Uprooted by Naomi Novik

GoodReads Summary:
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course, that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
My brain is definitely still processing everything that happened in this book. I tried to sort out my feelings by reading other reviews and that failed because I found out that there were quite a lot of readers that didn’t like this story at all. That really surprised me because I enjoyed this story. I think that’s because I tend to look at the positive things rather than zeroing in on the negatives.
I liked this story. I thought I’d give it a try because I’ve seen such rave reviews for Novik’s newest book, Spinning Silver. Uprooted was available through my library so I was excited to see what everyone was so excited about.
At the beginning of the book, I was a little unsure as to where this story was going to take me. Hearing about this mysterious man that takes a girl from one of the villages every ten years made me wonder what exactly was going to happen. And then learning about the unknown evil that is “The Wood.” The farther I got into this book the more I enjoyed it. There was a darkness within it that I wasn’t expecting from reading the synopsis. I think this darkness made me like it just that much more. I liked the interesting aspect of “The Wood” being this unknown evil and the fights or battles leading up to the crazy climax of Uprooted. This was a fairytale sort of book so the darkness was an interesting twist. I think this darkness is what kept me so interested in the book. I needed to know what was going to happen.
As for the characters, our female lead wasn’t anything to write home about. She was a messy, plain girl that can’t seem to do anything right. Suddenly she finds out that she’s special and has magical powers, but of course, she’s not magical in the traditional way. Her powers don’t work in the usual way so her mentor’s attempts to teach her fall short and he makes her life much harder than it needs to be. Really the only special thing about her is her complete lack of sense, she’s headstrong and has no regard for her own safety. She does show how much she cares for her loved ones. Saving those she cares for is usually the reason she’s running into danger that she knows she may not survive. She’s brave and a little outrageous and I liked seeing it come out of her as the story progressed and she really grew into herself. She started to gain confidence and care less that she was sort of a hot mess. I liked that about her. I also like where the story left her. It was an excellent conclusion to this crazy story.
The Dragon was a character that I really wasn’t sure how to feel about. I’m still not sure how to feel about him. Somehow we’re supposed to see him as a love interest but his relationship with our female lead was pretty aggressive. He spends most of the beginning of the book insulting her for being sloppy, for not being able to do magic the way he wants her to, for being outspoken and caring too much about the people from her village she’s had to leave behind. I understand why he felt that he needed to be such a jerk the whole time, but by the end of the book, he totally should have changed his attitude a bit more. He definitely could have lightened up a bit. I think he overplayed the jerk role just a little bit.
Overall I enjoyed this story. Uprooted was a story that grabbed me and wouldn’t spit me out until the last page. There was darkness within these pages that I didn’t anticipate but it really just made the story even better. Most fairytale type stories don’t have darkness aside from the villain and this story was full of twists and turns that were unexpected that definitely left me needing some time to comprehend what I’d read. The characters could have been better developed. There wasn’t a whole lot of character development in regards to them changing and growing for the better, but they did what the needed to. I would definitely read this story again and I’m excited to read the other works that Novik has written.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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