Kelley Ceccato's Reviews > Uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
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it was amazing
bookshelves: heroines-i-like, kick-butt-heroines, magical-heroines, good-friendship-stuff

** spoiler alert ** More like four and four-quarters stars, but that's closer to five than to four, so it gets five.

I'll get the bad news out of the way first: I was never quite sold on the romantic plot. While I was relieved to learn that the Dragon was not an actual shape-shifting dragon -- so this wasn't going to be yet another one of those human girl/supernatural guy romances that I am, as a teenager might say, "soooo over" -- I've never cared much for love stories in which the girl is a teenage virgin and her love interest is over a hundred years her senior. However, I must give credit where it's due and acknowledge that at least this time the girl is not an excruciatingly boring blank slate with neither interests nor skills. At least this time we can see something like a REASON why the much older man might be drawn to the girl. Also, Agnieszka does not start to fall for Sarkan until he stops with the insults (he's a fairly harsh teacher) and starts treating her with a bit more respect. Finally, when danger must be faced, he doesn't push her into the background in order to protect her; instead, the two confront problems as a team. So even this aspect of the story was not quite as bad as it could have been (and as it all-too-often is).

For me, the negative is vastly outweighed by the positives:
1. Agnieszka herself. If falling in love were all she did, I doubt I would have much use for her, but over the course of the story she does so much more. She evolves from an awkward girl who doesn't see herself as good for much of anything to a powerful witch with a strong, wise understanding of her own capability -- and that capability includes great kindness as well as great magic. How she finally saves her world is quite moving.

2. Subverting expectations. Kasia is introduced to us as everything Agnieszka is not (or at least, everything she doesn't think she is): beautiful, intelligent, skilled, the feminine ideal. In many books, Kasia would turn out to be a Mean Girl, more "frenemy" than friend to Agnieszka, or else she'd be pushed out of the picture very quickly, with the author not quite being sure how to make this paragon of perfection interesting. Novik does neither. Kasia is loyal friend to Agnieszka, and much like Agnieszka, she discovers capabilities she'd never expected or even thought about. She turns out to be a real person, not just a "perfect" foil. (Another wonderful supporting female character is Alosha, who also went someplace completely different from the one I was expecting, or rather dreading.)

3. The writing! This book rivals Juliet Marillier's original Sevenwaters Trilogy for lyrical style The descriptions of magic are some of the most beautifully detailed I've read. Setting is also evoked in exquisite specificity. The world feels wonderfully fairytale, and at the same time wonderfully real.

4. The threat is both poetic and believably sinister and disturbing.

On the whole, this is a beautiful book, probably my favorite read of the year, or at least right up there with Bear's Steles of the Sky.
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Reading Progress

September 4, 2014 – Shelved
September 4, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
June 20, 2015 – Started Reading
July 18, 2015 – Shelved as: heroines-i-like
July 18, 2015 – Shelved as: kick-butt-heroines
July 18, 2015 – Shelved as: magical-heroines
July 18, 2015 – Finished Reading
June 26, 2017 – Shelved as: good-friendship-stuff

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