Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Absolutely Epic Falling Kingdoms

I bought this as soon as it came out because it looked pretty cool and we got a whole bunch of copies in at work. Then I heard that a lot of people couldn't get into it. A lot of people. I got a little nervous. I wanted to like it.

Well, I am hoping to go to the Breathless Reads stop on Sunday so I'm working my way through some of the ones that I haven't read.

I loved it. It's teenage Game of Thrones. Seriously, it takes all of the common elements of YA and then puts them in this high fantasy setting and somehow it just works. So well. If I had to guess the people who couldn't get into it aren't big high fantasy readers. It takes a little while to get set up.

Lots of spoilers ahead!

It's split up to follow four main characters. Cleo, Magnus, Jonas, and Lucia. There are some intermittent sections of a watcher as well. This gives the reader a really cool chance to see things from different perspectives. We get the chance to see how the actions of one character effect the others.

Now I started to write this by breaking it down by the four characters but I found that it was too confusing because they're so intertwined that I ended up having to explain each kingdom and their beliefs and it was getting to be too much. So this post isn't going to be as in depth as I initially wanted. But that's okay because you should read the book.

Cleo is my favorite of the four leads. I feel like there's always a favorite when a book is broken up like this (Stark family, anyone?). She was the wild child but but by the time we meet her she's already trying to step away from that world and those actions. She takes everything very seriously, whether other people see that or not. She believes that she is somehow responsible for every thing that happens and goes to great lengths to set things right.

And I loved Theon. I went into it wary because of the Game of Thrones connotations but I loved him and he and Cleo knew exactly how to handle each other. Okay here's the thing. The book slipped out of my hands (it just fell into my lap) and when I went to catch it I caught it on the wrong page and saw what happened to him! I was upset to say the least. So I made a whole series of distressed noises when he realized he was in love with Cleo. BECAUSE THEY WERE AWESOME AND I KNEW WHAT HAPPENED!

On the other side it's really cool to see how Jonas sees Cleo as the opposite side of his brother's death. He hates Cleo and everything about Auranos. Cleo is sick about what happened but Jonas just sees her as this spoiled, villainous, princess who doesn't care what happens to anyone. As a reader we know differently. I only semi warmed up to him. He worms his way into situations that he doesn't understand. It's great that he's so driven to help his family and his country but I don't think, until the end, that he has the scope to get involved in everything that is going on.

Also, I feel like a romance is brewing between he and Cleo. I don't really like it. But we'll see. Perhaps I can be swayed.

Magnus is the character that I am most impressed every time I feel a twinge of sympathy for. I mean, he killed Theon. Even if he's conflicted about it, I'm not psyched. He's a really interesting character because he has a really rather tragic story and upbringing and sometimes I felt badly for him but then there was something inherently unlikable about him. He tries so hard to be unlikable and then bemoans that Lucia is the only person who could love him. I love him as a character for making me feel so conflicted about him.

I have to say that Lucia is probably my least favorite. She's the wounded bunny character. She can be fierce and strong but there's something just so weak about her. She stands up when she feels as if an injustice has been done to her but otherwise I found he sort of whiny and unlikable. She's the one everyone has been waiting for and she has all of this power but she herself just doesn't quite live to it.   I am interested to see if she gets the Kindred and are corrupted by them. I feel like she will be and I feel like it will be awesome.

I haven't been so impressed by the outside depictions of characters we know well since Tamora Pierce. Admittedly, Cleo is the only one I didn't really see differently and I think that's because we start off in her head. If we had seen the murder of Tomas outside of her first it would have been different. But to be in Magnus' head and then to see him described by Cleo are just completely different. They seem like different people and I am in awe that Morgan Rhodes can pull that off.

This book is just such a wonderful mix of contemporary elements and high fantasy. The repenting party girl who got drunk and slept with someone she hates. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks who hates the rich kids. The dark loner boy with the tragic family and abusive dad. And the easily underestimated little sister with a lesser known fierce side. These are almost stereotype characters and they are thrown into this setting and it just all worked beautifully.

I am interested to see what else Morgan Rhodes does with what she's set up. I have a guess as to the outcome but I'm curious about the getting there part. I want to know how it all happens. I have been willfully sucked into this. I am just grumpy I have to wait until December for Rebel Spring.

My biggest issue was that it sometimes got a little repetitive. We heard the story of Cleonia and Valoria one too many times. And heard characters called the same insults or described the same way one too many times. But even that didn't distract me from the story enough for me to really worry about it.

Overall I give Falling Kingdoms a rating of: Massively Epic.

Have any of you read it? What did you think?

Next I'm going to start Black City by Elizabeth Richards. I also actually hand wrote out my post for Top Ten Tuesday and then felt sick on Tuesday night and never posted it. I also have a Jodi Meadows mini post coming (I will, one day, get back on track). So my TTT may be a Top Ten Thursday later today. Anyway, I'll return later!


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