Ryan Mishap's Reviews > Bitterblue

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
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's review
Jul 08, 12

bookshelves: young-adult-fantasy

Good novels tend to focus on characters and their relationships as much as action or plot and Cashore generally does a fine job of illuminating the complicated ways people interact and the mix of emotions any relationship produces. This is a welcome alternative to some of those fantasy novels that are all plot, action, action. A major plot and action can't be ignored, however, and Bitterblue seemed to me to be a collection of subplots bereft of an overarching plot. This is not necessarily a bad thing always, but in this case I think a more prominent major plot line would have steeled the narrative as it tends to repeat certain aspects (like many a mystery or fantasy book these days, a large swath of it could have been cut with no ill effect*).

I have to applaud, also, the attempt to impose a rough sort of realism on Bitterblue's kingdom, but this trend dissolves into governmental platitudes (parallels to our own world can be read into the text: Obama's administration has refused to look at the criminality of the Bush administration saying we need to look forward--in Bitterblue, the Policy is called Forward Thinking and criminal charges will not be brought against those who were forced to help the previous evil regime). Like Tracy said, Cashore had ambitions she failed to fulfill--but I guess there will be more books.

*Too much of the book consisted of Bitterblue wondering about the past, having a crisis in her rooms, fretting, then suddenly resolved, ready to act only to fret again and so on. One or two examples of this emotional turmoil would have been enough for us to get the idea. More examples can be found. Books are too long these days. Editors! Pick up thy red pens!

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