|The Invasion of the Tearling|
Title: The Invasion of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publication Date: 6/9/15
Date Completed: 12/4/16
Summary: Kelsea has come into her role as Queen of the Tearling. Despite the impending invasion from the Mort army, she is rallying troops and making preparations among her people. However, her mind is pulling her away more and more frequently to visit the life of Lily, a woman from pre-crossing times. Kelsea must figure out the meaning of these visits as well as the visits from a mysterious man.
What I Thought: It has been a while since I have gotten excited about a series. So often, the first book is good enough, but I am either not compelled to continue the series or the sequels are letdowns. So far, that is not the case here. One book left to go, but I am optimistic.
This felt like a really well done middle book. There is enough independent story here to fuel the book on its own, but it clearly serves as a bridge between the beginning and the end of Kelsea's story.
I mentioned in my review of The Queen of the Tearling that Kelsea felt like a very accurate representation of late teenage or early twenties years. Kelsea in this story feels like a natural next step in that journey. She is increasingly independent, eager to flex her muscles and prove herself. As she appears to come under the increasing influence of both age and some sort of magic, her personality shifts. She becomes darker and her constant internal battles to push back her anger become less frequent. Instead, she begins to give into that darker side of herself. Even in the midst of this change, though, you are still rooting for her. She still wants the best for her people, though her path seems to be increasingly misguided. Her decisions feel similar to some I made in those early twenties years because I thought I had figured out the world, discovered myself, and wish now I could take back. Johansen has really nailed the early adult female experience in so many ways.
Speaking of the female experience, I think one of the reasons I am really enjoying this series is Johansen's blatant feminist messages. She's not shying away from the message of female power and equality. She does not offer this message at the expense of men; there are wonderful, wise, powerful men in the story and, if anything, Johansen seems to suggest that men and women do their best when they work together (or people in general for that matter). I really appreciate the powerful female characters, both good and evil, in the books. Johnsen lets her women be complex and real; they are never caricatures of themselves. This is so important - especially if you, like me, have a heavy reading diet of classic, male-written literature.
The Lily flashbacks were a nice change in this book. I like the different story line they added. Lily's story reminded me in some parts of a less extreme The Handmaid's Tale. As with the first book, Johansen has adult content here, particularly in Lily's story. It was tough to read and digest at times, but it really did the job of explaining Lily's world. Greg's violence against her and the treatment of women in general in that pre-Crossing world says so much about why the Crossing was necessary and desired.
I am really looking forward to reading the conclusion of this story. I love that this book finished with a shock and Kelsea's recognition of the power of self-sacrifice. I love that Johansen is slowly piecing together the world of the Tearling and how it came to be. I cannot wait to see how she finishes the tale.
Will I Re-Read: Yeah, possibly
Other Books By Erika Johansen: The Queen of the Tearling
A Reduced Review: A very well done middle book - it satiated my desire for more story while getting me excited for the conclusion.