SOURCE: audiobook – audible.com
LENGTH: 416 pages
Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin’s unpredictable behavior suggests that she is not what she seems — and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her, but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.
REVIEW: It is always strange to write a review about a book that I didn’t finish. I guess I can’t really call it a review – more like a partial review. I want to share my thoughts because this book was recommended to me by more than one Reading Friend I trust and I still didn’t like it. It was disappointing because I really like Melina Marchetta. I have recommended Saving Francesca
and Jellicoe Road
to countless students and friends so I was anticipating another great read with Finnikin.
Even after 100 pages, I couldn’t really get into it. I polled my PLN and was encouraged to stick with it but I never really connected with it.
My main issue with the book was the pacing. Finnikin seems to do a lot of traveling but gets nowhere. He and his entourage seem to be wandering around the map, randomly choosing places to search for people who might be there based on hearsay and rumors. Evanjalin’s role seems to change as often as the rules in one of Girl Athlete’s made up games. First she’s a Novice, then she’s a Lumaterean exile, then she’s some kind of mystical being whose dark dreams may save them or destroy them. Evanjalin promises that Balthazar is alive, then is exposed as a liar, then tries to convince everyone she still holds the key to their return to Lumatere. It all seems disjointed and contrived.
The violence and gore during the fight scenes seems sensational more than necessary and Finnikin seems rather sexually advanced for his supposed age. Finnikin is more annoying, needy squire than charistmatic emerging leader: he’s arrogant and brash with very little experience to back up his bravado. With a main character that grates and a plot that drags, I just couldn’t make myself finish it – abandonment guilt or no.