Cristal Hummingbird's Reviews > The Reader

The Reader by Traci Chee
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really liked it
Read 3 times. Last read November 12, 2017 to November 16, 2017.

This is a book and a book is a world, and worlds are the seeds in which meanings are curled. Pages of oceans and margins of land are civilizations you hold in the palm of your hands. But look at your world and your life seems to shrink to cities of paper and seas made of ink. Do you know who you are, or have you been misled? Are you the reader, or are you the read?

I read this YA fantasy last year mainly because I loved the cover, and I walked away from my initial read feeling highly impressed with the writing and the intriguing story.

Now, I’ve listened to it (and read it) again, and I find that it holds up with a re-read. It’s been a little over a year, and I still recalled the major reveals and back stories for the two protagonists, but I forgot all the wonder. I forgot the details that came together to weave this sparkling world. Also, there were a few nuggets I missed the first time and was happy to discover this time around.

When I first read The Reader, I’d only read a few fantasy novels (YA or adult) because it wasn’t my favorite genre. This year, I made it a goal to expand on my fantasy experience, and now that I’m a little more seasoned, I can say that this is an experience I think fantasy lovers would enjoy more so than casual readers. So, yes, I enjoyed reading it more this time around, and I did really like it the first time. I’m filled with excitement at the thought of reading the next book.

Recommendation: If you love fantasy, then I think you’ll enjoy this read. Note that I don’t necessarily think liking YA would predispose you to enjoying The Reader–you gotta love the magic.
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Original review posted on Slow Readers Blog

“We’ve got such a short time in this world, you know? Cut shorter by the blasted foolishness of men… Our lives are so small that most of us only matter to a handful of folks…but bein’ part of a story like that? A story that’d blow all others outta the water in its greatness and scope? It wouldn’t give me more time here, but if I was part of something like that, maybe my life wouldn’t be so small. Maybe I could make a difference before my time ran out. Maybe I’d matter.” 

The Reader is a fantastic fantasy novel filled to the brim with adventure and featuring an unforgettable cast of characters.

The Reader is a novel for anyone who loves myths, magic and mayhem. Traci Chee pens the kind of book with a world one can easily get lost in, and she sets the stage for a series that I’m excited to delve back into.

This tale, like so many other YA fantasies, follows a young girl on a quest for vengeance. Sefia is that girl, an orphan, who is left, totally abandoned, after the shadowy crew that’s been tracking them, because of a book, kidnaps her caretaker. Sefia isn’t the only character in this tale. Mixed in with her quest for revenge--told in the 3rd person narrative--the reader meets many more characters, some more important than others, but all portrayed with vitality, emotion, and humor that I enjoyed experiencing. Traci Chee is a wonderful storyteller, and I loved that she included so many stories within this one memorable one.

The Reader does take some time to get into. I was curious from the very beginning, but it wasn’t until about ¼ of the way through that I became totally engrossed. It might’ve been when Archer was introduced…hey, I love romance, so give me a hint of a love story, and I’ll perk up. Though, don’t get any ideas about this being an angsty YA-type love story; it’s not. Yes, once Sefia met up with her new ally, I started gobbling up the text, but that was because they were both so hopeless and alone, and seeing their connection form brought a hope and joy to the story and myself.

The Reader follows Sefia and Archer across many lands, through some dangerous, heart-pounding scrapes, and leads them to a crew of lovable pirates, all while showing hints of other characters during times in the past and future. Let me tell you, the plot is full, and I loved every minute of it—even the times when I didn’t know what the hell was going on. (Side note: I alternated between listening to this on Audible and reading a hard copy. The audio production is very good, and I feel it made the story more riveting. I'm sure it would've taken me much longer to read this story if I hadn't listened to it, because the plot is so full.) It’s trite, but this one is all about the journey.

The Reader is a story that unfolds over time, and as you read you learn that it’s a story about identity, knowledge, destiny, and choice—how we leave our mark on this world. Sefia is always questioning, the book leads her to answers, but also brings even more questions. As I read along, I too had so many questions, some were revealed, a lot of them not, but I am still left feeling thoroughly satisfied. Traci Chee has planted many seeds, and I’m very excited to see this series grow. She’s a brilliant talent, and this debut novel shows great thought and skill. I know I’ll have to read it again, because there are so many tiny details. I love those sorts of books!

The Reader is for anyone who loves magic, adventure and fairytales. If you like shows like Once Upon A Time—big stories, grand tales—then you’ll fall in love with this one. I have no idea what Traci Chee plans for this series, what twists she has in store for us, but I am willing and waiting without patience to continue on this fantastic ride. I recommend.

“Control your future, or let your future control you.”

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Reading Progress

September 8, 2016 – Shelved
September 8, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
September 15, 2016 – Started Reading
September 15, 2016 –
September 16, 2016 –
September 16, 2016 –
50.0% "What the fuck is going on in this book?"
September 16, 2016 –
58.0% "This book is giving me Once Upon A Time feels."
September 16, 2016 –
September 17, 2016 – Finished Reading
November 12, 2017 – Started Reading
November 12, 2017 –
1.0% "Reread!"
November 13, 2017 –
29.0% "This is moving at a quicker clip than it did during my first read."
November 15, 2017 –
55.0% "I still have so many questions."
November 15, 2017 –
75.0% "“This is a book and a book is a world, and worlds are the seeds in which meanings are curled. Pages of oceans and margins of land are civilizations you hold in the palm of your hands. But look at your world and your life seems to shrink to cities...”"
November 16, 2017 – Finished Reading
November 20, 2018 – Started Reading (Audiobook Edition)
November 20, 2018 – Shelved (Audiobook Edition)
November 20, 2018 –
8.0% "It is time to complete this series. But first, a reread." (Audiobook Edition)
November 22, 2018 –
67.0% "Crazy when you notice things for the first time during your third read. This book is so full." (Audiobook Edition)
November 23, 2018 – Finished Reading (Audiobook Edition)

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