switched at birth in the hospital by the Trylles (Trylle being the collective term for trolls.) so she could grow up in a rich family and later be tracked down and taken back to the Trylle community where her inheritance would ultimately go to the Kingdom of Trylle, known as Forening. Only Wendy isn’t any ordinary troll. Sure, she has psychic gifts just like all trolls, but in Forening she’s also a princess, and her real mother, of course, is the queen of Forening.

I would like to say there’s something to this story, but there really isn’t. Wendy predictably develops a crush on her sexy captor (a troll tracker named Finn), and she goes through the pains of learning to be a princess after he takes her from her human family to her biological family in Forening. There she is lavished with attention, prestige, wealth, and admiration and is even the subject of a botched kidnapping by the troll enemies of Forening during a grand ball held in her honor. Yet in spite of all that, she decides she doesn’t want to be a princess. She doesn't like the way her queen-mom does business, and she misses her human family, which consists of her brother, aunt, and the boy she was changed with at birth whom she finds in Forening.

Unfortunately, her changeling mother isn’t in the picture anymore because she took a butcher's knife to Wendy when she was a little girl, knowing full well that Wendy wasn’t her real daughter, or even a human being for that matter. She refused to accept that she had given birth to Wendy, and though her changeling mother was right all along, she was put in a mental institution nonetheless. If the story’s starting to sound familiar, it should.

The rip offs in this plot from modern movies like “Twilight,” “The Princess Diaries,” and “The Changeling” (staring Angelina Jolie) make for a very unoriginal work that even on its own is downright boring to read. At best it’s an escapist fantasy piece for young girls with low self-esteem. And perhaps that’s its charm, because there’s no denying that Amanda Hocking’s books, and this trilogy in particular, have sold very well. She’s become a multi-millionaire from them.

But I have to say “Switched” does nothing to advance the cause of modern gothic literature. Even the uncommon use of trolls that look just like humans comes off as a desperate, somewhat silly attempt to avoid using all the other over-farmed mythical creatures, such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, etc., that have already been cashed in on by other authors.

As well, the reading grade level of the writing is very low, and this will do nothing to improve the minds of the young girls who read this book. But Hocking has made a pile of cash in no time at all self-publishing it, and for some authors that’s what writing is all about. Perhaps I’m no one to judge.

Nevertheless, I’m giving this book my lowest rating, one ghost, not because the writing is bad or the formatting is bad, because that isn’t the case. In fact, during the first half of the book I found Hocking to be somewhat witty and pithy, and I liked the way the queen of trolls really acts like a troll by being curmudgeonly, stealing money, and running scams on humans with changelings. What warrants such a low rating is that the book harms the genre in terms of respect. If it were the opposite, if it were original and moved gothic literature forward, I’d give it my highest rating. But in the end, it’s just another fat-dripping burger added to an already bloated menu of McGothic tripe available to readers who don’t know any better than to consume it.

Edward Gordon
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Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex Think anyone will start a series about leprechauns ? Fairies ? Maybe we should . These books show there r people out there who will read ANYTHING !

message 2: by Edward (last edited Apr 04, 2011 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Edward Gordon Alex wrote: "Think anyone will start a series about leprechauns ? Fairies ? Maybe we should . These books show there r people out there who will read ANYTHING !"

Good point, Alex. Thanks for reading my review.

message 3: by Brittney (new)

Brittney Thank you for your post! I was just about to buy this book for my Nook but I have honestly read too many Cinderella books its driving me crazy.Its like they say one thing on the back and you read it and its such a rip off. Thanks again!!!!

message 4: by Brittney (new)

Brittney Also her book is only .99 cents on Barnes and Noble that says something. :)

Colby ^Most self published authors sell their works like that.

I really wasn't a huge fan of Switched, but I thought that the series got better as it went.

Leila Loved your review, especially the comments on the video as well.

message 7: by Kristina (new)

Kristina Actually, The Princess Diaries movies were based in books that Meg Cabot wrote. Just FYI...

Karen Spot on review. I'm so tired of YA Fantasy or Paranormal Romance with the sappy, weak female as the lead. I'm disturbed that young girls today buy into that role so completely. I'm a little embarrassed that I jumped on the gold box deal and actually paid a couple of dollars for this book. Alas, I cannot say I only wasted 99 cents. Back out to search for a strong young heroine...

message 9: by Annerliegh (new)

Annerliegh Grace McCall I though the review was quite reasonable. If a young person is simply looking for a thrill then fine, but I guess it's the writer's job to make something worthwhile in that, so maybe the young writer didn't achieve this, and it may not have been her purpose in any case. Sometimes we write because we are simply looking for a fantasy. I appreciated Kristina's one liner comment, aptly put.

message 10: by Tasha (new)

Tasha I agree wholeheartedly. This book did nothing for me.

Stephanie Great to finally find a review that reflected my own views on this horrendous book! I couldn't even bring myself to finish it!

message 12: by Natasa (new)

Natasa But in the end, it’s just another fat-dripping burger added to an already bloated menu of McGothic tripe available to readers who don’t know any better than to consume it.

HA! Too true.

message 13: by Nova (new) - rated it 2 stars

Nova Amazing review, I absolutely agree.

★ ☆ Booksaholic ★ ☆ You know, i liked this series and i thought it got better in each book. Everyone is talking about the money she is making but i think she kind of just got lucky with the book and movie deals. Isn't that what every author wants? Their books to be popular, what is she supposed to do give it all away for free?

Sonja Thanks for your review but I like the books!

message 16: by Emily (new) - rated it 1 star

Emily Bissel I loved your review. I'm 18 and I guess girls my age are supposed to like these types of books, but I found that trying to force myself to read this series is as awful as trying to down a whole bottle of vodka in one sitting. Impossible, horrible, and making me sick. I wish people my age could disregard all the hype over books like these and read something actually worth reading. Like Kafka, Calvino, Lovecraft, Plath, and Marquez, just to name a few. And then there are also so many unrecognized authors out there who have created these brilliant works but many people I know regard them as "those stuffy books school makes us read but all we really do is sparknote it." I admit that I have wasted so much time reading these teen books in the past but after discovering the works of Kafka, Plath, and Rulfo during a year studying creative writing, I have barely been able to read teen books. Sometimes I'll stumble upon a few standouts, but they're usually the ones that are collecting dust and hidden in the darkest corners of the bookshelves. Those dusty books, though, are the books I have grown fond of. Some of the books that are being passed off as literature now days is sickening, like the Fifty Shades of Grey series. A terrible series that women are raving about because it's "mommy porn." Those books are corrupting literature...
I digress, though, and if I continue with this I will find myself involved in a much longer, unneeded rant. All I know is that one day, I hope to write something that's worth reading. I will never stoop so low as writing because I want the fame and money from it. I will write because I want to enrich minds; I want people my age and older to read my books and grow from them.
I wish more people my age could see that series like these are doing nothing for their minds. I wish they could experience the beauty that so many other books have to offer.

message 17: by Steph (new) - rated it 1 star

Steph Couldn't agree with you more about this book.

message 18: by Nicole (new)

Nicole DeVaney Thank you so much for your review of this book. You saved me from wasting time reading this series when I could have been reading something worthwhile.

I also want to add my own frustrations with this genre. I find fantasy and dystopian fiction to be very hit-or-miss, not due to lack of original plot line (I could read a modern fairytale any day) but because original and strong MCs are lacking. I need an MC to have depth (beyond her years in a YA). I don't even care if parts of the storyline is based off another book if the author can give me a character with something unique to say. I want to care about her. I want to root for her! Overall, I think the genre would benefit by making books more character vs. plot driven.

Edward Gordon Every now and again, I see in my e-mail that someone has liked this review, or disliked it. I'm amazed how it's continued to attract attention over the years. I'm also pleased that Amanda Hocking's books, apparently, are still being read after all this time.

To be quite honest, literary standards on Kindle were higher at the time I originally wrote this review. Today I would have given her much more credit by grading her on the curve. I think Amanda Hocking has the ability to be a great novelist, if that's what she wants to be, and I honestly hope that's what she wants to be.

If she does not, then I hope her commercial success with this novel and the two others that were part of the Trylle trilogy have enabled her to pursue her heart's desire.

Way back when, when I first posted this review on her blog, her fans hated me for it, and they let me know in no uncertain terms, but she was entirely gracious and welcomed my candid review of her work. I don't think there's any more I could ask of a writer than that. We all, after all, do the best we can with what we have at the moment.

I truly hope Ms. Hocking keeps writing novels that obviously so many people want to read. I think she is in the end, inspiring. :)

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