Series: The Lumatere Chronicles
Publication Date: September 29th, 2008
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 401 (Paperback)
Source: Personal Shelf
At the age of nine, Finnikin's world is shattered by the five days of the unspeakable: the royal family of Lumatere is brutally murdered, an imposter seizes the throne, and a curse binds all who remain inside the kingdom's walls. Those who escape are left to roam as exiles.
Ten years later, Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, are summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, the heir to the throne of Lumatere and Finnikin's childhood friend, is alive, and she can lead Finnikin to him. Even as he suspects this arrogant young woman, Finnikin also begins to believe that Lumatere might one day be raised.
I really enjoyed this book, but I didn't love it, and that kind of kills me. I think this is one of those instances where hype left me wanting to love this book so badly that the little things became all the more prominent to me. Alas, I did enjoy this book and anxiously await the ability to read book two.
The beginning of this book threw me off. We just jumped right in and while I'm totally okay with that, it threw me off because I didn't know much about Finnikin's beloved lost Lumatere and, well, Finnikin himself. It took me a while to properly understand this world because of that, but once I did I can honestly say this world-building is just...wow. So well done! But I've come to expect such a thing from Marchetta alongside her exquisite and haunting writing style.
The pacing of this novel was a little off to me as well. At times it was perfect, like at the very end. We have our end battle so to speak, but we get to see what happens after it and how everyone fares, which is wonderful. Whereas there are other parts of the book, like the journey to hunting down rumored exiles and other people, where the passages were just too long and felt like they dragged on forever. This boredom was definitely found in the beginning, but also in the middle of some really kickass adventures that should be leaving me feeling anything but boredom. Yet I found myself bored a few times, putting the book down to just take a break because I didn't have the focus to continue.
But, with that in mind, the cast of characters in this book is superb. Their awesomeness blows my mind. Finnikin, for one, is amazing. He is the type of character that is desperate to prove himself to "be a man" but also so that he can prove himself to himself. Sure, he's super annoyingly horny at times, but any boy his age would be. And, all things aside, he kind of rocks my world. He is so complex and wise beyond his years. He carries the weight of Lumatere on his shoulders and is haunted by his people's past as he takes it upon himself to inspire hope in the exiles and be the glue that keeps them all looking towards the future waiting for the lost king to reclaim his throne as he creates The Book of Lumatere. Him and his berry-colored hair are A+.
But so is everyone else in the book. Froi, who I never thought I could forgive, had an amazing character arc that I am expecting to get even crazier in book two. Evanjalin, who is mysterious and slightly crazy and has the tendency to omit facts from her truths, still finds ways to constantly tug at my heartstrings and pull them every which way. The exiles of all kinds manage to stand apart from each other. Everyone in this book was directly affected by the five days of the unspeakable, and to see how everyone copes with it differently and has experienced these harrowing days in their own way paints this horrifyingly vivid picture that makes you keep flipping pages. All because not a single person in this cast is two dimensional, even those that are featured on a single page in passing. These characters will forever remain in the back of my mind.
And then, of course, there is the romance. This is a slow-burn romance if there ever was one, full of twists and turns and the tugging of heartstrings as our OTP makes really tough decisions that force them away from each other only for them to continuously shakily come back together. Though our characters are relatively young in the grand scheme of things, their world has forced them to age and become wise beyond their years, and their romance is one for the Lumaterean history books for sure. It had me rooting so damn hard, and the ending of this book made my heart soar and gave me slight tears in my eyes. These two...they just belong together.
As this review clearly shows, a few things really frustrated me with this book that made it fall short of perfection for me, but that doesn't mean I disliked it. I really, really enjoyed it despite my general disappointments. With that in mind, though, I do not think that I can recommend it to every reader. While I think every reader should pick up a Marchetta novel in their life, I see this one being a bit more polarizing than the rest because our characters have been through such a terrible ordeal. They have lived through atrocities that I don't even want to think about because they make my stomach turn, but such a thing will definitely turn some readers off even if it didn't turn me off. However, I am one reader that is thankful she's given this series a chance, and I turn to book two a bit wary of the feels, but excited all the same.
This book was read as part of my June series for the 2015 Summer of Series.