Sunday, August 21, 2016

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

The Dragon is not really a dragon.  He's a man.  More specifically, he's a wizard and he protects the villages in the valley against the Wood.  Agnieszka lives on the edge of the corrupted Wood, and for the people in her village it is a constant dark presence in their lives.  The Dragon is their protector - but in exchange, every 10 years he takes a girl from the village to serve him.  These girls return but aren't quite the same, and after being reacquainted with their families, they tend to leave the village permanently.

Agnieszka is amongst a group of girls who may potentially be chosen by the Dragon.  Everyone is certain that the Dragon will choose Kasia.  She is confident, beautiful, and brave - all things that Agnieszka is not.  Agnieszka and Kasia are the closest of friends, and Agnieszka is mourning the loss of Kasia for years before the choosing.  But her worry was misplaced - because it's not Kasia that gets chosen.

I feel completely incoherent when trying to talk about how much I loved this book.  Everything about it was great - I have no complaints at all.  The characters were fantastically written - even the more minor characters have depth.  It was a joy seeing how Agnieszka and the Dragon evolve over time.

Novik creates this beautiful and strange world.  There's so much backstory and lore and magic - and it's all woven seamlessly into the narrative.  I've read some fantasy novels and encountered either entire chapters or huge blocks of text that give an explanation of lore or backstory.  Not the case here.  Every moment was engaging.  And as a person who really "sees" the book as she's reading, I can tell you that the world Novik has created in Uprooted will stay with me.  It was so beautiful and mysterious.

I listened to Uprooted on audio.  It was phenomenal on audio!  The narrator did an amazing job.  There were so many unusual (to me) names and spells spoken aloud - it was great to have someone just say everything.  I didn't have to sound out the spells and try to figure out how they would be spoken - that's something that really breaks the flow of the story for me.  When shit's going down and someone is casting a spell it was great to hear the narrator just say the words confidently.  Completely immersive.  It was a long audiobook, but it didn't feel that way.  I was so excited to get back to it - I listened in the car, while I was cleaning up after dinner, in the shower, and while folding laundry.  Every chance I had!

Go get this book.  I can't recommend it enough!  It's the complete package - a hell of a story, fully drawn characters, immersive world.  NPR said to clear your schedule before picking it up - and I completely agree.  You won't want to stop reading!

Have you read Uprooted?  Do you agree with me that a narrator helps keep the flow going when there are unfamiliar names or invented language?  Are you interested in reading it?  Click here to grab a copy!

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