Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Preaching. In Books.

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

This book is like one of those Roman plays, all so magically wonderful, but for that fatal flow. And in this case, two fatal flaws. But first, the magically wonderful parts. I idea behind this book is really good - Elisa, one of the few Chosen, and the only Chosen in her time, is the lesser-known princess, unremarkable in every way. And then, she gets married off to a king, a king who needs her, needs this unremarkable girl who can do absolutely nothing. And so the story is about how Elisa turns out to be the very thing the world needed, helps save the world, learns to do kick-ass fighting, yada yada yada. The writing was just beautiful, descriptive, the ideas flowing smoothly. Utterly beautiful, charmingly exquisite writing (see how I did that Stephanie Meyer dictionary throw up thing there?). And so, book aside, Rae Carson, congratulations. You're a good writer.

But the two fatal flaws, which come to mind every. single. time. I look at that cover. The smaller of two flaws:
A fat protagonist with a good protagonist is better than a fat one with a good personality. Eliza starts off fat - really fat. She's the princess nobody really notices, so she stuffs her face every chance she gets. But then, right before the action starts, she's kidnapped, halfway starved, and ends up at about 1/4 of her original size. Not. Nice. I loved the fact that we were finally getting an imperfect, not so beautiful main character for once. She doesn't need to be thin to be nice, or beautiful, or lovable. But apparently, she does. 
And the larger of the two flaws:
This book is religious and preach-y. There is a fine line between a book being fictional, and a book outright sounding like a preacher's sermon. Obviously, it's a made up religion, and so it's not that it's offending, and I can totally see where the author is coming from, and how religious beliefs were supposed to play a big role in the actual plot, so maybe it's just my fault. But I felt the characters where too zealously to even be believable.  And then there are just these we-must-not-forget-how-amazing-our-beliefs-are paragraphs, that are nicely-worded mounds of poop. And the religion is fictional, so it's not any real-life ideas making there way in. Needless to say, that destroyed the book for me.

So: to read or not to read. That truly is the question. I personally wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't recommend a number of good books either, so take my advice with a grain of salt. And if you do end up reading, do enjoy the prose. It's as beautiful as Lauren Oliver's stuff.