One of the most hyped books of 2018, with not one, but two versions of early review copies sent out to reviewers and booksellers months in advance, some with a special promo box, 'Furyborn' has been primed for its release for (I'm hazarding a guess) about 8 months now. Every blogger and reviewer I know has wanted to get their hands on a copy of this book to read and review (and likely have the 'one with the artwork on the cover' in their permanent collection) because it is THE book on everyone's blog, and the 'must-read fantasy series of 2018', according to blurb on the back of the book. The publicity campaign has done a rip-roaringly good job to get everyone on board. So does it live up to the hype? Those are high stakes these days when YA fantasy is the genre to reel everyone in.
The premise is grand: two young women, one thousand years apart from each other, hold the immense power that will either save their world or doom it. Each one is either the queen of light and salvation, or the queen of blood and destruction, according to prophecy: which one is the Sun Queen, and who is the Blood Queen?
Rielle Dardenne must endure seven trials to test her magic, which she has been hiding since was a child, and prove herself to be in control of her elemental powers, or she will be executed. Then, some thousand years later, Eliana Ferracora is the counterpart to would-be Queen Rielle. She is a bounty hunter and assassin, known as the ‘Dread of Orline’, and she goes on a mission to find her mother who has been taken along with countless other women, in the violent empire of Ventera. Eliana has had to join a rebel captain, the ‘Wolf’, to get to the heart of the disappearances. And while Rielle knew of her powers for many years, Eliana is just coming to terms with her magic, the power that her body has to heal itself. These two storylines and timelines alternate back and forth throughout the novel, between Rielle and Eliana, and don’t seem to relate to each other; the only thing binding them together throughout is talk of the Sun and Blood Queen .
So I’ll be honest: it was really hard for me to connect to ‘Furyborn’, and I dipped in and out of the book for a while and read several complete other books at the same time, which is unusual for me. It’s only at about halfway through the book that I became more invested in the story and the characters (and then only somewhat), and then I reserved my time solely to this book. For a long book (512 pages), having to read half of it to get invested, is close to reading a whole shorter-length YA novel, so that’s a lot of reading to try and see what all the fuss is about. It’s not to say there wasn’t any action happening on those pages; it just felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t even put my finger on why I felt like the action wasn't ‘happening’, but I rarely ever skim through words on a page but sometimes I wanted to because the same stuff seemed to keep repeating itself.
I was also getting tired of the back and forth between the two storylines; maybe if the reader got to sit with one of the characters longer, a better connection could be felt. I personally felt like you never are given a true feeling for the actual relationships in this book because you can never stay with them long enough to connect with them.
Both lead characters lack the real spunk or inner beauty that I feel they needed to shine through as deserved heroines, so maybe that was what held me back from truly loving their stories. I didn’t feel like either of them were pulling me through to the finish line.
Despite the world-building and the pretty fascinating underbelly of this novel built on dark angels and visions, which are pretty good openings for some amazing subplots, as well as the thrilling opening to the book ‘An End, and a Beginning’, I don’t feel like ‘Furyborn’ delivered for me.
Legrand is a dynamic author and her lyrical writing skills make much of what you read look like poetry. But I don’t like feeling as though a book is 100 pages longer than it needs to be, just so a book is an ‘epic fantasy novel’. I also wanted more time (but not with extra pages) to get to know these characters so I could connect to them. I hate feeling like I’m writing all of this and it will be an unpopular opinion, but I think this could have been so much better, because this was a ‘big one’, but I’ll be reaching, not for the sequel of this, but for Legrand’s ‘Sawkill Girls’ next.
Please note that I received his via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
I had a hard time with this one. I think the back and forth of the story-lines, Cookie being "fat" and Cookie afterwards being "skinny" just made the flow of this book slow to a crawl. We also had to keep re-reading the same point made over and over again. I also thought Cookie's relationship (she's 19) with an older man (he's 31) did not read as loving or even romantic, it was just messed up the whole way through. I also didn't like the resolution between her and her supposed best friend Thomas, he was a jerk and a user who didn't stand up for her at all. DeVos tries to wrap things up in a nice tidy bow, it just didn't really work.
So I was initially intrigued by the premise of this novel. We have a young woman (Cookie) who is the daughter of a well known model who has struggled with her weight for a number of years. When she has an awful experience trying to fly and is forced to buy a second seat she decides that she is over having to deal with being treated as less than due to her size. Deciding to join a weight loss company (think Jenny Craig but called NutriNation) she finally starts to lose the weight. However, she has a harder time putting to rest a lot of things she has carried with her.
Cookie Vonn is dealing with her first year at college and is off to interview a well known fashion designer, Gareth Miller. Newly skinny, she meets Gareth on a plane and does her best to resist him. When he offers her an opportunity to design clothes with him she ping pongs between being with him and avoiding her past.
I honestly don't know about Cookie. I was meh on her for most of this book. Probably because she has a lot of issues that I don't think are worked out very well in the end. She had an absentee mother and father who sound like the worst. A stepfather who is creepy. And a solid grandmother. Until her best friend Thomas ditched her for someone awful, she seemed to be doing alright. I just didn't buy that the girl who are introduced to in this book would be so foolish to get involved with Gareth, there is no substance there at all.
Speaking of Gareth, I was bored of reading about the lifestyles of the rich and famous (the "Skinny" chapters) with her and Gareth flying everywhere and her being hot for him. I wanted to actually read more about design, the history of fashion, some more descriptions of clothing that Cookie was making. The fashion for the most part takes a back seat.
The other characters don't work at all either. Cookie's parents are barely in this, but the backstory to them doesn't work very well. Things are also left hanging between Cookie and her parents too so we don't even get a resolution.
I loathed Thomas. Sorry. All of the mess that went down between him and Cookie, I think that her grandmother telling her to keep taking the high road was nonsense. She was wronged and even arrested (mild spoiler) cause of his actions. He chooses to be with someone who dismisses Cookie and calls her Cankles. His entire actions shows that he doesn't care about her at all. I was fine with him disappearing in the "Skinny" chapters until he shows his face again.
We get some other minor characters that don't really sing for me at all.
The writing didn't really work for me in the "Skinny" sections. In the "Fat" chapters with Cookie finishing up her last year of high school and dealing with the loss of her best friend to a new nemesis, I felt that book was more authentic for me as a reader. If deVos could have found a way to make the two versions of Cookie work together, this would have been a different book.
The flow was not good. I don't even know what to say. Thank goodness for the chapter headings telling me where we were in Cookie's personal journey cause I would have been lost. Sometimes it is better to tell a story through chronologically. This one maybe would have worked better that way.
The locations of this book are Phoenix and New York and some other "exotic" locations. I didn't really get a sense of any of the cities. I would have liked the cities, especially Cookie's hometown and New York coming more alive via the narration.
This book reads as New Adult to me too by the way. And I usually cannot get into those types of books very well.
The end was....well it happened. I cannot begin to guess what is next for Cookie.
Le livre se lit plutôt bien, en dépit de certaines maladresses stylistiques, et j'ai bien aimé la géographie du monde développé ici (monde au sujet duquel il reste sans nul doute beaucoup à découvrir dans les volumes suivants). De plus, les pouvoirs des différentes familles — lecture d'objets, transmission de pensée, illusions, mémoire... — se prêtent bien à pas mal d'intrigues et de développements.
Par contre, j'enlève de bases des étoiles ici car je ne supporte plus cette ficelle scénaristique maladroite qui consiste à faire de la rétention d'information sans raison valable. Ophélie se retrouve balancée dans un monde d'intrigues de cour où elle risque d'être au mieux déshonorée, si pas juste assassinée dans une alcôve, et sa nouvelle belle-famille l'y prépare donc en faisant... rien? Et lui reproche en plus de commettre des erreurs par ignorance. Ah si, elle reçoit des lecons de maintien et de diction. Super. Des leçons de diplomatie et de survie en milieu courtisan hostile auraient été plus utiles, ne serait-ce que pour la prévenir que "au fait, une de nos familles peut partager ses pensées, donc ce que tu dis à l'un d'eux, tous les autres le savent aussi". M'enfin moi je dis ça, je dis rien.
Résultat: l'intrigue se traîne, car en plus d'être enfermée la moitié du temps, Ophélie doit jouer le rôle d'une muette l'autre moitié (pratique pour poser des questions, tiens). Déjà pas bien bavarde à la base, pour le coup elle n'a vraiment plus grand chose d'intéressant, et subit les événements plutôt que de vraiment les déclencher pendant la majeure partie de l'histoire. Ses pouvoirs ne sont de plus pas vraiment bien exploités, à part quelques passages de miroirs.
Alors certes, cela permet de mettre en scène des actions et pas un énorme info-dump. MAIS. Mais. Il n'y a AUCUNE raison valable au silence de Thorn et de Bérénilde, silence qui met Ophélie encore plus en danger puisqu'elle reste ignorante des vraies menaces, et ne peut donc pas s'y préparer. (Ajoutons à cela le fait qu'Ophélie ne fait aucun effort pour essayer de connaître les gens et notamment son futur mqri, ce qui n'aide pas.) Ce roman n'est de loin pas le seul à avoir recours a cet artifice, cependant il serait grand temps que la fiction de facon générale s'en éloigne. En d'autres termes: c'est bien d'éviter d'avoir trop de scenes d'exposition, ce serait mieux que le moyen employé pour cela repose sur quelque chose de logique, au lieu de révéler un trou scénaristique.
L'autre gros problème pour moi a été la société, ou plutot les sociétes décrites:
- Anima: une matriarchie qui traite en fait ses femmes comme de la crotte. Aucun intérêt. En vrac: mariages arrangés, sois belle et tais-toi (ou bien tais-toi juste, en fait...), femmes "fortes" et "dominant leur mari" comme la mère d'Ophelie mais qui ne sont en fait que des caricatures dont le seul pouvoir se résumé a être épouses et mères... Si c'est pour véhiculer les mêmes clichés moisis qu'une société patriarcale, restons dans une société patriarcale, dans ce cas, ce sera un petit peu moins écoeurant.
- Le Pôle: toutes des salopes-courtisanes-intriguantes-séductrices. Sauf Ophélie, bien sûr, puisqu'elle est le seul personnage féminin qui ne s'intéresse pas au sexe, à l'amour, à la mode, et aux autres artifices "purement féminins". Déjà vu, déjà trop vu, on pourrait avoir autre chose que la trilogie vierge-mère-pute? Merci.
Ceci dit, au moins il n'y a pas de romance/triangle amoureux (pour le moment), ce qui est déjà plus que je n'ose en demander à un roman jeunesse ces dernières années.