The Queen of Tearling
I have to admit that I enjoyed this book, but opinions voiced by readers run the full gamut. Loved it! Hated it! The reviews on Goodreads are more outspoken than those on Amazon, but both sites have the same dichotomy.
On the positive side: I mostly liked the characters and found it an engaging read with plenty of excitement. These are pretty important positives for me.
On the negative side: The world building was insufficient--all kinds of vague hints about the history, but they remain vague; there are parts of the book that feel didactic, a bit preachy, and a little politically inclined; the unanswered questions are tedious: "I'm not gonna' tell you what you need to know about how to save your life, how to save the kingdom, who your father is, etc. I promised I wouldn't tell"; the "historic" connections to real places like America and Europe--especially as they are left vague--I would have preferred a new fantasy world or at least one with a more developed past; and the Red Queen is...over the top in all kinds of unpleasant ways.
Some elements place the book in the YA fantasy category, but other elements are a bit raw for YA. Don't look at the comparisons to others in the fantasy genre--especially the Game of Thrones series. It isn't The Hunger Games, either. Johansen is a debut author who can tell a story, but still has time to learn a lot about the best ways to do so.
Although I had a some problems with this book, I found it engaged my interest and, I sped through it. I nitpicked (frequently) along the way, but that doesn't mean I won't be eager to see if the next book in the trilogy eliminates some of the problems that occur in this one.
Emma Watson is set to play Kelsea in the film version; some books make better movies than books and that may be the case with The Queen of Tearling.
Fantasy. 2014. 448 pages.