- Page Count: 442
- Release Date: September 13, 2016
- My Rating: 2.5 stars
Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.
“Could anything be a book if you knew how to read it?”
Well this was… exceptionally boring. The idea about reading being actual magic in a world where books are banned is really neat and there were some fun bits (like pirates), but the story itself was just dull the whole way through. To be fair, I almost called it a DNF at 60% and then skimmed the last bit, so maybe there was some redeeming quality I missed hidden in those details.
After Sefia’s father is killed, she takes a book he had tried to keep hidden from her. This basically sums up her journey:
“It was if, all this time, she’d been locked out, catching glimpses of some magical world through the crack beneath a door. But the book was the key, and if she could figure out how to use it, she’d be able to open the door, uncovering the magic that lay… beyond the world she experienced with her ears and tongue and fingertips. And once she understood them all – all the signs, all the words – she’d… find out why her family had been taken, and who had done it, and how to hunt them down.”
The beginning chapters that introduced Sefia were interesting, but then new characters and POVs kept being brought in every few chapters without much introduction as to who they were or why we should care. Then Sefia just spent a year in the woods and the plot kept jumping around. Some kid who can split his concentration went to a Library to learn how to read. Then a ton more characters came in, but it was hard to connect with anyone. And despite all of the events happening, everything just felt super bland and lifeless.
I started with the audiobook (because the kindle and physical versions are weirdly expensive), but switched to the library’s e-book when I kept zoning out. The audio narrator is absolutely wonderful and I really liked her… so it was definitely the story that kept losing my interest.
Some of the writing was very well done, though! I liked some descriptions and the way the author described how Sefia could look at people and see strings of light coming off of them and their whole interconnected life at once. But despite the interesting premise, the way the story was carried out made none of it feel very original or interesting.
I don’t mind stories with a slow pace as long as I can connect with the characters or care about something, but that just didn’t happen here.