Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling is first in a series--it's been reviewed in Entertainment Weekly (actually the review is for the second one, but they do say to go read the first) and gets a comparison to The Hunger Games, though it is backhanded.

I think this book is better off if the comparison is not made.  It's a solid fantasy novel featuring a strong female lead--the audience clearly is the same as The Hunger Games.  Otherwise, it's more of a good fun read than a message piece.  It makes an interesting contrast with one of this year's multiple award nominees, The Goblin Emperor.  Both feature young protagonists living in exile, then thrust into leadership and danger unprepared.  But The Goblin Emperor's empire is a relatively peaceful and prosperous realm, while The Tearling is a deeply troubled kingdom in need of a savior.  The Goblin Emperor ends up to be the more unusual of the stories, though I would say both are very well written.

The Queen of the Tearling pushes a lot of YA teen girl buttons--concern over physical appearance, a kingdom in danger, a dashing and dangerous romantic interest, and untapped inner strength.  They're all done very well, with good pacing and plenty of action.  It was a fun book, I can easily give it 3 stars and recommend it.  

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