Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: Stray by Elissa Sussman

Title: Stray
Author: Elissa Sussman
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Source: Greenwillow via Edelweiss

I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

Review by Nara

To be quite frank, normally I wouldn't have picked this book up, because it's got such a generic and stock-photo-ish looking cover. So I put off getting the book for quite some time until I heard one crucial fact: this book featured fairy godmothers. I mean, come on! How many books have you read about fairy godmothers? As soon as I heard that, I seriously had to get myself a copy.

Okay, so starting off with some of the more mediocre aspects of the book: I'm not going to lie, the romance was pretty bad. It was very underdeveloped, and I feel like pretty much the only thing connecting the main character and the love interest for the majority of the book were their looks. Even now, I'm not completely sure I understand why the two "love" each other. I do hope that this is better developed in later books, because I feel like the series could be quite fantastic without these sorts of little things chipping away at my overall enjoyment.

Main character Aislynn was a pretty generic high fantasy protagonist. She's initially naive and annoying, and then later, after finding out certain truths about the society she lives in, becomes more badass and willing to fight for freedom and those sorts of things. I suppose being generic wasn't necessarily a bad thing, since there was more focus on the world and rules of the society and such, and I'm sure further character development will occur in later books anyway.

The writing was actually one of the best things about the book. The style of the writing really added to the atmosphere of a fairy tale like kingdom, and the pacing was done pretty well. I think in general, Stray was really just a book to set up the rest of the series. It's relatively slow (although there are pockets of action here and there to keep the pace going) and a lot of the book was dedicated to world building and character development. I'm definitely going to be continuing with the series, and I'm looking forward to where the author will take the story.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 2/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 3/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Cover: 2/5