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CW’s: Verbal/Physical Abuse, Attempted Rape
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
DNF @ 50%
Well let’s just say that this wasn’t what I expected. At all. I was seriously excited for Uprooted, because I’ve heard so many amazing things and really wanted to get into a rare New Adult Fantasy, but this obviously didn’t work out. I’m not with the majority of the people who liked the book (the average Goodreads rating is around 4.1) and I honestly have to say that this time it isn’t a case of ‘it’s not the book, it’s me’. Sorry guys, but for me it was definitely the book that was at fault, which of course doesn’t mean that you cannot like it. The fact alone that I had to DNF this says enough, because I don’t like doing that and therefore rarely do it. A book has to be beyond horrible for me to consider to not finish it but I couldn’t get through Uprooted. I couldn’t. My time is too precious to spend on a book that I knew I didn’t like (I did read half of the book after all). So here we are. I didn’t think the first 1 star rating of the year would come so fast, but let’s get into the problems I had with the book.
My reaction to the book
All of The Things I didn’t like
📖 The Dragon was a very horrible, toxic person. First of all HE WASN’T EVEN A REAL DRAGON, excuse me if I sigh with disappointment, because it would have been amazing if he had been an actual shapeshifter. However, I got quickly over the dragon part, even if I still think it was wasted potential. All in all, I hated The Dragon with a fiery passion, because he was absolutely messy, toxic and constantly horrible. I don’t know even where to start, but he was treating Agnieszka like a fool all the time. There was literally no character development when it came to him, he just stayed the same which made for him a rather flat character. Before I go into all the horrible things he did, I also want to mention that he wasn’t even a compelling antagonist, morally grey anti-hero or anyone that I could have rooted for. I cannot root for a character that doesn’t have any redeemable qualities AND doesn’t have much depth. Not at all. Let’s talk about why I found him irritable and toxic:
- If I’m making lists it’s really bad
- He was constantly angry and annoyed with Agnieszka without any reason, like I don’t know what his problem was, he was angrier than I am on my worst days. It made me roll my eyes at him. The Dragon just hated everyone who dared to breathe in his presence. That in turn annoyed me.
- The Dragon verbally abuses Agnieszka the entire book, calling her ‘stupid, useless, filthy, an idiot etc.’ I cannot even recount all the names he called her, that’s how bad it was. This frustrated me, because sorry but I don’t want to read about the main character being put down like that for 400 pages. Furthmore, this didn’t seem to change, at least from what I have read in other Reviews.
- He also physically abuses her, using her for his magic until she is so tired she can hardly stand, dragging her everywhere like a rag doll and basically just doing with her what he wants.
- The Dragon mocks Agnieszka for how she looks, because he doesn’t like that she isn’t ‘clean’ and orderly. He literally punishes her for not looking how he wants, by forcing her to use a spell to clean herself. Absolutely disgusting and creepy.
- There is an attempted rape of Agnieszka and the Dragon completely misses the point and doesn’t even care that she was just sexually assaulted. Instead, he screams at her for defending herself, calls her a murderer and dares to call her harasser a ‘lover’. By that line I was ready to fling the book against the wall (which I didn’t do because it was a library book)
📖 I didn’t like the ‘romance’. I mean obviously, since I just said in detail what bothered me about the Dragon and I cannot support a relationship that isn’t built on respect. He treated Agnieszka like she was beneath him and therefore, I don’t consider this to be a healthy relationship at all. I also didn’t see how she could like him, as he treated her so badly and never with an ounce of respect or caring. It just felt very much a romance that happened without any logical reason and I’m glad I didn’t have to see it through until the end. I do feel like this romance also sends the message that it’s okay to get together with someone who treats you like the Dragon treats Agnieszka. No. This is not right and it bothers me that it’s portrayed this way. If someone verbally abuses you and shows you no respect, drop them and get away from them.
📖 All characters felt pretty flat and like tropes. I did feel sorry for Agnieszka (whose name is amazing, but hard to spell for me), because she was treated so badly and honestly, she was among the more complex characters. But I didn’t find her to be very compelling either. The secondary characters were even worse and I felt like they were more like tropes as they didn’t have any depth. Her best friend Kasia is the best example of this, because she was literally reduced to the trope of the saint best friend, who is perfect and lovely all the time. I have no idea why she had no other personality traits.
📖 The magic system was really weak. We have already established that I didn’t find any of the characters to be great or compelling, but the world building didn’t help, specifically the magic system. I felt like there were so many unanswered questions about it, that I have read are not really explored in the second half of the book that I didn’t read. Like where does magic come from, how exactly does it work, why does Agnieszka have it? Inconsistent and superficial is what the magic in this book was and that saddened me because I love magic so much. The magic spells aren’t better, as they sound strange like someone randomly assembled letters to make it look cool. Overall, I felt like there was no backbone and substance to the magic system.
📖 The writing style and pacing felt tedious to me. This one might be just me, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, as it felt more telling than showing to me. Often I felt my eyes glaze over the page, because I wasn’t engaged, just to force myself to read more closely again. I was losing interest pretty fast, the characters certainly didn’t help with that but neither did the pacing. It felt very much ‘meh’ to me.
IN CONCLUSION: Uprooted was a complete miss for me and totally not what I had expected after hearing such high praise. Disappointments were around every corner from the toxic, irritating love interest to a weak magic system and cardboard cutout characters. I’m an unpopular opinion right here, but Uprooted didn’t do it for me, because too many flaws kept bothering me.
Have you read Uprooted? Feel free to recommend me some NA fantasy! 📖
3 thoughts on “Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik”
I thought about reading this for my moody reading challenge but now I’m sooooo glad I didn’t! I think I may take this off my TBR too because NO dragon should act like this! It’s too much… and what romance I say!? ♥️ Great review Caro, so sorry it was such a disappointing mess!
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I was really prepared to like this but the dragon … is so horrible. It’s really disappointing, because he could have been a great morally grey character, but instead was just a jerk Thank you! 🙂