Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

A fun, smart read, Seraphina gave a unique take on dragons that was both unexpected and interesting. It was a fantasy book unlike others, adding many original aspects to it that showed the intricacy of the world building. The characters were all wonderful, adding so much to the story, even if they were only mentioned a few times. With a beautifully flowing plot, Seraphina was a book I could not put down.

Although the writing had a great pace, there were some things I found difficult about it. There were quite a few unusually complex words, that made the writing hard to understand at times. Along with many made up words, which are explained in the back of the book, there were quite a few words relating to music and clothing that were difficult to figure out without further research. Also, some of the made up words and names had an uncomfortable sound to them, making them sound almost childish.

The main character, Seraphina, was a lovely, interesting girl to read about. Learning about her and the things that set her apart from everyone else was really exciting. However, I found I couldn’t quite connect with her because of the writing. I felt more like I was simply watching her life happen, instead of feeling like I was in her shoes.

The friends (and enemies) Seraphina makes along the course of this book were all great characters. The prince and princess were surprisingly very wise and good-hearted, becoming friends with the main character. Every relationship in this book was hearty and full, each so important to the story. Rachel did an amazing job at making each and every character in this book vital to the story, something that is hard to come by, and honestly I’m really impressed. The romance aspect was left on the sidelines, which I think was also a good move, in that it will be able to develop in the next book.

One of the most well done parts of this book was its original take on dragons. Instead of simply being evil lizard-like creatures, these dragons have the ability to take human form. They have several key personality characteristics, which become a huge part of the book’s premise. The dragons’ inability to feel emotion in their true form is what becomes a big aspect of the story’s conflict. Because for dragons, having emotions is a sickness, a disease that many try to rid themselves of. It is questioned throughout the story, opening many ideas that dabble in philosophy. This was a huge and amazing aspect to the book.

Music was also a large part of the book. Although I have minimal knowledge about music, I loved its role in the story. Every time Seraphina played, the music she made was described in such a beautiful, emotional way. It linked her with her mother, and is ever-present in the story.

The plot twist in this story was so unexpected. It is rare that I have no clue of the plot twist before it happens. That being said, it wasn’t so unbelievable that it didn’t fit. All of a sudden, things started fitting into place as the twist was revealed. I was so surprised and excited to find out who the bad guy really was.

With its few flaws, like its occasionally confusing words, Seraphina was a beautifully executed story, with so much to offer. The world building was so believable and realistic, without the need for excess info-dumping. The characters were all amazing, and the philosophical aspects really made me think. I very much enjoyed this book, and look forward to see what comes next.

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