Denae's Reviews > Obernewtyn

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
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Apr 02, 12

bookshelves: epic-fantasy, 1st-person-narrative
Read in December, 2011

Plot = 5 stars.
Writing style = 2 stars.
Character = 3 stars.
Setting = 5 stars.

There were often unexplainable breaks between chapters, minutes or days or hours that Elf didn't explain. She'd go from one place at the end of the chapter to a completely different place, and not always explain how long it had been or how she got there, and in doing so she'd skip some important scenes. Don't I want to see her getting chased by the wolves? No, we see her walking gaily along, and next page she's climbing out of a drift of snow, where she had fallen because the wolves had chased her there.
Elf is uninteresting. She has magic but barely uses it. Supposedly because she's scared she'll be discovered, but then the few times she does use it is around people she shouldn't (for the first half of the book). Her friendships are glossed over and insubstantial, even the bit with Maruman. I don't mind if she's a coward, but it feels inconsistent. For instance, why did she suddenly change her mind about wanting to escape the minute she got to Obernewtyn?
There are too many things in this novel that need fleshing out. I feel like I hardly understand the world, the characters, Obernewtyn. Especially her brother and Rosamunde. I know there are six more books, which helps.
Obernewtyn felt underdeveloped, especially if it's going to be so different in the next few books. How big is the valley, really? What makes it so horrible? How does the chain of command work? How many of the workers are misfits? How long would it take to get to the nearest civilization? Does everyone live in the manor, or are there farmhouses and things? Are there guards, or only the wolves plus the lead guardians? Elf just worked all day most of the time. A few times she slept most of the day . . . but there didn't seem to be any consequences. The most she got punished was that she had to skip breakfast once or twice, and so I didn't feel like those people were as opressed as they acted like they were. Not for there to be so many runaway attempts. They had work and food and weren't whipped or anything. The only really wrong thing was that Selmar was interrogated to insanity.
Oh, and there was a lack of culture. Legends (other than the druid dude)? Holidays? How were any of the cities different from another? What were the Herders' real roles? I didn't feel like the government (what there was) had very much authority.
I suspected that Ariel was the doctor's son, but, other than that, quite a few things were predictable. In a good way, though. I didn't see events from miles off. I didn't expect the Zebkrahn machine thing, for instance.
And Elf's magical powers were too powerful. And she almost never used them. Annoying to the fullest.
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