Michelle's Reviews > Lastborn

Lastborn by Rachel Forde
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's review
Oct 29, 11

did not like it
bookshelves: 2011-reads, indies
Read in October, 2011

The book, Lastborn, chronicles the lives of two very different people: Black Wolf (aka Donovan Banning) who strongly believes in both justice and non-violent protest, and Nara-Ya (aka Ayuma), a young woman whose murderous temper provokes her into acts of cold-blooded aggression. In a very complex series of events, these two meet and band together to save their land from an evil witch and a despotic king.

The writing in Lastborn is some of the best I've seen in an indie novel. Not only is the language very smooth, but the descriptions are wonderful and detailed. Not detailed as in endlessly long, but detailed as in precise. Forde excels at painting pictures in the reader's mind. I also appreciated the characters of Black Wolf and Nara-Ya. They are complex individuals who are each trying in their own ways to right injustices. I loved how they grew as individuals and as a pair.

Unfortunately, there were a quite a few things that I didn't like as well. The biggest issue I had was with the book itself. I couldn't tell what it was. When it began, it seemed like a story of indigenous people fighting against colonists. Then a unicorn showed up. Then the story shifted yet again to an urban setting in which Donovan was struggling to unionize workers from the iron works, giving things a quasi-steampunk feel. Finally, midway through the novel, the native peoples theme came back into play. These diverse sub-genres did not make for a good mix. A steampunk unicorn might be a unique story element, but that doesn't mean it's a good one.

The book also contained so many different peoples, countries, villains, and secondary characters that it was very difficult to keep everyone straight. Admittedly, this was written as an epic novel; however,there was only one major plot. Without significant subplots, all those characters were superfluous. The pacing was also very slow. Months would pass with the characters doing nothing but waiting.

Lastborn has potential. I'd love to see the author edit it by tightening up the plot, losing a number of minor characters, and focusing on one sub-genre. Although I didn't care for this book, I do think that the author's talent shows.
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