Review of The Reader by Traci Chee

25064648The Reader by Traci Chee. ★★★

The Reader is the start to a new YA fantasy series set in a world where reading is virtually unknown… but for those who learn it, it gives magical powers.

After her father was murdered, Sefia has spent her entire life on the run with her aunt Nin, carrying the strange object left to her by her father. When Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is determined to rescue her. She soon realizes that the object is a book and that it may prove the key to rescuing Nin.

The Reader is one of those books where I liked it enough to keep reading it, but now that I’ve finished it seems to have passed through my head like water through a sieve, leaving no emotional impressions. In part this could be due to the longer than usual delay between finishing the book and writing this review, but even the notes I wrote immediately after finishing it were scarce.

The one thing I do remember thinking while reading the book was that the world building wasn’t as developed as I would have liked. Maybe it’s because so much of the book involves Sefia being away from any settlement, traveling through the forest, but I never felt like the places in the book became much more than names. I never got much of a feel for the different cultures or societies in the lands Sefia travels through. It feels like the generic YA fantasy adventure setting.

I don’t think The Reader is terrible. I just think it could be better. I never felt much of a connection to any of the characters, and I could see all the plot twists coming from a mile away. Something about it actually struck me as more MG than YA, although I can’t say why this is.

I’m not planning on continuing with the series, although I think I enjoyed it while I was reading it.



6 Comments Add yours

  1. Tammy says:

    I have a copy of this, and I’ve read a couple of glowing reviews. But I know what you mean about YA books that feel more like MG. Now I’m curious to try this myself, since you weren’t blown away by it:-)

    1. Yeah, I’d heard enough good things about it that I bought it in hardback. Maybe I was overhyped?

  2. I enjoyed this more than you, but I can also see your point about the sparsity of the world-building. Maybe because the structure was so disjointed and the story jumped from place to place so much?

    1. Maybe. I think travel focused books can also suffer from not really having time to sink into a setting.

  3. Oh shame! I had this on my list to investigate further, but I had reservations to begin with. I think it’s so tricky when authors have premises that depend on the idea that reading and books are the most important things. I don’t disagree, but I also don’t like feeling I’m being pandered to AND sometimes I think authors with bookish premises just rest on their bookish laurels instead of developing their worlds fully.

    1. Same. It seems like I have that problem with “art is magic” books as well.

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