Friday, September 30, 2016

The Rose Society (September Reads)

I read 11 books in September:

The Laws of Our Fathers by Scott Turow
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
The Art and Craft of Storytelling by Nancy Lamb
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
World After by Susan Ee
The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs (reviewed for The Washington Independent Review of Books- post coming soon!)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Hooked by Les Edgerton

I received The Rose Society through a GoodReads Giveaway. I then realized I hadn’t yet read the first book in the series (The Young Elites).

(Insert long pause while I obtain and read first book.)

Since I read these two books back to back, it’s going to be difficult for me to talk only about The Rose Society, especially since my main comment applies to both.

These books are good. And I had a very hard time reading them. Yes, I know that sounds contradictory.

The thing is, any review or commentary on a book is as much about the reader of the book as it is about the book. We bring all of our life experience with us when we sit down to read. That colors the story in a way that the writer can never begin to imagine when they write it.

Marie Lu is a great writer. She has crafted a compelling plot, with developed characters. But I found that I was unable to get lost in the story.

My problem is Adelina, the main character.

She is not a good guy. She wants the crown. Not to help her country. Not to help her family and friends. She just wants the crown. On her head.

That does not make her unlikeable. People want what they want.

There are always reasons.

In this series, there are definitely reasons for Adelina’s behavior and choices. One of the reasons is mentioned throughout the books. Her alignment. She aligns with ambition. She wants power. For the sake of having power.

The books present this as something inherent to her nature. It’s just how she is. She was born this way.

I can go with that. To a point. For me, though, the story is richer if I then see the character CHOOSE to follow her nature. I want to see a character decide that they are going to do the bad thing, even though they know it is the bad thing.

As I was reading these books, I missed those choices. I read the story as Adelina being driven by something she didn’t have control over.

After I finished, I started to question my reading. Adelina does make choices. She makes those choices even though they hurt her, rip her to shreds.

I overlooked them as I read. Which made me dig around inside my own head a bit.

What I realized is that I am not like Adelina. I am not driven by ambition. I do not want power. Please, no. That made it hard for me to see her choices for what they were. Because I would not make the choices she makes. I would not sacrifice what she sacrifices.

That does not make her choices wrong. That does not make her a poorly written character. That does not make this book less than great.

I will read the rest of the series. I will try harder to lose myself in Adelina’s world, in her choices when I do.

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