Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Amazingly Epic Seraphina

Seraphina is a book that I've been keeping an eye on for a while but hadn't gotten around to yet. It was on the ever growing list...just not particularly high on that list.

And then it won the Morris award (congratulations!) and it was instantly bumped up the list. Partially because I felt like I had more of a reason to read it now, and partially being a bookseller I feel like I need to read as many of the winners as I can.

I have to say, after In Darkness, what I wanted was something quick and wonderful and completely engrossing immediately. Seraphina is not that book and that was a little bit of a hindrance for my enjoyment at first. My senseless entertainment craving brain expected there to be no set-up, which is ridiculous. A book like this one needs set-up. So I read like twenty pages and didn't pick it back up for a couple of days. (I got a lot of editing and writing done instead?)

I loved it so much more (after I got my senseless entertainment from TV). Loved it.

There is something so wonderfully intriguing about the whole thing. It's this beautiful high fantasy, but with the odd technology, once again. I was struck by how it resonated with me.

There were some odd parallels between this one and Incarnate. The love and use of music. Dragons. The technology thrown in. The main character being an outcast (every YA novel ever). The main character being smarter than everyone thinks she should be. I have to say, I liked Seraphina better. Hartman has a much better grasp on her world than Meadows, at least that's how it feels.

I loved Seraphina, who I will call Phina from here on out. She is vulnerable and confused but never weak. She rallies and fights when she needs to and doesn't lean on anyone more than she has to but at the same time knows when she needs to ask for help and who she can trust. More than anything I love how true to herself she is. She lies so many times throughout the book but always struggles to keep true to what she deems right. It's awesome and makes her struggle that much better.

Okay, I can't lie I totally love Lucian. I feel like it's been awhile since I've said this about the main male character and it used to be pretty frequent. But I love him. He is, if possible, more true to himself than Phina but at the same time he struggles way more with it because of his vow to remain honest. He struggles in all of the way that Phina does but for different reasons. Hartman has this amazing way of writing about him in a way that makes him light up when he talks to Phina whether it's when he's excited about philosophy or arguing with her about honesty. It shows so much talent to have a character just brighten like that.

I thought the parallels between Lucian and Phina were well written and set-up. They are absolutely perfect for each other and up until the end I didn't know how I wanted it to end. There was definitely a part of me that wanted them to stay star-crossed, and maybe they will. They are perfectly suited for one another but both of them are too moral and honest to really do anything about it and it would be exquisite and terrible if they couldn't come together in the end. But at the same time, come on, they need to be together. And that scene at the end between them was just beautiful. When he kissed her wrist I swooned a little and then went back and reread that scene a few times. They're brilliant.

One of my favorite scenes, as ridiculous as this one is, is where Phina tells Selda and Kiggs (Lucian) about her "hunch" with the coup. Kiggs tries, rightly, to get information from Phina and Selda leans around and hits him on the side of the head. That moment was so perfect between the two of them. But it's also such a sibling thing to do. I laughed and read the scene again. It's just a such a familiar thing to do I loved it.

I look forward to seeing Selda grow into her queendom. She's going to be awesome and it's going to be bad ass. Right now she has some depth but not too much but I can't imagine Hartman will completely ignore her the next book so this should definitely be interesting.

I adored Orma. He's the traditional grouchy old family member (Mr. Bennet) who really does love our main character. I love his literal interpretation of things it just makes me laugh. I was completely delighted by the scene between he and another dragon at the end of the book. Delighted.

My first impression of the dragons was that they remind me of the Observers in the TV show Fringe. The whole no emotion, over practical thing. I sort of saw their human forms in suits for a while there too. But by the end, though they were still Observers, I stopped picturing the suits. They became their own species. And they're the strangest, most fascinating, dragons I've come across in literature. Hartman took all of these known dragon traits and tweaked them in the best ways possible. It's brilliant.

I think my biggest issue with the book was my struggle to get into it at the beginning and I'm not sure that's a fault of the book.

Overall, I gave Seraphina a rating of: Massively Epic.

I'm really excited to hear that there's a sequel, Dracomachia, even if it doesn't come out until next year. Have any of you read it? What did you think?

Next I'm reading a Morris honor book. Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby. the cover already reminds me of The Night Circus but I can't think that because I loved The Night Circus way too much.

Until then!

-A.M.Y-A

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