Sep 13th

Review of The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold #1) by Tracie Chee

Posted in Reviews
The Reader Sea of Ink and Gold
5 Star Rating

Title: The Reader
Author: Tracie Chee
Publisher: Putnam
Date Published: September 13, 2016
Where I got the book: eARC from the Penguin First to Read program (this in no way affects my review)
Purchase your copy at: AMAZON | FlyLeaf Books (Indie) | Quail Ridge Books (Indie)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

This is one of my favorite debut books of 2016. I was absolutely floored by Tracie Chee’s talent. The premise is so fascinating and original, especially for book lovers and avid readers. Can you imagine a place where books are power and very few people have access to them, let alone know how to read or what a book is? It sounds like the beginning of a bibliophile’s horror story! There are so many stories already out in the world, it is amazing to find a story this unique. To also find such talented, gorgeous writing in a debut novel makes The Reader a rare gem in the world of YA fantasy.

I absolutely loved Tracie Chee’s writing style. It was eloquent and lovely, without being overstated or flowery. There are so many quotable things in this book! It helped set the mood for the story and its diverse cast. The world-building was also excellent. I think it takes a rare talent to build a wholly unique world never before seen in literature to date. She adds so many layers to the story. We begin with Sefia and her journey to save Nin while protecting the book her parents left her, but slowly more characters and elements are added. First she adds in the people who are after Sefia and their point of view and magic. Then she adds the boy Sefia saves, who I love, my favorite character by far. At some point she adds in pirates, more magic, secret societies, and assassins and all I could think is “how is this all working so well”! The amount of time it must have taken to perfect each element and level of the story to make sure it fit, flowed, and wasn’t too much for the reader to follow or didn’t seem extraneous to the plot, must have been enormous. I truly admire the talent it took to write this beautiful novel.

It also takes talent to write a story with so many points of view that are completely different and not cause the reader to get lost. I was surprised at how easily I followed all the POVs and had no trouble switching back and forth. Each character’s POV had a distinct flavor; their thoughts and personality were different. This is probably the hardest part of writing multiple POV stories. It’s easy to change their names, appearances, genders, etc. It is not as easy to make them unique in how they think and act. I loved each storyline/POV in The Reader. I don’t want to spoil anything but all the storylines converge at the end and create something totally unexpected! By far the coolest part of the storyline was the fact that as Sefia is reading the book, we are also. It took me some time to figure out what was going on, but once I caught on it was really cool!

I think the pacing of the story was the only thing I had a slight issue with. While I did burn through this book quickly, I had to stop myself from skimming during some parts. The slower pace during Sefia’s journey where she would learn new things would sometimes take me a minute to get used to and my brain would want to skim through these parts because of the lack of action or character interaction. They were important parts and not boring at all, I think my mind wanted to skip ahead so everything would come together and all my questions could be answered!

I cannot stress enough how much this did not feel like a debut novel. The beauty of the writing reminded me of the Star Touched Queen, and I would never guess it was Tracie Chee’s first published novel. I am terribly eager to see where the story goes next after The Reader. I will definitely be continuing the Sea of Ink and Gold series. I will also be picking up anything else Tracie Chee writes; she’s an auto-buy from this moment on! If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to bump it to the top of your TBR; you don’t want to miss this!

The Reader Sea of Ink and Gold
5 Star Rating

Title: The Reader
Author: Tracie Chee
Publisher: Putnam
Date Published: September 13, 2016
Where I got the book: eARC from the Penguin First to Read program (this in no way affects my review)
Purchase your copy at: AMAZON | FlyLeaf Books (Indie) | Quail Ridge Books (Indie)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

This is one of my favorite debut books of 2016. I was absolutely floored by Tracie Chee’s talent. The premise is so fascinating and original, especially for book lovers and avid readers. Can you imagine a place where books are power and very few people have access to them, let alone know how to read or what a book is? It sounds like the beginning of a bibliophile’s horror story! There are so many stories already out in the world, it is amazing to find a story this unique. To also find such talented, gorgeous writing in a debut novel makes The Reader a rare gem in the world of YA fantasy.

I absolutely loved Tracie Chee’s writing style. It was eloquent and lovely, without being overstated or flowery. There are so many quotable things in this book! It helped set the mood for the story and its diverse cast. The world-building was also excellent. I think it takes a rare talent to build a wholly unique world never before seen in literature to date. She adds so many layers to the story. We begin with Sefia and her journey to save Nin while protecting the book her parents left her, but slowly more characters and elements are added. First she adds in the people who are after Sefia and their point of view and magic. Then she adds the boy Sefia saves, who I love, my favorite character by far. At some point she adds in pirates, more magic, secret societies, and assassins and all I could think is “how is this all working so well”! The amount of time it must have taken to perfect each element and level of the story to make sure it fit, flowed, and wasn’t too much for the reader to follow or didn’t seem extraneous to the plot, must have been enormous. I truly admire the talent it took to write this beautiful novel.

It also takes talent to write a story with so many points of view that are completely different and not cause the reader to get lost. I was surprised at how easily I followed all the POVs and had no trouble switching back and forth. Each character’s POV had a distinct flavor; their thoughts and personality were different. This is probably the hardest part of writing multiple POV stories. It’s easy to change their names, appearances, genders, etc. It is not as easy to make them unique in how they think and act. I loved each storyline/POV in The Reader. I don’t want to spoil anything but all the storylines converge at the end and create something totally unexpected! By far the coolest part of the storyline was the fact that as Sefia is reading the book, we are also. It took me some time to figure out what was going on, but once I caught on it was really cool!

I think the pacing of the story was the only thing I had a slight issue with. While I did burn through this book quickly, I had to stop myself from skimming during some parts. The slower pace during Sefia’s journey where she would learn new things would sometimes take me a minute to get used to and my brain would want to skim through these parts because of the lack of action or character interaction. They were important parts and not boring at all, I think my mind wanted to skip ahead so everything would come together and all my questions could be answered!

I cannot stress enough how much this did not feel like a debut novel. The beauty of the writing reminded me of the Star Touched Queen, and I would never guess it was Tracie Chee’s first published novel. I am terribly eager to see where the story goes next after The Reader. I will definitely be continuing the Sea of Ink and Gold series. I will also be picking up anything else Tracie Chee writes; she’s an auto-buy from this moment on! If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to bump it to the top of your TBR; you don’t want to miss this!

By Kate Woods

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