By: Traci Chee
Release Date: September 13th 2016
Format: Print ARC
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.
With a book called The Reader I was immediately sold on reading it (yep on the title alone) and luckily this book was an amazing read with multiple layers of story-telling. This is going to be a tough review to write because this book was not cut and dry. It had layers upon layers and really the best way to experience it would be to dive in.
Sefia was one determined main character. I loved her voice and her intense desire to find out why her father was killed. Her aunt was taken from her as well so she was a non stop machine working to get them back. Even with her goal she was still capable of learning, growing and showing immense compassion (more so as the story progressed). Really, she was such an incredible character and her growth throughout the book was beautifully executed.
Don’t go into this one expecting a quick or easy read. This was a book to take your time reading and really think about. You can thank those story-telling layers for that- we flip flop between Sefia’s story and what she’s reading in this mysterious book in her possession. This mysterious book introduced us to a band of pirates and oh, how I love their story. I think each of these characters was so well done and I couldn’t get enough of their story. I love the dynamic of the ship Chee created and the way she presented all their roles.
As for romance, this novel was not heavy with it but their was a couple I shipped and I can see them getting closer and closer as the series progresses. Really, there are a lot of characters and things going on with this book but I think that it was handled exceptionally well and readers that appreciate complex stories will love this one. I mean, it does have pirates, a very strong female lead, assassins and a very in depth world.
The writing itself was very beautiful and elegant. I loved Chee’s style and that there were little clues and extra bits sprinkled in the story. I only found a couple of them myself so I’d be curious to see where the others all are. Here’s what I found- View Spoiler »Check out the page numbers. If you notice there is a message there. Also, I can’t figure it out but there seems to be a clue in the random upper case letters at the chapter beginnings. I was told there is another on the map but I’ve not found it. « Hide Spoiler
Final Thoughts: The Reader is so hard to review because of how layered the storyline was. I loved the complexity of the world and the plethora of well developed and intriguing characters. I highly recommend this book to fantasy fans that don’t mind a slower paced novel with layers of story interwoven into a common story thread.