Friday, June 6, 2014

BLOG TOUR: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Queen of the Tearling (Book #1)
Author: Erika Johansen
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: July 8/2014
Acquired:  Print ARC provided by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.


I think it's safe to say that publishing houses would reap the benefits of this piece of advice: STOP comparing books to other books. And for the love of all that is epic and beautifully narrated, STOP comparing them to fantastic, well-loved books. You unfairly set your readers up in a "there is no way you WON'T love this" mindset, and then completely obliterate their hopeful bubbles when the book ends up being sub-par, at best. The Queen of the Tearling was entertaining, despite being poorly developed, BUT, it was not, in this universe, or any other universe in existence, a melding of The Hunger Games and The Game of Thrones. Let's just pretend that reader advisory wasn't even made, and move on...

I won't rehash the synopsis of The Queen of the Tearling, because the one that exists is already quite wordy (note: this is appropriate foreshadowing for the type of narrative you will find within as well). The book started off with a strong sense of intrigue: the entire royal guard has come to collect the new Queen at her humble forest home, so she can be returned to the castle and claim her rightful place on the throne. What adventures lay ahead? What will we learn of this strange new land? OH the anticipation of-SQUIRREL!....Oh, where were we? Ahh, that's right, we were describing that leaf over there. Wait, that's not right, we were being given a fantastically complex breakdown of how this new world came to be. We were delving into character developments, focusing on the strength and endurance of our main character, and we were falling in love with this epic new series.

No, we weren't. I was correct the first time, we were describing that leaf over there...

And so it goes, through almost a third of the book. A spew of overly descriptive writing, with only a peep-hole of glimpses and explanation into the area of world-building. I already had an inkling from multiple mentions and references to Harry Potter (!?), but it wasn't until I read professional reviews that I discovered that this book was apparently set 300 years into our future-it took place right here, in our very own backyard. It was at this point that I gave up on trying to communicate with my good friend, logic. Johansen was successful in confusing the heck out of me, and I couldn't understand why she chose this particular route for her story's backdrop-it just made no sense. WHY has society backtracked into such archaic times? WHY did some simple technologies (i.e. birth control) make it, while others didn't? The inconsistencies in this book were many, and close together. The narrative just couldn't make up it's mind, and I refused to adopt the "IT JUST WAS, okay?" theory. I wanted more explanation, I craved it.

All perplexities aside, The Queen of the Tearling was a good attempt at something that had far greater potential. The characters were built to be inhabited by much stronger, and better developed, personalities; the world of "New Europe," was literally begging for it's history to be recanted with a voice, and hand, that paid it's respect to the eager, and not-easily-fooled, minds of it's readers. I was disappointed by this book, but still read it, in it's entirety, and was entertained enough to keep turning the pages. The characters, mainly our star lead, and new Queen, Kelsea, managed to squeeze herself into some downright head-shaking moments. I definitely wanted to know how she would salvage her messes.

I WILL be reading the rest of this series, if only to find out if it redeems itself in it's second installment. Also, c'mon, a movie adaptation with Emily Watson playing the lead? This book is going to sell itself on that fact alone...pity.

Recommended for fans of: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian, Historical Fiction, The Lost Amulet Chronicles by Katie Lynn Johnson.


Thank-you to Trish from TLC Book Tours for hosting this tour, and to Harper Collins for sending me a print ARC to review!

CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour


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