How did I feel about Naomi Novik’s Uprooted after finishing it? Well, let’s refer to my notes, shall we?
SO FUCKING GOOD! FIVE STARS! I finished with a huge ass smile on my face. I just, ahhh.
Hm… I’m not sure if that really encompasses my feelings. Let’s take a look at my Goodread’s review.
FIVE FUCKING STARS!!!!!!
Is this book perfect? Not necessarily. But I loved every second of it.
Okay then. There’s my thoughts on Uprooted. I gave it five stars and it makes me want to say “fucking”. That’s good enough for those who just want my general thoughts, but for those who want more…
Warning: There is some mild spoilage below. Nothing that I would consider to ruin the plot of the book or anything like that, but if you want to go into it knowing only what the blurb reveals, you may want to turn back now or read the headings but nothing else.
The unlikable but likable characters
I am a character-focused reader so of course I have to start by discussing the characters. And let me say, while I didn’t necessarily like the characters of Uprooted, I loved them.
Think about that a second. I didn’t like them but I loved them. Seriously, the fact that Novik could make that happen makes her a queen in my book.
You see, the characters definitely had their flaws. The girl who the stories focuses on, Nieshka, was quite annoying and irritating at points with her defiant attitude and reckless actions. She was, in many ways, a Special Snowflake (warning for those who can’t stand the type) and though it was great seeing her stand up for herself and do things of her own accord, it would’ve been nice for her to think about the possible consequences of her actions before running into trouble at every possible moment.
And the Dragon? The guy who lives in a tower and kidnaps a girl from the nearby town once a decade? Well, he was definitely a cranky old man with no patience. There is no limit to the amount of verbal abuse he spews at Nieshka throughout the book and, really, it would’ve done him good at times to break himself free from his traditions.
But hey, you see all that? You see all these issues with these characters? I DIDN’T CARE!
Yeah, Nieshka was stupid at times, but it meant things kept happening! The book kept moving! There was always some nonsense going on because she couldn’t just leave well enough alone.
And sure, the Dragon was a bit of an ass, but I totally understood it! If some girl came in and totally disrupted my way of life after decades of doing what I have to do as the HBIC wizard of the land, I would be pissy and short-tempered with her as well.
For me, there was just a perfect balance for these characters to be unlikable but likable. They had their flaws (don’t we all?), but there was enough understanding on my part to still root them on.
And that’s not even getting into the other characters. Let’s just say for those of you who want strong friendships in a book: Kasia, Kasia, Kasia. I love that girl
That magic stuff
Haha, come on, don’t you remember my Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them review: Fantastic beasts, boys, and magic… It doesn’t take much to win me over? I’m a sucker for magic in stories.
I think my favorite thing about the magic in this story is how… evil it was. (That’s not surprising, huh?) I loved that The Woods was this mysterious place full of dark magic where people would disappear and the trees themselves couldn’t be trusted. And that even when the wizards used magic, it was often to fight (even at times against themselves). It didn’t seem like the magic was just used for the hell of it. It was ruthless and intimidating in many ways, and I think that’s a good thing.
I also liked the contrast that appeared between Nieshka’s and the Dragon’s magic. While it did make her seem a Special Snowflake in some ways, it was quite intriguing and I enjoyed watching their different types of magic come together.
I’d say the only thing that didn’t work for me at times was the consequence of using magic. This was one of those stories in which using magic exhausts the wizard, and using it too much can be deadly. And yet at times it seemed like wizards were using magic after magic after magic with some minor fatigue but nothing as serious of a consequence as one would expect. I mean, obviously I don’t know the daily limit to a wizard’s power, but boy, were they put to work.
Oh, and I would’ve liked Baba Jaga to make an appearance or to dive deeper into her story. I wanted to know more.
Lastly, let’s end this review with a word on the romance.
I am not a romance reader. I prefer stories without and will steer away if I know a book focuses heavily on the love with between two MCs. Luckily, this book isn’t like that.
Novik is sort of a tease. She gets you excited about the romance that takes place within this book, but then it pulls it apart… and the puts it back together… and then pulls it apart. I actually found myself disappointed when the romance was separated and excited to see what would come when reunited – such a rare thing for me!
There just seemed to be the perfect balance between allowing some intimacy to form between these characters without pulling away from the action of the story. Things happened, as things do, but they always turned back to the trouble at hand.
Plus, the fact that neither character ever sacrificed their identities for the other? That they were both stubborn and did what they felt needed to be done without letting their love and affection for each other get in the way? Loved it. I feel like it’s needed so much more in the stories I read.
(Though I will say wow, I’m not used to reading adult books. Some of those scenes were a bit intense… haha.)
So that’s it! My long, ramble on Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. Is it a perfect book? Not necessarily. It is sitting high on my favorites shelf? Absolutely. It’s a book it seems readers either love or hate, so hopefully you end up on the love side with me.
And, if nothing else, it’s got a pretty cover. (Well, the UK version anyways.)
Have you read Uprooted? Let me know what you thought below! Disagree with me on anything? Anything else you loved that you think I missed? And if you haven’t read it yet, do you think you will? What can I do to convince you it’d be a good life decision?