The ReRead Campaign Tour Stop
Welcome to Day One of The ReRead Campaign! I'm so excited to kick things off by sharing my review The Reader by Traci Chee. It's a fantasy epic that reads like Young Adult, but wrapped in glorious details in an imaginative world. Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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 discover what really happened the day her father was killed--and punish the people responsible.
First off, The Reader is an interactive novel. It’s a book about a book, and you are a reader reading about a reader. The book is put together in a way that the reader is meant to look for clues between the pages. The pages are textured along the edges, there are sections dotted by fingerprints, watermarks, and smudges, and the page numbers themselves are trying to convey a message! I've given you a head start with the images below- make sure you take a look in the footer of Page 5. I found myself eagerly breezing through the pages in order to find the other easter eggs. Soon enough, I became as invested in the story within The Reader as I was with the messages that the book itself was trying to tell me.
In a world where reading is a form of magic and books are outlawed, Sefia must tap into her potential as an "Illuminator," essentially magicians who can use words to manipulate, to uncover the secrets of the book. The Reader is a cleverly woven story about a story. As we read about Sefia, Sefia is at the same time reading about the exploits of various pirates. These parts are entertaining respites from Sefia constantly being in danger! They also help provide more context about the world.
The interactivity of the book is neat trick because, to be honest, the book was a bit slow to get into at first. The entire first half of the book sets up various pieces of the story, but you don't get a real sense of how everything comes together until perhaps midway through. That's a pretty long way to go for those who would rather get to the action and conflict rather than have to sift through pages detailed descriptions and prose. As I mentioned earlier though, looking for those little messages along the margins is a pretty compelling way to get you to keep reading though!
Now, let's talk about Sefia, our heroine, so to speak. Without giving too much away, our protagonist is a truly spunky young woman that I found myself rooting for. She's a fast learner and takes great pride in her book. It's her last connection to her dead parents. As she learns to navigate her powers and the power inside her book, we're right beside her. Sefia trying to read is a humbling journey. Can you remember your first book? I definitely can't, and reading seems like second nature to me at this point. That just reminds me of how privileged I am to have English as my first language.
Aside from Sefia, we are introduced to other interesting characters: an extremely capable fighter, a beautiful but somewhat useless officer, assassins and pirates galore, and the occasional cannibal. As you can see, The Reader is a multi-layered adventure with plenty of dynamic characters, settings, and storytelling formats. At a whopping 442 pages, however, it's a lot to get through. For some, The Reader might be too slow-paced. For others, it will be the ideal blend of sophisticated fantasy with surprises around every corner.
I personally enjoyed savoring The Reader, as it was different from any YA fantasy novel I've read in a very long time. The emphasis it placed on the magic of reading was a visceral parallel to how I much admire some of my favorite novels and writers. The diversity of characters that Chee introduces could be crazy and overwhelming, but somehow it all works together in this world!
The Reader is only the first book in the Sea of Ink and Gold series. The second, The Speaker, comes out on November 7, 2017- less than a month away!
I rate The Reader 4/5 stars!
Traci Chee is the New York Times bestselling author of The Reader. An All-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts. She studied literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog.
Don't forget to check out the rest of The ReRead Campaign tour stops!
October 16 – Bette’s Pages – Review with photos
October 17 – AEROU – Review
October 18 – YA Wednesdays – Moodboard
October 19 – Boricuan Bookworms - Review
October 20 – The Blonde Bookworm – Review
October 21 – Across the Words – Playlist
October 22 – Eastern Sunset Reads – Creative
October 23 – FlyLeaf Chronicles – Review
October 24 – ButtermyBooks – Review
October 25 – Ex Libris – Review
October 26 – Good Choice Reading – Promo Post
October 27 – Love Is Not a Triangle – Review
October 28 – A Page with a View – 5 favorite things about that world
October 29 – Dazzled by Books – Review with Bookish Candle