Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

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At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere. 

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock–to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.
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Rating: 3 stars

I feel sad that I didn’t like this book more. The amount of raving reviews I read before hand kind of made me think it would be something amazing. I’m not saying this is a bad book. It is really well written, to the point where I am willing to carry on with the series. However, I feel I didn’t connect with it as well as everyone else did. I think that the reason I didn’t necessarily like this book was not because of it being over hyped, I  actually understand why people love it so much. But I think it was because I felt it dragged on for so long that I kind of had to force myself to sit and read it.

There are a few things I really enjoyed about this book and one was how realistic it was, yeah I know it’s a fantasy, but it didn’t fell like it was accommodating to the clichéd scenarios that so frequently present themselves in other young adult fantasy novels. I didn’t roll my eyes once which was a breath of fresh air. The world in which this series is set is intriguing and it has its good and bad aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed the darker aspects which rarely make appearances in YA, with references to famine, disease, rape and death on a huge scale. It’s a little bit morbid of me to like reading about it but it really gave a much darker edge to the book that I was not expecting.

This book is definitely a story centred on its characters. There is an enormous array of characters that make appearances throughout the book that were really interesting and well formed. My only problem is that I want to know more about them. I really loved Trevanion and Froi. I could read entire books about them (thank god the next one in the series is Froi of the Exiles!). I disliked Evanjalin though, although there were aspects of her character that I liked, there was too much that I didn’t like. It makes me wonder what everyone else sees that I don’t.

There were some parts of the book and the world building that I didn’t like, that were well, confusing. I literally couldn’t picture what Lumatere was meant to look like. I feel that despite the huge amount of detail that Marchetta goes into in this book, she wasted it on things that didn’t matter and could have had more use in the descriptions of the world that the book is meant to be set. Although the writing is fabulous, there were also aspects which I just did not understand, I understand that it is part of Marchetta’s writing style, but I actually found myself trying to guess what was actually happening. I feel that these parts were meant to be obvious to the reader, I don’t know whether I was just being dense, but it really lowered my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, I do think this is a book worth reading. I don’t regret it, I just really wish I could have enjoyed it more. I will make my way through the other two books, but I may save them for a rainy day.

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