My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 13th 2016
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic, Pirates, Books about Books
Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.
This book is so interesting, so interesting. And not only because it’s a book that focuses on the adventures of a reader who has the ability to read the Book.
You know, I have read ‘‘books about books’’ in the past. I can name a few – Ink and Bone, Fangirl, The Book of Speculation – but they’re all petty rocks in comparison to this gem of a story.
Traci Chee’s The Reader is an exquisitely-written debut fantasy novel with a large set of diverse characters – pirates, assassins, thieves, magicians aka ‘‘Illuminators’’ – with overlapping stories in a world where writing and reading is forbidden and… uncharted territory.
The world-building the author introduces us to is teeming with hidden magic, danger at every corner and… huge potential. This is only the first book in a trilogy and already there is so much we know and yet so little, because there are still multiple layers to be peeled off in the future books.
The more information is revealed to us, the less we seem to know. And that’s when you know a book is worth your time. Because, even though you have more questions, these are questions you want – no, need – the answers to and therefore it’s something to be looking forward to as you’re reading. You’re reading because you want answers; you want to know what will happen next; you want to know how what you just learned will affect the story.
Not only are there various point of views from the majority of the characters we meet, but there are also short stories forming a side story incorporated in the main story. These stories are the ones Sefia is reading in the Book. So when Sefia, the Reader, is reading, we are also. I found that extremely clever. It made me feel closer to Sefia and the book itself.
Do not fear, the story may be complex and multi-layered, but everything inside of it unfolds in a slow, precise way. I mean it, this is a slow-paced fantasy, although well-balanced in terms of events.
There is so much to love about The Reader I’d be surprised if it doesn’t become a New York Times bestseller.
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