Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Long Awaited!

I think you have to be a book-loving parent of a small child to truly understand how great it is to have a day off work when he  has school.  My husband and I sat there on the couch ALL DAY and just read.  I used to live like that all the time in  my wild and crazy youth.  It was indescribably comforting.

And I was reading a long-awaited read!  Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore, is a book I bought five minutes after it came out, and then sat on for most of the year, as I am wont to do.  Because I'm worried it won't live up to my expectations; because I'm impulsive and some other book jumped in front of me while I was busy anticipating this one; because the first chapter is about a teenaged royal sneaking out to the seamy side of town, which seemed kind of cliche.

This reaction ties back to a lot of feelings I have about princess stories, which err on one of two sides: All The Fun or All The Boring.  This read very much like an All The Boring story, meaning oh, poor me, I'm royal and it's so wearying to have everything I want, I need an AUTHENTIC experience.

This time, though, when I came back to read more, I found it.  Cashore's take on being queen is just what I want--the business of running a country as one of information, perception, trust, ideas and their execution.  I love the tension in who Bitterblue should trust, and I love that this changes over the course of the story.  I love that there are so many characters, and that Bitterblue has different relationships with all of them.  I love that I was really kept guessing about what would happen.

There is a but here, which is that I thought the book proceeded much more slowly than it should have.  I am a cautious person and not one to dive into action without looking at it from all sides, but Bitterblue knew from the beginning that things were a mess, that she didn't know what she needed to know, and that she wasn't making the forward motion she needed to.  There's really no explanation for why it takes her fully half of the book to even consider taking small actions.

I realize it's the story of her passage from child to queen.  I guess I was surprised by how passive she was as a child--rather than impulsive or having poor judgement--and I think it slowed the story down, not just in terms of plot, but in terms of her development.  I love that she has realizations throughout the book--early and late--of things she's taken for granted and things she doesn't know.  I guess I wish those realizations had built on each other with a little more intensity.

In the end, I did love it.  I especially loved getting more Katsa and Po--not just more face time, but more nuance, more about their relationship, and more of their own growth and changes.

This Long Awaited Reads thing is awesome.  Now I'm reading The Sleeping Partner, which is not only long-awaited but in paper, not electronic.  This is my most successful PLR ever!

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