Someday I'll be completely on schedule with all my blog posts. That day is clearly not today. In April, the Booksplosion book of the month was The Queen of the Tearling: a book I picked up months ago and hadn't read yet. I decided that Booksplosion was a great motivation to read it and now, a month too late, here is my review!
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.
Kelsea "not another girl" narrator
I must admit that I have conflicted feelings about this book. The main thing I didn't like was the fact that Kelsea, the new Queen, comes across as "very different from normal girls". While I usually crave diversity in YA narrators, it just didn't work for Kelsea. It was too forced and unbelievable. I get that you want to make a main character different, but she's a young girl who suddenly becomes a queen. Would she really be that heroic? Could she be that intelligent? Would she be that emotionally strong? I am not convinced at all.
Can we do YA without a love story? YES WE CAN.
What I did love about this story is the fact that there is no real love story. Kelsea is young, so obviously she's thinking about men and what she's feeling but there is no real focus on it. There's no traditional love interest and that is absolutely perfect in this book. It wouldn't work, it would distract the reader from the already very complicated plot and it would make Kelsea even more cliché than she already was. I loved that the author was brave enough to just leave the love story out of it (at least for this first book of the series).
And she might have left the love story out of it, because she was already juggling a million plot events. Honestly, this book is a great how-to guide for plotting. There's so much happening, yet everything is paced perfectly and makes perfect sense. There's slavery, wars, different narratives, childhood problems, parent problems,... This book combines everything and does it in a fantastic way.
The one drawback about this, for some readers, is that there's jumping of point of view and this is done quite inconsistently. I didn't always understand why we had to hear from certain characters at certain times. Besides being confusing at times, it also means that the reader basically knows everything and especially more than Kelsea. This frustrated me because it made it even harder to relate to Kelsea, a character I didn't like to begin with. I wish I had just known her point of view about the story.
On Goodreads, I gave this book four stars, because there's no half star option. However, my true rating is 3.5 out of 5. This was a good book and I did enjoy reading it, but I was also frustrated throughout and I just wish I could pick this book up and re-write it a bit. But with this potential, I'm hoping the next book in the series will be a 5 stars.