My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a fun book, and reading it whiled away a pleasant afternoon. I recommend it to people who love a good portal fantasy the way I do, and I’m following on Amazon so I can grab the next in the series as soon as it comes out.
The author has a clean, straightforward storytelling style, and the first-person point-of-view in this book brings out the best in it. The setting is a basic fantasy world (magic, dragons, semi-feudal societies warring over territory and power) Nothing notably twisty or shockingly original, but all perfectly enjoyable. The story is YA-friendly with a romantic pairing that never goes behind closed doors.
I would put 3.25 stars if Goodreads would allow fractions.
You may well ask, why the compliments but not more stars? Because I am a mean and horrible person. No, wait, that isn’t it. Because I am a literary snob? Bwahahahahaha. no. I like all kinds of books in all genres, and I enjoy a wide variety of writing styles and levels of complexity.
I am an avid reader, however, with a lot more books in my brain than my Goodreads profile indicates. (I am also lazy, and rating hundreds of extensive bibliographies holds no appeal.) My experience does influence my evaluation.
A book has to have something special to even catch my eye these days, and I don’t start from five stars and subtract. Like a figure skating judge, I start at zero, and a book has to earn my interest and respect one character, one trope, one plot twist at a time. “I liked it” describes my satisfaction level for a lot of good books.
I would put 3.25 stars if Goodreads allowed halvsies, but not more. This one hit some personal buttons about character depth, convenient coincidences, and plot-driven motives (the romantic sub-plot especially) The writing and ideas are good enough I wish there was more than the basics, and that’s where the .25 comes in. But when there’s no one in the book for me to relate to, then it won’t ever get more from me.
Nothing red-flagged; it’s just a lot of the usual: strong woman warrior who conveniently still needs rescue and of course falls in love with the male hero, everyone trusts the outsider hero because a wise elder gives the seal of approval, modern dude comes in and unites the natives who can’t fight the evil themselves until he points the way…
There’s a reason these are popular tropes. They’re satisfying and fulfilling for many people. I don’t happen to be one of them. I’m bored when the only characters who share my gender in an adventure tale are sidelined and/or treated as a prize–and the stereotyped romantic dialogue made me roll my eyes. Plenty of lip service is paid to the strength and importance of the female protagonist, but in the final analysis, everything she does and says is aimed at helping the hero and serves to make him look good. Yawn.
So. Read the “Look Inside,” and if the main character makes you smile, then grab this one up and enjoy the adventures.