Sunday, March 27, 2016

Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan


Sword and Verse #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 19th, 2016
Rating: 3 Stars
Source: Audible Audiobook
Pages: 384

Summary (from Goodreads):

Raisa was only a child when she was kidnapped and enslaved in Qilara. Forced to serve in the palace of the King, she’s endured hunger, abuse, and the harrowing fear of discovery. Everyone knows that Raisa is Arnath, but not that she is a Learned One, a part of an Arnath group educated in higher order symbols. In Qilara, this language is so fiercely protected that only the King, the Prince, and Tutors are allowed to know it. So when the current Tutor-in-training is executed for sharing the guarded language with slaves and Raisa is chosen to replace her, Raisa knows that, although she may have a privileged position among slaves, any slipup could mean death.

That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the Resistance could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved, an honorable man she knows wants to help the slaves.

Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.

And Raisa is the one holding the key.

I'm finding it hard to start writing this review because I'm not really sure what to say. I didn't love this book as much as I had expected to. And I listened to it as an audiobook which may have been a mistake because there are so many words in this book that I have zero idea how to spell. But at the same time, it may have been a good idea because the words that I don't know how to spell, I probably couldn't have said correctly.

Anyway, I felt like most of this book was really slow. It takes place over a long period of time. I got kind of lost as to how long of a time period this book covers. The first third of the book was all romance and really in depth descriptions of writing and what the different symbols look like. I reeeeallly found that to be boring.

The relationship between Raisa and Mati seemed to come out of nowhere. The only place they see each other is in the Adytum for their writing lessons with the Tutor. They don't really get a chance to talk with each other anyplace other than their lessons and then one day BAM they're making out and sneaking off to the library and being all lovey dovey. 

Then she finds out that Mati is in an arranged marriage and she gets butthurt as if that wasn't something to be expected. Then she breaks it off with him. When they were still happily in love, she was approached by someone from the Arnath resistance trying to recruit her to their cause. She declined the offer, but as soon as she's no longer with Mati she joins and does some little missions for them inside the palace. Then she and Mati seem to rekindle their relationship and she uses the opportunity to rat out members of the resistance. So it was like when she was with Mati she was so against being in the resistance, but when she doesn't have him, she'll join. She's really a flip-flopper.

She also rarely seems to tell him the truth about ANYTHING until she has to because she gets found out and in trouble. But he never really seems to care that much. He forgives her EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. While I am a sucker for the romance and definitely was rooting for them to get together, I found that a bit frustrating because she just didn't deserve for him to be so dang loyal when she couldn't return the favor!!!

One thing I really don't understand is why writing is so sacred to everyone? Out of all the things in the world that the gods could be picky about distributing to any old person, why is it writing? Why do  they feel like they can't live without being able to write? They only want to write so badly because they're not allowed to. Raisa says as much at one point when she finally figures out what her heart verse says after whining about being unable to read it for the ENTIRE BOOK! And then she's disappointed in it because she thought it would be some totally revealing piece of information or something and it's not.

At the end of each chapter there was a little segment of a story about the gods and goddesses doing whatever gods and goddesses do. I found this to be mostly pointless? Like it was a more drawn out version of the little skit that gets put on every year or whatever their method of time is.. Shinings and veilings... I feel like I lost a lot listening to this because a lot of terms are really confusing to me and I think they would have stuck a lot better if I had read it rather than listened to it. But I feel like those portions of the book were mostly useless information.

I think something I would have found more interesting is more backstory on Raisa's life on the Nath Tarin. Like maybe flashbacks or something. More in depth information about the raid and being on the raider ship and what it was like for her right after arriving in Qilara. More information about Learned Ones would have been nice too. I feel like all the mentions of these things was just filler because I didn't feel like I learned anything meaningful about any of it. 

And FINALLY, I don't see the point in all the mentions of the previous Tutor-in-training. I don't even remember what her name was. Like you don't learn anything meaningful about her either. Just that she was executed for teaching writing to the peasants. In general, I didn't understand the point of the Tutors. Like they pick someone to be the Tutor for the next prince and then they teach them and the new prince how to write and then the cycle starts over. Just get someone else to teach the prince to write. What's the point?!

All of that being said, it doesn't sound like I really found a point to any of this book, does it? Despite all of that and all the times I found myself rolling my eyes at these things, there were also things I enjoyed! It's just that this seems to be another one of those books where I find it easier to whine about what I didn't like than talk about what I did like. I really think that that can be attributed to having listened to this rather than reading it.

I liked Mati and Raisa together even if I thought their relationship came out of the blue and thought Mati was dumb for continuing to trust Raisa over and over and over.... and over again.

I liked when Raisa joined the resistance and the suspense of wondering if she was going to get busted sneaking around the palace. 

I liked reading about the battle at the end of the book and how they planned to move forward and rebuild in the aftermath. I liked that things wrapped up nicely at the end.

Overall, I thought this book was basically all romance with very little fantasy. The characters were mostly frustrating with their blind loyalty and flip-flopping tendencies. It was overly long and I didn't see the point to most of it. I don't think that I would recommend this book to anyone unless maybe you're going into it just looking for the romance.

6 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you about this, and I had many of the same issues! I didn't love this book either, though I did have high expectations for it. Awesome review!

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

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    1. I was really disappointed because I had such high hopes for this one! But I guess we just can't love them all, can we? I'm glad I got this book as a free Audible credit! Especially since I only started seeing not so positive reviews for this book AFTER I got it!

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  2. My main frustration with this book was that it felt like instalove (I get it was like a year in book time but it happened so fast ugggghhhh) and all of the main character's flip-flopping between the rebellion and the prince. Otherwise I mostly liked it, and I found the epigraph with the tales about the gods really interesting, but that's probably mostly because A) I read a hard copy of the book B) I love folk tales/legends/religions within fantasy novels and C) I'm a huge sucker for epigraphs. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one very much!

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    1. I really think that a lot of my problems with this book might not have been so obnoxious to me if I hadn't listened to it as an audiobook. But I don't really want to test that theory by buying a hardcopy and trying to read it again someday! Ha! But yeah, the instalove was what I found to be the worst. So obnoxious! We can't love them all though!

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  3. I'm glad you didn't dislike this one too much! It seemed to be hit or miss, for most people. I adored the book so much (it's rare that I liken a book to Cashore's), and I'm definitely waiting on the sequel impatiently. :D

    Great review, Cyra!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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    1. I was hoping to absolutely love this one since you did! But it just didn't work for me! I don't think that listening to fantasy stuff as an audiobook works for me. I think it's easier to listen to fluffier stuff. But maybe I'll try the sequel. I'm curious to see where it will go!

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