This month I expected to read a few less books than the average I’ve somehow been doing (I’ve scared myself how fast I’ve read), which given that I finished the first two books of the the All Souls Trilogy I feel pretty accomplished. To be fair, they are around 500-600 pages each with smaller writing.
-Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
-A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
– Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
DNF: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
There was also a did not finish for the month, something that is generally unusual for me. I like to finish books, even if I don’t fully enjoy them so I can still review, but this book made it incredibly hard to do that. This novel was a little upsetting overall to end up not finishing, it had been one of my anticipated reads when I got it for Christmas last year. Unfortunately, I only made it halfway into the book before the main character finally just ended it for me.
Ngan’s writing style is beautiful and the world seemed really well developed from what I read, but the main character, Lei, was where I struggled. She had a tendency to tell backstory a lot, and “forgetting” or not acting as if certain things had happened until moments that felt just convenient for the plot. If it was once or twice I’d be fine, but she did it often, with remembering about her mother and whether she was still alive, or a traumatic situation, she’d behave normally and then go, oh hey, that happened, and now it really upsets me. Like seriously?? I’ve heard people go numb, or in denial, but completely acting (also internally) like nothing ever happened?Not a thing. There were also occasions where she’d have family members threatened, and would still not act like she took things seriously. There’s bravery and then there’s ‘I’ve been threatened, but while I acknowledge this, I still don’t care’, it just gets a bit ugh. Any other character and I think this would have been a home run.
Getting past the rant stage over the MC, I think this book was heading in a really interesting direction, and had a lot of potential, it just didn’t meet my expectations with the hype, and didn’t make the character likable, which can end up being more a personal thing. I’m not attacking anyone who liked this book, like some of my own favorites, books can affect people in different ways (like art), and we all have different tastes in what we read. This can be a good book to read, but I’d say if you’re going into this look past the hype (initial reviews were blindingly good), and don’t look for this to be a realistic novel on traumatic (trigger warning type of traumatic) situations and survival, because it just didn’t feel like it really went into the after effects, simply making it feel like we were going down a bullet list of potential symptoms instead. The premise was new since we are dealing with an emperor’s harem style setting, but not trying to glorify it for once, it just latched onto the horror for this character and didn’t cover it entirely in my opinion. If you’ve read this book, liking it or not, let me know your opinions below. I brought it up on the epic reads reading community, and there was a real mix on opinions there as well. As said before, this was merely my opinion of the book, I didn’t finish, so can’t fully review it, but thought I’d bring up the why on why this wasn’t fully read.