Kim Vandervort's Reviews > Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
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Jul 24, 12

Read in July, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I received this ARC from Comic-Con, and usually the peeps at Penguin Young Readers have quality stuff. This book... not so much.

I will say that the story is pretty decent and the plot races along quite well. The world building is strong, and the interweaving of stories from three different countries, plus that of the mysterious watchers, is well-paced, if predictable.

That said, characters are thinly developed, and the overtones of incest and the storyline of a young female having an affair with a man old enough to be her father seem too adult and are completely off-putting in what could otherwise be a good story. I'm a fan of George R. R. Martin specifically and high fantasy in general, and I would argue that what is appropriate and integral to the plot in his books feels tossed into this story for no apparent reason other than to try, unsuccessfully, to hop onto the Martin train.

My biggest beef is with the female characters themselves. One is a flawless Disney princess with no personality, given powers she doesn't understand, but is willing to use anyway without questioning why or what the consequences are. Another princess is a spineless spoiled brat who spends most of the book either crying, wringing her hands, or running off and doing stupid things without considering any of the consequences. The third major female character has an affair with a man who's at least 36 years old (she's 18) and decides to "die for love" for him when he gets killed. Princess #2 (the hand-wringer) also briefly contemplates suicide when her love interest dies.

The men, on the other hand, are pretty much angry bullies, with the exception of the secondary characters Nic and Theon, who indulge Cleo's every whim, no matter how stupid or ridiculous. Other than that, they don't get much screen time. I also liked Cleo's dad, even if he's a sucky parent who should have spanked her years earlier.

Honestly, I thought we were past the day when female characters were portrayed as weak, defenseless and completely incapable of intelligence, and men were stereotyped as the smart, strong protectors of the weak and stupid women who lived with them. Don't get me started on the whole "suicide for love" theme that runs through this book as well. Is this really what we want our young women to read?

This could have been SUCH a great novel, and I hope those looking for excellent high fantasy try Tamora Pierce instead.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Tammie (new) - added it

Tammie That's disappointing. It looked and sounded like it would be so good. I'm not sure I will read it now.


message 2: by Kim (new) - rated it 1 star

Kim Vandervort Tammie wrote: "That's disappointing. It looked and sounded like it would be so good. I'm not sure I will read it now."

The story is actually good, but I couldn't get past the more disturbing bits and the reduction of female characters to stereotypes. Given the high level of marketing planned for this book, Penguin/Razorbill doesn't seem to think it will be an issue, so maybe I'm just more conservative and more feminist than the average YA reader. :)


message 3: by Gerri (new)

Gerri Leen Sounds like the author may have been trying to jump on the Twilight train, as well. I, too, am appalled at the suicide for love (and life ends in your teens message). This is not the message I'd want young women talking away.


Sonali I absolutely agree! I couldn't finish this book. There is simply no excuse for these girls being so thoughtless and weak. Or evil.


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