I spend a LOT of time browsing Overdrive through my library. I also have been having headaches that make the thought of looking at words sound like torture. So I happened upon the audiobook of Uprooted by Naomi Novik and decided to give it a try.
Have you read Uprooted? What did you think of it?
|“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. (Goodreads)
I give Uprooted 4 out of 5 stars!
I started out thinking I wouldn’t even be able to finish the story. The narrator for the audiobook has (or read with) an accent to match the feel of the book – very eastern European sounding. After a few listens though, I was able to stop focusing on how much the accent grated on my nerves and enjoy the story being told. This is not to say I don’t understand what was being worked toward with the choice of narrator (immersion in the story/setting), just that personally I didn’t enjoy it as much as some do.
Other than the accent though, I thought the reader did a very good job. By the end I was glad to have chosen this format. I admit I’m not good at names, or slowing down to pronounce names, and that I would have likely confused the places and people and had a hard time knowing what was really going on. Hearing the names of the people and places, however, made it easier for me to keep straight which was a town, which was a person, and what part they played in the story.
Ok, now that I’ve covered the audiobook aspect of this reading, let’s talk about the story itself.
I really enjoyed Agnieszka’s voice and descriptions. While listening to the book I was right alongside her. I enjoyed that she wasn’t “the most beautiful” or “the smartest,” that she was considered clumsy, that her mom made her sit still once she was ready for a festival so that she didn’t ruin her clothes.
The story was really pretty episodic. There were a lot of adventures in the story, but they all tied into and built up the bigger story, which I really enjoyed. I remember at one point in time I was thinking “what did that have to do with anything?” but it all evened out.
I loved the magic in this story. The different approaches Agnieska and the Dragon took were very interesting. I loved the descriptions how Agnieska navigated the currents of magic, and how it bewildered the poor Dragon (and the other wizards, too).
So what’s stopping this from being a 5-star read? Well, at times it felt like magic was an easy out of certain situations, and times when Agnieska seemed to just ignore the rules of how much magic to use, but there weren’t consequences for this. There was also a time or two when I felt like the story was starting to drag, and at the beginning Agnieska would drop a big bit of backstory and all I wanted to know was what’s happening NOW.
***SPOILERS BELOW THIS POINT***
There were a few things that I want to discuss, but I think they’re considered spoiler-y, so here they are.
As someone in a Twitter chat pointed out, could the Dragon read minds? Or was Agnieszka’s face that readable? Sometimes I wasn’t sure which it was. Also-did all the girls he took have an affinity for magic? Or was Agnieska the first?
I don’t know if I’m spelling this right, but Alyosha’s injuries? They were never mentioned between the Dragon and Agnieszka, and I kept waiting for a conversation about it, but it never came. Then in the end it was just “she’ll take a long time to recover.” Not the closure I was looking for in that part of the story, I guess.
I LOVED the attraction between Agnieszka and the Dragon. LOVED IT. I should be able to elaborate on this…but I’m having difficulty doing so. I think it had to do with the fact that she started out absolutely HATING him, and then that undeniable attraction between them and their magic intermingling and OOOHHHH!
Kasia. What will become of her? I’d really like to know if eventually she might return to the Wood.
At the very end, I had resigned myself to the idea that the Dragon was gone. I pretty much squealed when he showed up.