Monday, December 19, 2016

The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling
Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publication Date: 7/8/2014
Pages: 434
Genre: Fantasy / Fiction
How I Found It: TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins
Date Completed: 8/6/16

Summary: The future of our world looks a lot like our past - at least according to Johansen. Though the characters are clearly living in the future, the setting and culture of the story largely replicates the era of Arthurian legends, magic included. Young Kelsea, having been raised in hiding, finds herself Queen of the Tearling and facing a variety of personal and national threats with which she must deal.

What I Thought: I am so glad TLC offered me a chance to be on this tour. I had heard of it before and placed it on my TBR, so I jumped at the opportunity. I'll be reviewing all three books in the series this week, so make sure you come back on Wednesday and Friday to see what I have to say about the sequels.

Today, however, is all about book one. 

I have heard some people compare this to George R. R. Martin's popular A Song of Ice and Fire series - better known as Game of Thrones. Others have compared Queen Kelsea, protagonist, to my beloved Katniss Everdeeen. I can see some thin parallels with both. I think, though, that trying to lump it in with something else is a discredit to Johansen's work. I found it delightfully original and fresh. 

There are a number of familiar premises - a 'regular' teenager finds herself suddenly in a unique position of power, something has happened to our world and this is a distant future, power struggles plus magic equals a dangerous situation...we know all of these, right? Somehow, when Johansen brings them together, they feel new and different. None of the tropes felt stale to me. I was actively engaged and interested in Kelsea's fate. 

Aside from her struggle to control a fiery temper, Kelsea felt so familiar to me. She loves books, values education, seeks to be a just and good ruler for her long-abused people, and struggles with her personal identity and body image. She's such a real female character. She has depth and determination, struggles and strength. I love reading such a true-to-life woman. There are moments when her still adolescent mind shines through and others where you can see glimpses of the mature, passionate woman she is becoming. It's a great representation of those late teenage, early 20s years, when so many of us were trying to figure out just what the heck was going on while maintaining a modicum of grace. 

The plot is pretty decent, too. It's not perfect, but it has lots of action and lots of little mysteries sprinkled throughout. Johansen is very intentional not to reveal many of the secrets, so I am excited to see how she handles them in the next two books. 

Though many have categorized this book as Young Adult, I personally am not doing so. There's a decent amount of adult content. I mean, nowhere even close to Game of Thrones or Outlander, but enough language and mature situations that I wouldn't pass it along to just any 14 year old. I was not particularly put off by anything, but be aware going in that there is profanity, violence, and some sexual content. I felt that it all contributed to the story rather than being there simply for shock value.

Getting ready to write this review, I stumbled on some old news: Emma Watson is producing and starring in the movie adaptation. I haven't seen anything about this since that old article, but I am really hoping the project is still on track. I would not only love to see this on screen, but I am a huge Emma Watson fan. I think she would bring a lovely balance to the character of Kelsea. As we've seen not only in work as Hermione, but also in her now diverse acting career, Watson has some serious acting chops. I think she's a great pick for this part. Here's hoping it actually happens!

I flew through this book. In the midst of a bit of a dry spell, it was a refreshing change. I was so excited to move on to the remaining books in the series and I am excited to talk to you about them later this week! In the mean time, head to the library and grab this one. 

*To read other bloggers' thoughts on The Queen of the Tearling, check out the full tour schedule.*

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Yeah, maybe
If You Liked This, Try: Red Queen Seraphina / A Song of Ice and Fire series 

A Reduced Review: A dystopian future collides with a setting similar to that of Arthurian legends in this exciting, fresh fantasy novel. 

1 comment:

  1. This series is at the top of my TBR list right now - I've just been waiting for book 3 to come out before I start reading.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!