From what I can tell this is a bit of a marmite book. You’re either entranced by the prose or it utterly bores you and you can’t finish. Quite happily, I find myself in the first camp.
I can see how some people might find this book long winded, at 429 pages in the hardcover edition it’s not the shortest of novels. But personally, I like something that I can get my teeth into, and if that means a boatload of metaphors then sign me up.
This is not a story for the faint hearted nor for those who swoon at the sight (in their mind’s eye?) of blood. Imagine, if you will, a secret society (nay religion?) of assassins. In order to join you have to endure grueling training where nothing is ever certain and everything is a test. It drags you along through a host of exciting adventures, you have to learn as quickly as our main character (Mia) does in order to keep up.
It has elements of a much dirtier (in grime and in the more lewd sense) Divergent (the first title in the series) in the sense that it is a series of initiates vying for a great prize. But there is far more to this story, and it’s set much farther in the past. The world in which it takes place is well thought out, the geography and climate clearly having been considered in light of the possibility of further titles. I like a man who considers what kind of sky there is going to be. I couldn’t be a Daughter of Smoke and Bone fanatic without appreciating a world with multiple celestial bodies now could I?
What more to say? Mia is an excellent protagonist, I appreciate her crass mouth, her bluntness and the way in which the author explains her fearlessness (I’m not going to spoil it for you). Kristoff has managed mostly to do what a lot of male authors fail to do. He has created a likeable (for the most part) female protagonist who doesn’t feel like she’s being feisty for the sake of it. Someone you want to give a hug (but you probably wouldn’t because she’d slip a knife through your ribcage.
There are other great characters too, male and female, and plot twists that would render a helter skelter jealous. The descriptions some feel are too long winded I think serve to create an impeccably detailed world in which you can lose yourself. Kristoff doesn’t expect the reader to fill in the gaps, he wants you to know exactly how things look, taste, smell, hear, feel. I can see why this book doesn’t fit with everyone but oh my word how it fit for me.
Kristoff succeeds at creating a world in which I am certain I would never ever succeed (nor would I want to) but at the same time it’s the description of the world that’s seductive, as I say it draws you in and along and suddenly you find it’s four in the morning and you probably should have been asleep hours ago.
If you’re like me and you don’t mind density of description (in fact I appreciate it), and you’re not squeamish at all I think you’ll have a whale of a time with this one. Although if you are like me and once you pop (a cover) you just can’t stop (reading) maybe wait until you’ve got a couple of days spare so that you don’t end up burning too much of the midnight oil.