I started reading this book not really knowing what to expect. I knew it had been a YA phenomenon a couple of years back, but I am skeptical about YA literature in general (it’s so… transient and unsubstantial at times) so this didn’t really mean anything to me. So when I started reading and found the tone and voice much more adult-ish than I expected, I was pleasantly surprised.
The book is very good, all through the beginning and middle. The only part of the book that I feel falls apart is the ending scence with the villainess of the story. I won’t comment about it (no spoilers on my part), but the scene felt unnatural and confusing, I couldn’t understand the dynamics or the requests, and it all felt like a cop-out. The mystery of the Queen’s parentage also felt contrived, it just felt like the author didn’t know who her father was, like everybody else.
After finishing the book, which I loved despite the ending and these snags, I went ahead and did myself the disfavor of reading spoilers about the next two books. And that is when I decided I would not be continuing the series.
You see, I loved this first book in the trilogy. I loved that at the beginning of each chapter in the book there were small snippets taken from the future of that world that spoke of the Queen (the main character in the novel) and her historical impact on their world. It all felt very complete to me. I liked the characters, they were fleshed out, and I liked the political intrigue and the challenges that this new royal had to face when she assumed the crown, and the way in which she faced them.
So when I read that the author had completely killed this story in her next two books and went for total world-suicide, a la narnia style, I felt dissappointed. I won’t go into the details of what I mean, just that I am aware that the magic takes on a much more central role in the story and that the politics sort of fade into the background, and that at the end of it all the history snippets at the beginning of each chapter of the first book that I loved are worth nothing because the author completely changed the future of her world.
Like a cheat.
So no, I won’t be completing the series. Frankly, this first book can stand alone, and I for one would prefer it to stand alone, and that’s how it will stay in my mind. I have the sinking suspicion that the author wrote the second and third book much too quickly, which resulted in these story flaws that prevent this particular story from being great, and just being confusing and crazy as a whole. She could have taken it in another direction altogether and ended in a more satisfying, organic and complete manner.
Thankfully, this first book is neither confusing nor crazy in its premises, and the magic is neatly mysterious and doesn’t take over the entire storyline (as I read it did in the next two books). So yes, I thoroughly recommend The Queen of the Tearling to fantasy fans. If you want to give the whole trilogy a go, be my guest. I for one, decided to bow out as a reader… I don’t want to be dissappointed and I want to let this book stand alone. I would not even consider it a YA fantasy, but would place this book well into the adult category.