The hype, you guys. The hype for this was legitimately unreal. Yes, I saw a few negative reviews here or there, but it seemed like every reviewer that I followed or considered when buying something was screaming about how this book was amazing and fantastic and action-packed and full of kick-ass girl power. Let's break it down, shall we?
So, about 10% of my decision to put this down was because of the horrific, horrific reading slump I was in. I was in limbo. That time of my life is cloudy and faintly repugnant (Richard Campbell Gansey III is rubbing off on me, can you tell?). Then there was 20% hashed off because of the lackluster plot line. It's like Dennard wanted it to be exciting and full of mischief and intrigue, but forgot to add life to it. The bare bones of the story were laid out, but that was about it. Another 40% was because of the lack of world building. Again, Dennard got ahead of herself, and forget to actual build the damn world. I tried really, really hard to understand it. I can understand, in the beginning of a high fantasy novel, that things can be confusing and names can look like someone vomited them up. But we would get these vague history lessons and possible answers to things... and I would still be confused. And finally, the last 30% was her writing, which can really be the whole basis of my issue, but I decided to break it up into specifics. There was something disjointed to it, as if it was an animal with a limp. Something was missing, and it constantly broke my focus. Some scenes (like that dancing scene with Safiya and Prince Merik, good LAWD) were fantastic, and I felt like I was watching a movie in my head. But then it would all go haywire during a different scene, often an action one, and I would constantly have to stop, backtrack, try and figure out what the hell kind of move Safi or Iseult were pulling off, or wonder vaguely why they were fighting in the first place, or question how politics fit into it. So, overall, it was just not for me, which is a damn shame, because I'm a high fantasy maniac and would have loved to love this.
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
I remember, sometime last year, hearing about this author who had supposedly stalked a reviewer for giving her book a bad review. It had exploded across my twitter and Instagram feeds, and basically any other social platform that was about books. I was mildly alarmed, and then promptly forgot about it. Jump to sometime later (this timeline is fabulous), and I somehow found myself on the Goodreads page for No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale, and as I scrolled down to the reviews, I found out this was the author that did the thing. And then I found the article she wrote about on her take on the experience, and my Jewish guilt kicked in. It really is the worst. And apparently a thing that actually exists. I thought to myself "You know, no one really knows what happened except these two people. I don't personally know the reviewer or Kathleen Hale, so I'm not going to pick a side." So, long story short, my Jewish guilt and the promise of a weird murder mystery in a small midwestern town hooked me in. I'm a midwest girl at heart (I'm looking at you Winfield, IL) and my heart melts a little when a story is based anywhere near the vicinity. So I picked this up, thinking I would enjoy it since I usually like odd book. Well, I was wrong. Not about enjoying odd books, but about liking this book. Ever. I can now say my Jewish guilt as disappeared and I'm more than alarmed now, because I can honestly say that I could see Kathleen Hale stalking a reviewer. There was the creepiest undertone to this story, and I could only last until page 50. Not only was it unconventionally abnormal, like so far passed something that's weird but interesting, but the writing was flat and I can't fathom how this was actually published. WOW, I CANT BELIEVE I JUST SAID THAT. Shame on me, but also not shame on me because it's the truth. That was the small thought creeping around in my head as I started typing this out, and I figured "Why not, I'm already going to hell." So! Good times.
Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall
This was by no means a bad book. At all. This was just a causality of another book slump I had. There were definitely some things that contributed to my DNF'ing this, like my inability to connect to the main character and the plot dragging in some places, but overall I believe I would've finished this if I hadn't been in a slump. And there were definitely some really good parts and some gorgeous quotes. Also that cover? Stunning! So, just bad timing I guess. I don't think I'll ever pick this up, but I really do recommend trying this if you're in the mood for a rough-and-tough contemporary.