The Fate of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

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Publisher: Harper

Publication Date: November 29th, 2016

Page Count: 496 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket:

The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Tearling trilogy.

In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch. As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies—including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.

To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable—she gave herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy—and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign, imprisoned in Mortmesne.

Now, as the suspenseful endgame begins, the fate of Queen Kelsea—and the Tearling itself—will finally be revealed.

Note: If you have not read the other books in the Tearling trilogy, this review in an of itself will be a spoiler. However, I will not be posting any spoilers for the Fate of the Tearling, which is the final installment.

I initially saw these books all over bookstagram and was intrigued by their beautiful covers. After receiving the first two for Christmas, I placed them on my bookshelves and there they languished, until I found the audio versions on Hoopla. I’m always on the hunt for audio versions of books in my TBR, because there simply isn’t enough time in my life to sit and read the print version of all of them. Now that isn’t to say I do not want the print versions (wife if you are reading this, please do not stop buying me ALL THE BOOKS), it’s just that realistically, I cannot get to them all when I’d like to.

I mention this because the first installment, The Queen of the Tearling, is narrated by a lady named Katherine Kellgren. She made these characters come alive for me, giving each distinct personalities that were larger than life, and larger, certainly, than what my brain would have come up with left to its own devices. Very unfortunately for me, the second installment, The Invasion of the Tearling, was given a new narrator, who completely changed the tone and I was disappointed and underwhelmed. Because of this, I decided to read the third book so I could remember the characters that Kellgren helped bring to life. It was her voice I heard in my head while reading, and it was really wonderful. For anyone who has not started this trilogy, I seriously recommend listening to the first one, and reading the next two.

In the Tearling trilogy, Johansen has created a deliciously wonderful genre salad full of high fantasy, dystopian speculative fiction, sci-fi, and even, some paranormal details. It was wonderfully jarring to be reading about castles and horse drawn carriages one minute and the next be thrown into a futuristic house with self cleaning countertops. My brain could not make sense of it at first and it was really surprising and delightful.

In this final installment, all of the details from the first two books are woven in, and come together to create a powerful conclusion. Kelsea must face the Red Queen, whose identity we have finally learned.  Johansen goes into the history of the Town after the crossing and we are given a new narrator in Katie. We see the Mace grudgingly handling his new role. Simultaneously trying to rescue Kelsea while staying true to the vision she had for the Tearling. We find out who the Fetch is and the identity of the creature in the fire. We learn the origin stories of the sapphires and follow Kelsea through to the end of her journey of self discovery.

The choices Johansen made in this conclusion are so bold and creative. There is always so much pressure for the final book to get it right, and give the characters we’ve grown to know and love, a fitting conclusion. And while I do not agree with all of the choices she made, I can appreciate them, even while my heart was being ripped out and mended again. If I had it my way, there would have been at least five more chapters tacked on to the end.

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Final Thoughts: I love this series more than I can express with words, and certainly much more than I thought I would going into it. So many times while reading, I hugged the book to my chest and thought, THIS IS SO GOOD! Johansen is a bold and brave writer and these have made me a forever fan. She has written characters that I love deeply and I have no doubt I will come back to these again and again.

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Favorite Characters: The Mace, Kelsea, Aisa

Memorable Quotes:

As always, the story was the compelling thing, worth all of its suffering to find out the ending.

Hell? Hell is a fairy tale for the gullible, for what punishment could be worse than that we inflict upon ourselves? We burn so badly in this life that there can be nothing left.

Entire countries would close their borders and build walls to keep out phantom threats. Can you imagine?

Empathy. Carlin always said it was the great value of fiction, to put us inside the minds of strangers.

July Wrap-Up

July was a big month for reading for me, and I finished 11 books in total. I checked off several books that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while, as well as discovered some brand new ones that had not been on my TBR.  Despite this, I still have an ever growing stack on my nightstand that I fear I will never see the bottom of. It really is true that the more you read, the more you realize you haven’t read.

Some of my favorites this month were….

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As Ginny Moon would say, “well dang!” I loved this book SO. MUCH! This one is told from the perspective of Ginny, an autistic 14 year old growing up in the foster care system. She’s brave, stubborn, funny, smart, and fiercely loyal. I’m recommending this one to everyone I see.

 

 

 

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I was expecting this to be another run of the mill YA romance. Not to say that there is anything wrong with those, because if you look at my reading list, I clearly LOVE THEM. But I was pleasantly surprised to find some very creative ideas presented that really set it apart. I listened on audio, and the two narrators they cast do a lovely job. This is sweet and the ending had me wiping my eyes and blaming allergies.

 

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My Lady Jane was so much fun to read. It’s a very funny and creative retelling of history that frequently breaks the fourth wall. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion and found the romance to be very sweet. I’m excited to see what these ladies come up with next.

 

 

 

Honorable mention to Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places. This was such an exceptionally beautiful story, made even more touching by listening to the author’s note at the end of the book. I’m really glad I read this one.

Because I enjoyed The Sun is Also a Star so much, I fully expected to love Everything Everything. I was really underwhelmed by that one, which is a bummer because I was really excited to watch the movie. Also, What Light by Jay Asher got really good reviews, and was the only thing I could find available on Overdrive that I wanted to listen to. I went in with high hopes, as it takes place during Christmas on a Christmas tree farm. As an extreme Christmas lover, I figured this would be pretty hard to screw up. Unfortunately, while the story was sweet, I spent most of it bored out of my mind. A lot of the plot was unbelievable and the dialogue was pretty cheesy.

Also, I organized my shelves today and I think they look lovely sorted by color. It will be an absolute nightmare to find anything, but THEY’RE SO PRETTY.

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The whole line up…..

 

 

The Hate U Give – 5 crowns

This Savage Song – 4 crowns

Geekerella – 5 crowns

My Lady Jane – 4 crowns

The Sun is Also a Star – 5 crowns

All the Bright Places – 5 crowns

Ginny Moon – 5 crowns

The Girl Before – 2 crowns

Everything Everything – 3 crowns

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – 5 crowns

What Light – 3 crowns

The Girl Before – JP Delaney

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Publisher: Random House Audio

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

Listening Length: 9 hours and 59 minutes

From the Jacket:

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Unpopular opinion time. I absolutely loathed this book. I hate finished it just because I thought surely, at some point with all of the rave reviews I read, it would get better.

Spoiler alert: It did not get any better.

There were only two redeeming factors for me. The first, was listening to the audio version. Emilia Fox and Finty Williams do a lovely job narrating this terrible content. The second, was doing a buddy read with my wife. She had print and I had audio, and we must be soulmates because we equally abhorred it. I’m going to go into detail about my issues with this book below, so this post will be spoiler central. You’ve been warned.

I went into this book thinking that it would be a psychological thriller about a super intelligent house that interferes with the lives of the women who live there. Turns out its actually about a moderately smart house with outdated technology, the wealthy sociopath who designed it, and the women who (completely inexplicably) fall for him. This book was rated highly by multiple sources that I have a lot of respect for. It was compared with The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl. This book is like none of those books at all.

Let’s start with the way that every women in the book falls all over herself when they lay eyes on Edward. They all comment on how incredibly handsome he is. Really? I won’t get into all of the reasons why it is incredibly unrealistic that every single woman would be attracted to this guy, but I do feel like its worth noting. First impressions aside, he’s also completely weird, controlling, judgmental, and all around awful. Delaney describes the intense chemistry between Jane/Edward and Emma/Edward without providing any believable details. Saying someone has the best sex of their life is not the same as writing believable sex scenes.

I also almost lost my eyes to the back of my head due to the eye rolling that happened while I was reading the details of Jane’s pregnancies. It’s like Delaney went to a pregnancy forum, took all of the details there, and made them all into hyperbole. For someone who has never been pregnant or been close to someone that has been pregnant, this may not be an issue at all. For me, it was a constant source of annoyance that detracted even more from the plot. I read an interview with the author about his use of a pseudonym for this book. He talks about one of the reasons he liked it is because it makes the gender of the author ambiguous and he had a number of women tell him that they thought a woman wrote the book. NO. Just, no.

One of the worst things about this book, other than the cheesy dialogue and terrible sex scenes, are all of the smoking guns. Delany creates a whole table full of smoking guns, and then WALKS AWAY FROM THE TABLE. There’s a reason that everyone is so shocked that Simon is actually the murderer. It’s because it is completely outside of his character! That doesn’t make this a good story. It makes it an example of terrible writing.

And what about Edward and all of his crazy trying to recreate the relationship with Jane that he had with Emma? We never touch on that again, except in the very last paragraph where the reader is led to believe that more women would continue to move into this house and fall for this bag of cats. I wondered on more than one occasion while reading, if the author just hates women and/or just considers them all incredibly stupid.

Deep breaths.

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Final Thoughts: If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I basically NEVER write negative reviews. But in this case, I felt like I must. I truly do not understand the hype. If you want a good psychological thriller, read all of the other books this one is compared to, and skip this one. Who else has read this? Did you love it or hate it? I’d love to hear your thoughts here.

Rating: 2 crowns

Favorite Characters: None

Memorable Quotes: There were several memorably bad quotes, but I did not make note of them.