Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

First Impressions. I read this book again in anticipation of our Mock Printz.

Usually I write notes as I read, for some reason though, this time I guess I was feeling lazy because I waited until the end to write anything. I'm sure we'll all suffer because of that haha.

My first thoughts were basically about how dense this story is. To take a look at the book you might not think it was too long (it clocks in at around 400 pages which is nothing to snear at) but I swear by the time you're done you'll be convinced you read at least 800 pages. If not more. This sucker reads like a multi-volume epic. I mean there is just a lot of stuff going on in this book. I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, but I did feel a bit like I had been put through the wringer.

This is probably the grittiest YA fantasy I have ever read. Think The Road for teens if The Road had a bit less baby eatin' and a bit more rape and pestilence with a sprinkle of hope mixed in (hey, both are journeys...hahaha..er). Honestly? The book is bleak. Now is this a bad thing? I don't think so. I thought it was a great strength of the novel. This is not a book to glorify violence, nor is it a book to shy away from showing the results of violence. At times that makes it a difficult read, but perhaps more worthy for that.

The dialogue was a bit meladramatic at times, a little flowery and the characters said things that I had a hard time believing would ever come out of anyone's mouth ever. But I'll tell you what, I knew what was going to happen this time and I still couldn't put it down.

Looking over my first review I still had a major "what the what?" moment when the narration cuts unexpectedly away from Finniken to Froi for one chapter. For 239 pages we've been clearly been following Finniken. Then for one single chapter we follow Froi. Talk about jarring. That part did not get better on the second read.

All in all though, this is a real good one.

Book Source: Personal Copy


joanna said...

I finished this one last week and it still lingers. About 2/3 of the way through I decided this book wasn't for me and flipped through to the end. I was tired with the density and I was frankly put out with Evanjalin and her dreams. What do we do now? Oh, Evanjalin had a dream! BUT once I saw the ending I was curious to how it happened and picked the book back up where I left it.

I do think she is one of the best characters this year. It was interesting to read Katniss, Katsa and her all in succession. Strong women warriors. Girls are so lucky these days to have such interesting reading.

I also thought the underling themes of immigration, displacement, refugees, language & cultural identity were extremely timely with what is going on here in the US. Marchetta makes her point very clear. While contemporary social issues in fantasy isn't anything new, I kind of chalked this up to her experience as a realistic fic writer as well.

The violence was really very difficult for me and one of the reasons I was giving up. So much rape and abuse of young people. War is horrible, but holy moly. She was also very open about sex & desire. It made me chuckle with the passage about August and his wife. Old folks getting it on. Ha! and also maybe TMI. :)

Does Evanjalin go to the mine prison to visit Trevanion in person or does she in a dream? She said something about telling the guards she has a sick fantasy for prisoners.

Patti said...

That's a good question. I figured in person. Which seemed odd when reading it since they seemed pretty willy nilly about who they throw in jail. I wondered why they didn't just throw her in jail too.

You know what I thought was too much? The violence in the jail. This brought it back to mind.

joanna said...

So did she use sex to get to him? I'm kind of wondering about the prophesy & blood.

Patti said...

Huh. I don't think so. I don't seem to remember that. Lots of tension between them though.

Dog Ear said...

Patti: I remember that "what the what" moment too! Where did that come from? But the sequel will be told from Froi's perspective.

Joanna: While there was a lot of violence, it didn't bother me that it was included. After all, the social issues Marchetta is tackling are gritty and often ugly. It may be uncomfortable to read but I think that's just great writing. I was intrigued to whole time!

Patti said...

I'm reading Ship Breaker again and I think it will be interesting to contrast the two. Both are gritty and realistically violent, but at this point I think Ship Breaker is making Finnikin look a little amateurish. What say you guys?

joanna said...

I'm reading Ship Breaker now (library found their copy) so I'll get back to you. And Dog Ear - SEQUEL?!? Intrigued. That it comes from Froi makes me think of how Megan Whelan Turner changed her POVs with each volume of the Thief books.