Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review: The Reader

The Reader by Traci Chee
Sea of Ink and Gold #1
Publisher: Putnam
Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 1/10/16 to 1/11/16
448 pages

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

If you haven't heard of The Reader yet, I urge you to add it onto your TBR. For one, it's about a world without reading. Yes, without reading. Can you even imagine?

Sefia, our main character, is targeted for who knows what. With her Aunt captured, Sefia is left with no choice but to go on a mission to save her. Along the way, she encounters a boy who doesn't remember how to speak. Kidnapped by the Impressors, a group forcing boys to fight in a ring, he is given the name Archer and travels alongside Sefia. Throughout their travels, Sefia learns what the "book" she is carrying is. And ultimately, she learns how to read, which holds a lot of power in this world.

Okay, so it sounds like a book about a toddler learning how to read, but I promise it's not. My summary does little to no justice as to how stunning this was. Just trust me on this.

The world revolves around the fact that reading holds some sort of power. And you can not only read the words in a book, but you can also read people's lives. Words are used to manipulate the world and its objects. Although this is true in this fantasy world, you can make connections to real life where it's true that words hold meaning and power (Read The Book Thief yet? Come on now!) 

There's not much I can say without giving away the entire story. One of my favorite parts included the crew of the Current of the Faith, though this is actually read in Sefia's book. I also mainly adored Sefia and Archer, (kind of spoiler-y) but I would have been content if their friendship didn't turn into a relationship. You might also assume that since we know next to nothing about Archer, he might be boring to read about. But that didn't end up being the case at all. His personality, regardless of being unable to speak, really showed through.

Unfortunately, I did run into a couple of things. For one, there were a lot of characters. There was this one POV which I did not understand why it was included. And also as a heads up, you will not understand some of the POVs until you finish the book, which can be frustrating at times. The way The Reader is written mostly benefits all the action scenes, but not when it comes to character development.

To conclude, all I can really say is that The Reader is a beautiful, well-written story. And it involves reading, or really the lack of reading. And well we all love reading so I'm sure this can relate to all of us!
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