Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror)'s Reviews > Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
2016128
I think this is the point where Marchetta and I go our separate ways. I read Saving Francesca and didn't enjoy it, and thought maybe it was just my aversion to realistic/contemporary fiction that was keeping me from riding the Marchetta love-train. After this second attempt I think she's just not for me. There isn't one thing I can point out that makes me say "this" is why I don't like her books, but there are numerous problems I can draw attention to.

My biggest gripe is that the plot hinges on assumptions made by numerous characters. What I mean by this is: if Evanjalin had revealed her secret early on then a lot of the problems that cropped up wouldn't have manifested. Although, Marchetta does address this by having one of the characters point out to Finnikin that if he knew the truth then he wouldn’t have made the right choices. So we have assumptions on top of assumptions now. Evanjalin constantly keeps secrets from them: both big and small ones. She puts everyone on a need to know basis, and makes their journey harder by doing so. I can’t even count how many times I wanted to shake her and tell her just to be straight with them. It was beyond frustrating.

And THEN, when her secret is revealed, everyone treats Evanjalin like she’s a saint and did no wrong-doing; suddenly, she's up on this pedestal and can't be touched. This felt so manufactured and inorganic. Everyone acts differently and practically out-of-character from how they were just a few chapters ago. I can understand some of this to a point, but the complete 180 everyone did just didn't sit well with me. Surprisingly, Finnikin was the only one who still acted marginally the same.

Evanjalin manipulates everyone and everything around her, without any regret. She is largely of the mind that "the ends justify the means" and does whatever the hell she wants. Evanjalin knows best and everyone else can just suck it. I understand she went through more than any person should have to endure, but her actions and her attitude throughout the book did not endear me to her. I liked Finnikin until he decided that he was in love with Evanjalin; which was yet another thing that didn’t occur naturally. Evanjalin lies, manipulates, and somewhat betrays everyone in her traveling party, even Finnikin, and everyone just accepts this and falls in love with her. It's so mind-boggling.

Then we have Froi. I will never get over what he did, and I honestly don't understand why Marchetta had his character do what he did, because it didn't fit with the image she created of him for the rest of the book. You want me to like him? Well, don’t make him (view spoiler) I don’t care what sort of environment someone grows up in, I can't imagine anyone (view spoiler)

Then there are two nit-picky things that were always in the back of my head. Finnikin learns the Yut language within a few days. And, from what I gather, the Yut language is very different from any of the other languages, as it’s described as being guttural and full of grunts (166), so it’s not like it’s just a dialect of another language or even a close sister-language. Finnikin is also a wiz when it comes to learning new languages, and I understand that, but to be able to make complex proclamations in a language you’ve only been taught in a matter of days is incredibly implausible.

Also, we have the multiple races (different skin/eye/hair color combinations are constantly remarked on) all living on one tiny island. There is a reason that almost 99% of the people in Japan are Japanese (even taking into account their tendency towards xenophobia). You just won't find so many different ethnicities living on such a small land mass, and even if this did somehow exist, they would eventually interbreed to the point where everyone would be a mix of everyone else. And, considering the remark Trevanion makes about the Yuts being at war for the past 10,000 years (175), this makes the fact that there are so many races even more unbelievable. And why are the people who live in the hot tropical climates fair-skinned with pale eyes (171)? The closer you are to the sun, the darker you’ll be in order to survive. This is such a weird thing to overlook.

I also felt like the magic and religion of this world were thrown together rather haphazardly. Nothing is really explained all that much and you’re just supposed to accept things for what they are. I don't mind not having info dumps about everything, but at least eventually let me into the club so I know what the rules are. Evanjalin explains (view spoiler) And the religion seemed pointless as well, when it didn't even factor into anything other than having a place to sequester people. I didn’t understand placing so much emphasis on Sagrami and Lagrami worshippers, other than to have a convenient group of people to persecute.

Marchetta is a competent writer, but I don’t think she’s a good story-teller. There are too many things I can pick at and too many issues I have with her characters that I just find myself unable to enjoy her books as a whole. This is likely my last chance I'm giving her, because I normally like fantasy so much more than contemporary, and this one had almost as many issues for me as Francesca did. I know lots of people love Marchetta, but in this book lots of people love Evanjalin too, and I think in both instances I'm just not drinking the right Kool-aid.
134 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Finnikin of the Rock.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

10/10/2011 page 0
0.0% "Read-along with Mossy Moss Moss. Even though she smells like a hyena."
10/10/2011 page 15
4.0% "Ok, so obviously I know where Finnikin is, they don't know where Balthazar is, but the third friend, Lucian, has yet to even be mentioned. Where's he, huh?"
10/10/2011 page 25
6.0% "I'm really glad this has maps."
10/10/2011 page 57
14.0% "Argh. Who the heck is the priest king?"
10/10/2011 page 58
15.0% "Still filled with his own anger, Finnikin walked over and grabbed him by the hair.
"My mother, unlike yours, never exchanged sexual favors for a piece of silver," he said, addressing the first insult by banging the boy's head against the trunk of a tree. "And," he said with another resounding thump, "although I'm very familiar with that part of the female body, I take offense at being labeled one.""
10/10/2011 page 63
16.0% "He held her up and wiped her face with the hem of his shirt. Their eyes met, and he saw a bleakness there that made him choke. Suddenly he wanted the power to wipe such hopelessness away. That moment in front of the guards, he had allowed emotion to cloud his reason. Yet he felt no regret. He understood, with a clarity that confused him, that if anyone dared touch her again, his sword would not stay in it scabbard."
10/10/2011 page 65
16.0% "He could feel Evanjalin's eyes on him as the sun before them disappeared at a speed beyond reckoning. "Then I will demand that you speak Lumateran when we are alone," Evanjalin said, interrupting his thoughts.
"Will you?" he mocked. "And why is that?"
"Because without our language, we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words?""
10/10/2011 page 65
16.0% ""In some kingdoms, they have removed all traces of Lumatere from the exiles. We are in their land now and will speak their tongue or none at all. Our punishment for the pathetic course of our lives."
"So men cease to speak," she sad softly."
10/10/2011 page 67
17.0% "Oh, man. Now that's a prophecy that will hang over your head."
10/10/2011 page 71
18.0% "Wtf, Evanjalin?"
10/11/2011 page 93
23.0% ""I will ask you this once and then I never want it spoken of again," his father said quietly.

:'(

"
10/11/2011 page 113
28.0% ""You are evil," he seethed.
"Oh, the way that word is thrown around!" she said. "Everything is evil that humans can't control or conquer.""
10/11/2011 page 118
30.0% "Now that I know who Froi is, I don't think I want to read the second book. Lucy, know what I mean?" 31 comments
10/18/2011 page 179
45.0% ""Have you forgotten your childhood in Lumatere?" Finnikin asked quietly when the guide signaled they were close to the fort.
"No," she said. "I remember every single moment and will until the day I die."

Good lord, Evanjalin. Do have to be so morose all the time?

"
10/18/2011 page 188
47.0% "Must be nice to be able to learn an entirely new language in just a few days." 9 comments
11/05/2011 page 256
64.0% "Alright, Evanjalin is pissing me off now."
11/05/2011 page 300
75.0% "Why lie when the one secret Evanjalin kept from them until now would have made them all listen to and believe her? I don't get the point of deceiving them for so long." 2 comments
11/08/2011 page 309
77.0% "So the reason they kept the secret from Finnikin was because they assumed if he knew the truth he wouldn't make the right choices. I love it when the whole plot hinges on assumptions."
11/08/2011 page 316
79.0% "Ha, it'd be funny if they all walked through the gate and died. Wah wah, end of story." 1 comment
11/11/2011 page 399
100.0% "I think I just have to accept the fact that Marchetta is not for me." 15 comments

Comments (showing 43-92)





message 92: by Lucy (new)

Lucy probably-shouldn-t-read? Don't expect to like it?


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) No, I don't. : (

This is my second chance for her, and I'm hoping I like her fantasy more than her contemporary ya.


message 90: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Me too!

Even the book I liked of hers, I found I disliked how it was written and yet I decided to buy this one last week. I am a slow learner.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Heh. You should read it with me so then I'm not the only crazy one if this happens to suck.


message 88: by Lucy (new)

Lucy I started reading it a little today and immediately started yawning... I'll commit some hours to it tomorrow and see how it goes!


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) I actually stuck it in my calendar so I'd get reminders to read 100 or so pages every day this week until I finish it. I try a bit harder when I'm buddy-reading something ... not too much harder, but a bit, lol.


message 86: by Lucy (new)

Lucy I'm a pretty slow reader, a couple of hours might mean 100 pages. Especially when I'm not into it. I find myself needing to do my laundry lol


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Lucy, you might actually enjoy this one. It feels like it's a completely different person who wrote it.


message 83: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Not so far... very slow for me.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Hmm. Perhaps it's because it's fantasy I'm enjoying it more? Also, I like Finnikin more than all of the characters in Francesca combined.

Oh, you read Jellicoe too ... Does this one remind you of that? I've only read Francesca and Finnikin feels nothing like it.


message 81: by Lucy (new)

Lucy For some reason the details in her books run together for me. I got name soup from all of Francesca's little friends and I didn't enjoy the tactics she used in Jellicoe to dilute the story enough to remain a mystery. I'm having a hard time getting into the world building for Finnikin, so a differently problem with every book I guess.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Ok, makes sense. Do you normally read or like a lot of epic fantasy?


message 79: by Lucy (new)

Lucy I just read all but the last A Song of Fire and Ice book. I liked them fine. I bitched about all the POVs while reading it, but I think I kept better track of all the characters because of it in retrospect.


message 78: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling I am watching you read this with great interest. As you know, I wasn't the biggest Saving Francesca fan either but I keep hearing this one is totally better/different. BUT I'm not a huge traditional fantasy person, either! Wah wah wah. :D


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) I've lost a bit of interest. I've also become increasingly annoyed with certain aspects and I have a feeling I'd like it better if it was about 100 pages shorter. : \


message 76: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling Hm. I'll await the final verdict.


message 75: by Wendy Darling (last edited Nov 11, 2011 05:19PM) (new)

Wendy Darling Marchetta is a competent writer, but I don’t think she’s a good story-teller.

I just finished On the Jellicoe Road, and I think this is very true for that, too. I rated it 3.5 - 4 stars because she technically pulled off a pretty neat trick and I liked some of the writing quite a bit and I teared up a couple of times...but there were a lot of choices that I really, really didn't like as well. I'm thinking this author is probably just not for me either--I've given it 3 books now, all raves from most of my friends, but there's just something missing in them for me.

After reading this, I think I can skip Finnikin, too.


message 74: by [deleted user] (new)

Excellent review, and you raise some also excellent points re the contradictions in the book. I liked that you committed enough to the story to care about them -- which is probably where my failure to star properly kicked in. The writing never engaged me, so the minutiae of the plot were meaningless to me, and I couldn't care less what Evanjalin represented etc. Your way has a lot more integrity: you actually thought about it. Bravo!


message 73: by Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) (last edited Nov 11, 2011 05:21PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Wendy Darling wrote: "I just finished On the Jellicoe Road, and I think this is very true for that, too. I rated it 3.5 - 4 stars because she technically pulled of a really neat trick and I liked some of the writing quite a bit and I teared up a couple of times...but there were a lot of choices that I really didn't like as well. I'm thinking this author is probably just not for me either--I've given it 3 books now, all raves from most of my friends, but there's just something missing in them for me."

Yeah, I had my heartstrings tugged a couple of times (by Finnikin's father, of all people) and I can appreciate the amount of work it takes to create a brand new world like this ... but it just doesn't work as a whole. It needs more editing, or ... something.

I tend to not like any of her female characters either, which is odd, and I have to at least somewhat like the main character to enjoy the book.


message 72: by [deleted user] (new)

The Holy Terror wrote: "Yeah, I had my heartstrings tugged a couple of times (by Finnikin's father, of all people) and I can appreciate the amount of work it takes to create a brand new world like this ... but it just doe..."


Yeah, I think that was part of the happy feel I had at the end, the worldbuilding was good and she packed a lot into a relatively short book. I thought the writing lacked the emotional depth the story demanded, and I think I agree, Evanjalin was an underdeveloped character. Too much mystery in an already mysterious situation.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Moss wrote: "The writing never engaged me, so the minutiae of the plot were meaningless to me, and I couldn't care less what Evanjalin represented etc. Your way has a lot more integrity: you actually thought about it. Bravo!"

Lol, your way is so strange to me, but thanks.

I think whenever I take the time to read something, no matter what it is, I try to see it from every angle. If it's not engaging, I try to figure out why. If I hate it/love it, same thing.

Maybe I just like to pick at things. : \


message 70: by [deleted user] (new)

The Holy Terror wrote: "Maybe I just like to pick at things. : \ "


Or possibly it's something more prosaic, like: you're not as lamearse lazy as I am and have a work ethic, which I utterly lack.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Moss wrote: "I thought the writing lacked the emotional depth the story demanded, and I think I agree, Evanjalin was an underdeveloped character."

Yes, I very much agree with the first part, but I think Evanjalin was a bit too developed. I knew too much about her and still thought she was a turd.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Moss wrote: "Or possibly it's something more prosaic, like: you're not as lamearse lazy as I am and have a work ethic, which I utterly lack."

Lol, no, I'm incredibly lazy. But you! You're a speed-demon! I think maybe if you slowed down and actually (view spoiler) then maybe you'd be as picky as me.

One can only hope.


message 67: by [deleted user] (new)

The Holy Terror wrote: "Yes, I very much agree with the first part, but I think Evanjalin was a bit too developed. I knew too much about her and still thought she was a turd.
"


Hm well my memory of it is reasonably blurred given I didn't care much about the characters, but from what I remember all her actions are cloaked in An Aura Of Mystery And Oooh What WILL She Do Next, and not much else. Or at least that's the prevailing memory I've carried away of her.


message 66: by [deleted user] (new)

The Holy Terror wrote: "Moss wrote: "Or possibly it's something more prosaic, like: you're not as lamearse lazy as I am and have a work ethic, which I utterly lack."

Lol, no, I'm incredibly lazy. But you! You're a speed-..."


You took three weeks to read this! I would end up shooting myself if I went that slow on a book.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Moss wrote: "Hm well my memory of it is reasonably blurred given I didn't care much about the characters, but from what I remember all her actions are cloaked in An Aura Of Mystery And Oooh What WILL She Do Next, and not much else. Or at least that's the prevailing memory I've carried away of her."

It was pretty much like that, but we eventually learned everything and the reasons why. (view spoiler)


message 64: by Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) (last edited Nov 11, 2011 05:40PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Moss wrote: "You took three weeks to read this! I would end up shooting myself if I went that slow on a book. "

I only took three weeks because you read it in a day! I said, why don't we read 100 pages a day for the next 4 days, and then discuss as we go ... and you were like, nope, already finished, sucka!

I didn't feel the need to rush because I was reading it by myself.


message 63: by [deleted user] (new)

The Holy Terror wrote: "Moss wrote: "Hm well my memory of it is reasonably blurred given I didn't care much about the characters, but from what I remember all her actions are cloaked in An Aura Of Mystery And Oooh What WI..."

Hm but wasn't she (view spoiler)


100 pages a day? Dude.


message 62: by Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) (last edited Nov 11, 2011 05:46PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) (view spoiler)

100 pages a day, you wouldn't die.

Are you incapable of reading more than one book at a time? Michelle is like that, are you the same way?


message 61: by [deleted user] (new)

Really? (view spoiler)

Hmm...I'm not incapable of it, but I don't really enjoy it. I don't think I could have read this, and enjoyed, say, a serving of c&v on the side. That would have been slightly weird.


message 60: by Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) (last edited Nov 11, 2011 05:59PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) (view spoiler)

"I don't think I could have read this, and enjoyed, say, a serving of c&v on the side. That would have been slightly weird."

Really, why?


message 59: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't know...it's hard to articulate. Something about mixing genres and getting into the sexytimes mood only to flip back over to the earnest Triumph Over Adversity YA. Moodkill. Or something.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Hmm. Ok. I guess I can see that. It just doesn't work that way for me. I switch back and forth between genres all the time.


message 57: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling Btw, a couple of friends of mine who are die-hard MM fans did not enjoy Froi. Apparently there's some pretty weird stuff in it.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Didn't enjoy Froi, the person, or Froi, the second book? I think both would probably be equally terrible. Especially if he doesn't get rid of his speech impediment. She writes "th" as an "f" for him. So he says, "everyfing" and "I fink."


message 55: by [deleted user] (new)

heh

It's not a speech impediment, guv. It's East London, innit? Blimey, 'ave an 'art. Fink we're all bloomin' fancy and everyfing's la-dee-dah like in yer neck of the woods? Not 'arf likely.


message 53: by [deleted user] (new)

hehehe

thread kill

i iz doing it right

I'm pretty sure that's what she was meaning him to sound like: common as muck, but cheerful. Which apparently all east londoners are.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) I think it's just because he never knew Lumateran, so he was learning it poorly and slowly. He's not that bright, but I see the correlation.


message 51: by Regina (last edited Nov 11, 2011 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Regina I agree completely about Froi, it was unforgivable and I don't understand how that was written as the bad thing he did. I cannot read a book centering around a character who did that, he is not redeemable. Years ago I worked as an advocate for surivors of sexual assault and we had to undergo quite a bit of training -- one of the things that we learned and was supported by numerous studies was that rapists have one of the lowest reform rates of any type of criminal. They do not change. So I can't buy it. Anything else, but that. But aside from that, I actually just thought this story was boring. I love fantasy and I did love Jellicoe Road (the only other Marchetta I have read), but I thought this was a boring story and I could not wait to be finished.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Argh, I'm going to have to read Jellicoe, aren't I? Everyone keeps telling me that's her best book.

Sigh ...

And I agree with everything else you said. She completely ruined his character by including that part.


message 49: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling The Holy Terror wrote: "Didn't enjoy Froi, the person, or Froi, the second book? I think both would probably be equally terrible. Especially if he doesn't get rid of his speech impediment. She writes "th" as an "f" for him. So he says, "everyfing" and "I fink." "

The die-hard MM fans didn't enjoy Froi of the Exiles. And FML, that would drive me mad. I thought this was fantasy, though? There are East London accents in this place?

I dunno, dude, I feel like you read Finnikin for me and I just read Jellicoe for you, hah. But who knows, we might both end up loving the other book. I'm still waiting to be wowed...


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Wendy Darling wrote: "There are East London accents in this place?"

No, Moss is just being silly. Froi is the only one who talks differently, because he's the only one who doesn't know the Lumeteran language, and they make him speak it even though he's bad at it.

I just had another friend tell me that Jellicoe is her best and I should have skipped Finnikin.

Sigh ...

Well, my library has it. They have all of her books actually. I feel like I need to read it just to see if it's the one that'll make me understand why everyone falls head-over-heels for her.

Don't you feel like everyone's at an awesome birthday party with ice cream cake and we didn't get invited? That's how I feel.

I want ice cream cake.


Wicked Incognito Now Great review Shannon.

After reading Jellicoe Road, I thought I'd go and read all of Marchetta's other stuff.

But the problems that you point out with Finnikin are the VERY SAME PROBLEMS with Jellicoe Road. The whole plot is based upon some secrets kept from the MC. And I don't even understand why it was necessary to keep these secrets. It's so stupid. And these feelings of not being loved and nobody caring for her leads the MC into deeply disturbed territory and it turns out that none of it was true......

Argh. I'm still getting upset about it.

I loved the way that Jellicoe Road was written. I was deeply emotionally attached to the characters, but I hate that I was manipulated by the author into feeling these emotions when the only reasons for them was a bunch of big stupid secrets.


message 46: by Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) (last edited Nov 11, 2011 11:30PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Thanks, April. Come to think of it, Francesca had some of the same problems as well. Her mom comes down with depression and we don't find out until almost the end why. And really, if she had just talked to someone about it, then ... well, the book wouldn't exist, lol.

Funny that you were attached to Jellicoe's characters though. I haven't liked most of her characters in either book. I think the only one I liked in this book was Finnikin's father. I didn't like anyone in Francesca.


Wicked Incognito Now I think it's just easy for authors to manipulate my emotions. But it pisses me off when it's apparent what's happening.

Based on your review--I'm pretty sure you wouldn't like Jellicoe.


Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Laura said it's one of her favorite books, ever. Not just YA.

(view spoiler)


Wicked Incognito Now LOL.

It's the story-telling VS. the things that happen. I think people are drawn in by the story so they let the things that the characters do go. I know, that makes no sense. Because the story is based on what people do, but I don't believe people would be drawn in by this story if it wasn't for the way that the secrets are slowly revealed.

I loved Jellicoe, but I still get all angry about WHY I loved it. So stupid.


« previous 1
back to top