Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

12 Years A Slave – Solomon Northup Review

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12 Years A Slave (the memoir on which the movie you might have heard of is based) is a memoir written in 1853. I haven’t watched the film, but I was intrigued by the book when I stumbled upon it because I haven’t read many accounts or even novels about slavery. The book tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a freeman in New York who, in 1841, is kidnapped and sold into slavery, where he remains for 12 years until freed in 1853.

12-years-a-slave-book-coverAlthough the events that Northup experienced are far from boring to read, and the book is an incredibly detailed insight into the life of a slave in the 19th century, I found the book incredibly slow at time. I wish that Northup had told us more of the people he was with during his twelve years, perhaps instead of dedicating entire pages to tell us about farming methods. I think that the various people under whom Northup worked, such as William Ford, Tibeats and Epps, were described well and I understood what sort of people they work, but for having spent ten years in the company of slaves like Patsey, I wish he had written about them more as actual people than just like shadows in the background of Northup’s story, which is what they felt like to me when reading.

I also wish that there was more of Solomon Northup’s actual thoughts in the book, but it felt as if I was reading a factual step-by-step account of his life instead of hearing it from him. It felt odd that this was a first-hand account and yet throughout most of the book, Northup makes no mention of the family he left behind, if he missed them or not, and even when he finished telling the story, he refused to give an opinion on the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery; I found it unsettling that after having been through everything he told, he could not give an opinion on it. There were very few times when an event was described not purely as a factual account and we got a sense of Northup’s actual feelings towards it, such as telling of Patsey’s treatment, and those were definitely the most striking parts of the book.

I found this book truly difficult to read as it was incredibly slow and felt too detached from the incidents themselves, however it was a fantastic insight into the life of slaves.

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Book Reviews, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult

Review – ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ – Sarah J. Maas

 

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Taken from: @inkdropsbooks (Instagram)

Rating:  ★ ★ ★

This was one of the first YA fantasy books that I read in ages – probably since Harry Potter. It was mainly the fact that the bookstagram community, which I joined a while ago, loves Sarah J Maas. While I don’t think this book is perfect, I did enjoy it and I will definitely be reading more YA in the future.

The only thing I knew before setting off with ACOTAR was that it is a rough retelling of Beauty and the Beast. ACOTAR’s main character is Feyre. One night while hunting for food to support her impoverished family, she kills a wolf. In fact, this wolf is a faerie from the neighbouring faerie kingdom, and another faerie comes to demand retribution. To repay the life that she has taken, Feyre must spend the remainder of her life in the faerie kingdom Pythian. Once she arrives, she learns that the faeries are not all they seem, and that there is a plague that is threatening not only the faeries but the human realm too.

First of all, I love a good fantasy setting, and Prythian founds truly magical. From the moment I opened the book and saw all of the different locations (The Summer Court, The Winter Court, The Spring Court, The Autumn Court, The Day Court, The Night Court, and The Dawn Court), I was so excited to learn about all of these different places. I really liked seeing the various magical creatures that were introduced, and towards the second half of the book, we saw many more faeries and learned some more about the politics of the kingdom which I liked. However, I do wish we had seen more of the kingdom because I felt like it wasn’t fleshed out too well. I didn’t even know that Tamlin’s court was The Spring Court until about halfway through the book! Hopefully, both the kingdom of Prythian and the characters are explored and developed further in the following books in the series, and we can learn even more about this world.

16096824Now, how do I feel about Feyre? When I started the book, I was so excited to read about this young girl who has supported her family almost single-handedly for so long. She was brave and strong, but Sarah J Maas really helps you get into Feyre’s head so that you understand her emotions and that she isn’t a cookie cutter ‘strong female character’ type of girl. However, Feyre was just a little too reckless for my liking. Personally, I couldn’t understand the thought process behind some of her decisions, which were in my opinion way too risky to understand, and for me to keep thinking of her as smart. I also got frustrated with her hot-and-cold mood swings. I couldn’t figure out whether she missed her family, whether she was happy to be in the Spring Court, or any of her feelings towards anything, because while she would say X at one point, her actions wouldn’t show it, or she would change her opinion within a few pages. Thankfully, in the second part of the book, Sarah J Maas takes Feyre to the next level and really puts her under some intense pressure and we get to see her being more focused and determined.

Now, personally, I am not a huge fan of romance books. I love a good romance, and I ship just as much as the next person, but I like my love stories to be a subplot. I think this is just because I get fed up of seeing complex characters be reduced to their relationship with someone else. For this reason, I got a bit bored with ACOTAR in the middle section. There is a love story to this book, and while that’s fine, I got really bored of reading about the characters getting sappy and falling in love. It just took up too large a portion of the novel, and with Feyre’s mood swings (as mentioned above) I had a hard time feeling any genuine emotion from her at times, making the romance feel forced. I would have preferred for this section to be shorter, and to have gotten to the more action-packed part of the story sooner – because that was GREAT!

So, I give ACOTAR 3/5 stars. I wish that I could have loved this book more, but I just didn’t. I wish that the plot had moved quicker, and that there had been more world building and characterisation instead of long drawn out scenes depicting the romance. However, I am hopeful that my concerns will be rectified in the second novel, so keep a look out for that!