DNF Review of The Novice by Taran Matharu

TheNoviceThe Novice
By: Taran Matharu
Release Date: May 5th 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

Made it to page 148

When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.

My Thoughts:
First, I absolutely love the cover of The Novice. That was what drew me in and I’ll admit I requested it based on that alone. I figured it leaned towards fantasy and so had really high hopes. I also hadn’t noticed the little lizard on the guy’s shoulder until I was about 20% into the book!

I enjoyed some aspects of what I read. The beginning started fairly strong (if not a tad slow paced) and I thought it would be a great read for me. I didn’t love any of the characters but I saw potential. Once Fletcher made it to the Academy things sort of started to fall apart for me. It felt typical of other middle grade fantasy I’d read but I enjoyed the addition of the demons the students had as their battle partner/pet. I’ve not done much with Pokémon but it did bring it to mind.

I think I would have been okay with the story pulling from some typical fantasy tropes if the writing would have gripped me a bit more. I felt that a lot of the story and dialog was just telling me and not showing me. I had very little emotional connection to the story progression.

I’m not opposed to picking this one back up at a later date because it did have elements that I enjoyed.

Have you read The Novice? And had you noticed the little critter on his shoulder?


  1. says

    I think I have only DNF’d one book in my entire life. I would have DNF’d many more if I didn’t feel so guilty for not finishing a book. Every book has a story to tell, so I want to hear it out. I always feel like the next chapter may be the the chapter that changes my opinion.

    • says

      I hear you. I used to feel guilty but if I’m not enjoying something I don’t have the time to use reading it. I won’t rate though since I didn’t read the book in its entirety.

  2. says

    Awwww, sad you didn’t like this one 🙁 I totally didn’t notice the lizard on his shoulder! Need to check this one out though and see for myself 😛 Great review!

  3. says

    Love this DNF review Kristen. <3 And I'm oh so happy that you decided to give up on it, lol 😀 I had to read it to the end. Hmph. How mean. I did not like it much at all 🙁 But.. I gave it two stars? WHAT? Huh. I'm confused with myself, lol. I hated it. It was too much like His Dark Materials. Which you haven't read yet.. sob. You must read them soon 😀 They are so much better. <3 Anyway. This book was awful. And I can't help but be happy that you thought so too, hih 🙂 But yeah. I'm sad it was so bad. Sigh. Since it looks so pretty.. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it sweetie. <3

  4. says

    Yeah, the majority of reviews I’ve seen for this one have said the same thing Kristen: that it just didn’t really add anything new to the fantasy genre and that it was kind of filled with a lot of tropes from the genre. It’s a shame, because it sounds like the beginning sounds like it was hooking. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥

    • says

      I’d be ok with it not adding anything new to the genre if I was loving the characters or world. But it felt pretty hollow for me.

  5. says

    I DNFed this one at 36%. I always feel guilty when I get an ARC and don’t like it, but I gave it my best try and it still didn’t flow like I wanted it to. Eh.
    I felt it was too derivative – I couldn’t get past the similarities to Harry Potter and as you said, there was too much showing, not enough action.

    • says

      Yep, me to. I felt like DNFing earlier but kept with it hoping I’d gain that connection I was lacking. I’m sad that we both DNFed but hopefully we both go on to something that works better!

  6. says

    Very honest and respectful DNF review Kristen!
    I wasn’t particularly drawn to this book and I feel that after the reviews I’ve read about it, I’m gonna be skipping it for sure…
    I had not noticed the critter in his shoulder at all! Is it a lizard? a dragon??

    • says

      Thanks Pili! I always feel bad saying what I didn’t enjoy about a book since I respect that the author put their heart and soul out there. It can’t work for everyone though. I love the little critter. It’s a demon and I can’t believe we all missed it there! haha

  7. says

    Eeeek. Glad I skipped this one. A few months ago when this one hit NetGalley and ARCs were passed around by Macmillan, I ALMOST felt bad for not requesting one or downloading one from NetGalley… this is terrible to say but I’m glad I made that decision. LOL. So sorry you couldn’t finish/enjoy this one, Kristen!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  8. says

    Ah darn, the cover is so pretty though! I too was drawn to this book because of the cover but then I read the synopsis and decided it wasn’t a book I was going to really enjoy. Turns out I may be right! Still it’s always disappointing not enjoying a book you had hoped to really like.
    I DNF books a lot because I always think life is too short to read a bad book, so if I’m not enjoying it, why continue reading it? However in saying that, I’m currently reading three books at once (which I never do) because I’m having trouble concentrating on one book. I think this is more to do with the stress in my life right now though and nothing to do with the books.


    • says

      I’ve been having a string of bad luck the last two weeks 🙁 It saddens me but I’m due a great book soon! I hope! I too really loved the cover of this. I didn’t even bother reading the summary…I probably should have.

  9. says

    I did not notice the lizard until ya just mentioned it. I was intriguied by the cover but had my doubts on requesting it, I am glad I didn’t, it does not sound like my kind of book. Middle grade is something I feel like passing on at the moment!

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