I didn’t expect to find myself publishing a book review at 9:30pm on a Saturday evening. Especially when I have another blog post coming in the morning. But I just decided to DNF this book, and while I usually just leave my explanation on Goodreads…well, this one took some explaining. My “mini review” wasn’t exactly mini anymore. So I did a quick hop-skip-and a jump over here, and decided to publish it here too.
Let’s get into it!
(Found on Goodreads)
Britannia. A conquered land.
Running. Weeping. Blood on her lips.
Blood in her mouth.
Blood that is not her own.
After maiming her master, Cassia has no choice but to run. Beyond the river, fair to the north, stands Hadrian’s Wall – the furthest limit of the mighty Roman Empire. And beyond the wall? Freedom. With dogs on her trail and a bounty on her head, the journey seems impossible. But then Cassia meets Marcus – slick, slippery, silver-tongued – a true and perfect son of Rome. And her only hope.
*This book was sent to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review
DNF’ed at page 154
I’m not really sure how to go about this. Because from what I read, it’s not exactly a bad book. It’s just…not one for me.
I didn’t get along with the writing style. One of the first things I picked up on was the excess amount of exclamation marks used. Which fair enough, can show more emotion. But…it just made the main character sound like she was being melodramatic. I couldn’t really take her seriously, she sounded somewhat childish. And I thought to myself “well, she is a teenage girl. Maybe that’s how the author sees us all.” Which wouldn’t have made it any better, really. But then we switched to an old man’s side of the story, and the exclamation marks were still there, and so…maybe not.
It didn’t really help that the story moved so quickly. While it might be good for some – don’t we all love getting through a book really quickly? – to me it just felt like every event was based off a lot of handy conveniences, when in reality nothing like that would have happened. Wow, this girl is lucky.
And while the story was going ok for me, something about the writing grated on me. I’m not saying it’s an awful book – not at all – it’s just really not for me. If someone else I know wants to read this book, then I’m happy to give it to them and hope they enjoy it more. It’s just a shame I didn’t like it myself, I had high hopes.
One final thing I feel I ought to mention: there’s one particular sentence that lodged itself into my mind, because it just seemed…wrong. I would say racist, but it’s a bit of a rocky situation, and I don’t feel it’s my place to say with certainty. I’ll explain.
So, there’s a scene where the main character is disguising herself so she can escape the city. Bare in mind this is set in the Roman Empire. So, the main character has these marks around her wrists and ankles where her mother had pricked pigment into her skin as a baby. As you would expect, these could be used to identify her. And so during the process of her disguise, this sentence says…
“Her arms and legs, her face and hands were darkened with walnut juice from the same source until the marks on ankles and wrists were almost obliterated and she looked like what she was pretending to be – the boy slave of a traveling trader.”
Now for the many thoughts on this. First of all, I don’t know how strong walnut juice works as a stain but just hang on – why does she need to be “darkened” to look like a slave? She was a slave right from the beginning of this book, with tanned skin from working outdoors and ginger hair. And it’s mentioned countless times how pretty she is at that point. She was “chosen” for her master’s son, of course she must be pretty. And yet, to LOOK like a slave she has to be…”darkened”? That just seems like racist prejudice to me. Would it not have been better to find a substance that closely matched her skin tone and just cover the marks? Or would that mean she doesn’t look like a slave, if she keeps her natural skin tone? You see what I’m getting at here?
Of course, I may be wrong. I’m a teen blogger still learning every day about diversity and what phrases are a no-no, but the fact that that one sentence jumped out of the page at me screaming NO… Well, that says enough for me to at least mention it. I could be wrong. I could be making a fuss over nothing. It could be an unfortunate mess of phrasing. I will say that nothing else in the book seemed racist, though I can’t vouch for the second half since I marked it DNF. It was just that one sentence, but I thought I’d mention it anyway because to me, it’s just wrong.
Anyway, this “mini-review” is a not-so-mini review after all that explaining. But I hope I got my points across clearly. I just didn’t want to continue this book and come out of it with a review full of hate, after forcing myself to finish it. So here we are today. This is just my experience of the book. No book is for everyone.
Rated 1/5 stars
Share your thoughts!
Have you read this book? What did you think?
If you haven’t, have you read any of her other books?
Is this on your TBR?
Let me know in the comments!
Until next time…
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