Before I read this book, my friend told me she hated the main character, so I expected to have a strong reaction to this book. But I have to be fair that my overall impression was far more apathetic than that (which still isn’t great). Nothing about this book shone. Not the plot, or the characters, or even the descriptions (surprisingly, even the many, many descriptions of food were lacklustre). And while it was an enjoyable enough read, there were so many areas of frustration that I just wasn’t impressed with it.
Pretty much all my issues could be summed up in two words: the characters. Firstly, they all seemed underdeveloped. None of them are fleshed out or given any personality. And they only seem to exist in relation to the main character. For example, we only see Elisa’s husband in relation to how Elisa perceives him. I hate to parrot the whole “show don’t tell” mantra, but I’m afraid this is the perfect time for it. We are not given enough of a view of the king’s actions to know why he does certain things. We are simply told of Elisa’s changing perceptions to him, which makes it very difficult to view him as a seamlessly thought out character.
Above all, however, the main character is poorly drawn. Initially I was incensed by the way the main character ran for the kitchen every time something happened. (She gets married- solution: pastries time! She finds out about some important prophecy: scones time! She’s been kidnapped: soup time!) Now even though, I consider myself a bit of a foodie, I just didn’t find this very relatable. Partly because it felt like odd timing (I mean, it’s not exactly most people’s first thought in a crisis). But mostly because it felt like her obsession with food and her insecurities about that obsession was the only depth this character had- which was disappointing. (I mean I love food-obsessed characters like Celaena Sardothien, but there’s a lot more to her than just her food-obsession). And this made the character far less relatable than the author intended.
When I racked my brain for another example of other sides of her personality, I could only come up with the fact that we are *told* she is a brilliant strategist. But again, we are not given any evidence of that. I read a great review on goodreads where they said “Elisa’s hair-brained schemes work because the author wants them to.” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/346181967?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1). Which was aptly put. I did not feel convinced of Elisa’s supposedly ingenious mind.
Her food obsession felt even more ridiculous after she has been kidnapped and her main concern is how much weight she’d lost. I wanted to scream: “YOU HAVE JUST BEEN KIDNAPPED- STOP ADMIRING YOUR SLIMMER WAISTLINE!!!” Seriously- was that the time to be worrying about that? Also, going back to how smart the main character was supposed to be, are we really supposed to believe that she’s clever when she can’t figure out that eating less and moving more makes you lose weight? Seriously?
And speaking of the abduction, this is where the plot really fell down. Firstly, at this point, the book felt more like an advert for weightwatchers than a young adult fantasy. I mean, where was the magic? Where was the adventure? Where was the excitement? It was excessively dull and uninteresting. Secondly, this is where plot holes began to suck away all enjoyment. Because when Elisa is kidnapped, she doesn’t seem fazed at all. She also develops an affinity for her kidnappers pretty much instantaneously, is desperate to prove herself to them and doesn’t seem remotely bothered by how they’ve treated her (aka threatened to kill her). Surely she would be a bit less obedient? Surely it would take a while for her to warm to them after they frickin’ abducted her? It made no sense! Seriously, am I meant to believe that anyone can have such a lame response to being forcibly drugged and taken from their home? Am I supposed to believe she’s not placid and stupid after that?
And in relation to this- why does she develop such an affinity for Humbert/Humphrey/whatever-her-love-interest’s-name-was? There seems to be no development in this relationship and yet we’re just expected to accept that she’s in love with him. I just didn’t buy it. Nor did I care when said character died. I couldn’t even figure out why the author did that. It seemed so random (like most of the rest of the plot).
Beyond this, I don’t think anything interesting happened. Characters died; people betrayed people; evil villains from evil-villain-land were ominous and threatening. That’s about all there is left to say. So yeah, I was pretty unimpressed with this book and I won’t be continuing on with this series. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Rating: 2/5 bananas