Thursday, September 22

Naomi Novik - Uprooted

“If you don't want a man dead, don't bludgeon him over the head repeatedly.” 

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I went into Uprooted with mixed feelings - retellings, if done right, have the potential to become my favorite novels ever - Cruel Beauty, The Lunar Chronicles, just to mention a few that deserve to be on my best of the best shelf. I believe, there’s something truly magical about our childhood favorites being retold in new and unexpected ways. Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite Disney movie, and so its retellings tend to be my favorite ones... as well as my most feared ones simply because - due to my huge expectations - they have the potential to disappoint me all the more.

While Uprooted's average rating currently stands on 4.15, the book received some pretty mixed reviews that made me question if this was for me. On a side note, that should teach me to read a novel if it strikes me as interesting, without checking out the reviews. However, I kind of had to pick it up, because I won the UK edition right after the publication, and I have this rule to at least try out every book I own in a physical copy. It also helped when my friend got herself a copy, too, and we decided next to buddy-reading the novel. If you're wondering, she adored the story, as well. 

As soon as I started Uprooted I was in love with everything - from the writing, through the story, to the characters. Upon finishing the novel, I was left with a huge-ass grin on my face, because this is what I call a fantastic retelling. Naomi Novik didn't keep much from Beauty and the Beast, just the very basics, but I didn't mind that, because instead she used elements that usually appear in fairy tales, such as the Wood, this huge-ass, creepy and mysterious forest.

Speaking of the Wood - finally a book that promises to be spooky, and delivers. Reading about the Wood and what happened to those who were corrupted gave me the chills, but also amazed me a lot, because Novik's descriptions were SO GOOD, as was the rest of the world-building.

The characters were all intriguing creatures, with Agnieszka taking the crown as my favorite, because she was seriously kickass. She wasn't about to wait for someone else to rescue her, instead she fought and fought, doing her best to succeed in every single dire situation she was put in. That said, she was no way 'perfect', just like none of us are. She wasn't above crying herself to sleep, or admitting that she was absolutely terrified of the Dragon at first.

“I don't want more sense!" I said loudly, beating against the silence of the room. "Not if sense means I'll stop loving anyone. What is there besides people that's worth holding on to?” 

The relationships that appeared in the book were also absolutely well-portrayed. I loved that Agnieszka had a great relationship with her parents, which seems to be a very rare thing in YA, in general, but especially in high-fantasy. The best thing ever, though, was Agnieszka's friendship with Kasia. Obviously, it wasn't picture perfect- in their situation, how could it have been? - but it stood strong through every single obstacle they encountered, and their love for each other remained pure, no matter the things they went through. Shout out to Novik for positive portrayal of female friendship.

“I'm glad," I said, with an effort, refusing to let my mouth close up with jealousy. It wasn't that I wanted a husband and a baby; I didn't, or rather, I only wanted them the way I wanted to live to a hundred someday, far off, never thinking about the particulars. But they meant life: she was living, and I wasn't.” 

I could talk about Uprooted for ages, but I really, really, REALLY want you all to find out for yourselves why this was one of the most gorgeous books I've ever read.
1000% recommended!

The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 5/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 5/5
Enjoy factor: 5/5



  1. Great review, Veronika! When I first read the synopsis of this one I was kind of... meh. Not overly thrilled with the way it sounded and gave it a pass. But I started reading some reviews from friends and it seems like everyone was raving about it! I like how you mentioned that the MC has a great relationship with her parents (that's as rare as a unicorn sighting!) and that there are also good friendships. Yay!

    1. Thanks, Tanya! :) I honestly wasn't really interested at first either - just after I realized this was a retelling. But I'm SO glad I ended up picking this one up, because it was truly unique. Yep, those were 2 of the best things in the novel. :)

  2. This is a great review! Uprooted was one of my favourite reads of last year, it's just fantastic. I loved the friendship aspect and the worldbuilding, too. I really want to read more of Novik's work but I'm worried about starting her Temeraire series because it's just SO LONG. I think I'll wait for whatever she comes up next...

    1. Thanks, Kaja! :) It's definitely one of my favorite reads of this year! I feel you - I'm dying to read more by Novik, but the Temeraire series isn't only long, but doesn't strike me as very interesting either. Whatever she publishes next, I'll be all over it, though. :)

  3. I absolutely loved this book as well and it was one that I gushed about for weeks and weeks and weeks. Thank goodness I've become a book blogger so I can give my poor friends a break from my fan-girling sometimes!

    This book pushed me to start Novik's Temeraire series although it is completely different work to Uprooted. I'm enjoying it a lot but I know it won't be for everyone.

    Great review!

    Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    1. Haha, SAME - I tried to make most of my friends read it... NO LUCK SO FAR. *sad face*
      I wish I was interested in her Temeraire series, but I'm not really and so it doesn't seem like such a good idea to start it, considering how long it is.
      Thanks! :)


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