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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: Finnikin of the Rock

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1)
by Melina Marchetta

Plot Summary:

Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive.

Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father.

But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin's faith in her . . . but in himself.

Review:

Wow.  An intelligent YA novel with rich fantasy world-building and a plot rooted in the characters yet with fast-paced action.  This is absolutely how it's done.  Finnikin of the Rock is such a wonderful, immersive book with full, rich storytelling!

The amazing-ness starts with the characters because of the depth to them - both good sides and bad - they are complex and believable and because they feel so real, the emotions this book delves into sometimes gave me chills, I was so in tune with what the characters were feeling.  Although heroic Finnikin is the title character - and the one who must lead his people to their destiny (as foreshadowed in the beginning) - Evanjalin is my favorite character.  So strong, stalwart and capable, she is an amazing heroine who doesn't back down from hard truths, and has a resolute, strong will that makes for dramatic clashes in personalities with other characters (I'll give you three guesses for who wins through) but she works for the admiration of everyone around her, including this reader.  I love how smart, perceptive and adaptable she is, and the fantastic role she has in this story.

With such deftly created characters I was very invested in the romance and it helped that the story gave it time to grow and develop between the characters - which made the complications that arose feel real and important enough to be the undoing of the couple.  It was a balanced relationship - not all sugar, but definitely sweet, but not all darkness either.  And it's so interesting in my opinion when an author creates a character that comes off a bit negatively or unlikable in the beginning and then have the reader's opinion completely turn around by the end (or halfway) because to introduce such a complex character seems like a real feat and this book does it twice!

The world-building is richly detailed - the more so because of a history that haunts the main characters which the author has to gradually unfold as the story progresses, and it is done in such a way that the pace never flags, and the reader is never confused, but always kept interested.  And the twists and turns in plot help keep the interest up.  There are some major surprise reveals, especially when it comes to Evanjalin!

The plot really felt masterfully executed because pieces of a puzzle were slowly given to the reader - in the way Finnikin's life changes, and the importance of the quest that he is pulled into, and the true events of the dark days in Lumatere's past.  Yet the story fits the pieces together so well, in an admirable feat of storytelling with lyrical writing and incredible characters.  There is so much that happens in this story - some really interesting character arcs and intricate world building - that it has an epic feel without it being a lengthy tome, which is great but I am glad there are two more books in the series for me to savor! This outstanding fantasy adventure novel is highly recommended!  Enjoy the world, enjoy the action, and especially enjoy the characters!


(And many thanks to Paola at A Novel Idea (also #FinnikinAmbassador) for the recommendation!  I'm glad to announce that if you have read this book, there is help for all the feels at #PostFinnikinSupportGroup!)

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20 comments:

  1. Wonderful spot on review! I loved this book too. You are exactly right about the complex characters and detailed world building, but none of it ever felt like info-dumping as so often happens with these very intricate worlds.

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    1. Thank you! I am so impressed with Melina's writing, I plan to check out some of her contemporary stories as well!

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  2. I love this book so, so much, and I'm happy that you enjoyed it, too! The character development just blew me away; like you mentioned, the characters just seem so REAL. I've owned Froi of the Exiles for ages now and have no idea why I haven't read it yet; I've really got to fix that, lol!

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    1. I have Froi of the Exiles waiting for me at the library right now - it's going to be my weekend. :D

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  3. My sister loved this book as well.. I need to check it out!

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    1. Yes! It's fantastic, I think you'll love it! :)

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  4. EEEEKKKK I saw your review in my Bloglovin feed and had to pause to collect my self control haha. I get really excited when I recommend this book to friends and they end up loving it too! So happy that you did! #TrevanionBearHug

    Agree with you on all points about Evanjalin, who is both my favorite character AND my spirit animal, haha. I just love her so much. I admire Marchetta's construction of her character -- so tough, so difficult to love or understand sometimes, and yet so undeniably incredible. She is the driving force of this novel, in my opinion. Finnikin provides this contrast because he's a much more gentle person than she is, but they're tough in different ways, and that's why they work.

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    1. Well I'm so glad I listened to you! You were completely right about this book. :D You are right, Evanjalin really feels like the main character in the book, which is interesting when the author seemed to want the focus to be on Finnikin. But maybe it's just how she works - maybe Froi is not really the main center of his novel... don't tell me though! :D

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  5. I love Melina Marchetta! Her works are always superb and she may be one of my favorite authors yet I feel unsure about that.

    I have seen this book and she usually writes contemporary (well at least I think so) so seeing her write fantasy is definitely something to look forward to. I love how you described all the characters! I love strong characters, I can never get old of that. And good world-building is definitely a plus.

    I really want to read this now!!!

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    1. I really admire her writing in this one book, and I want to check out more, so she might be a favorite author of mine too actually! I think after the Lumatere series I want to read Saving Francesca because I've heard such good things about that. I hope you get to read Finnikin soon!

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  6. OH MY GOODNESS THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I'm so excited that you loved it!!!

    I have to say, I think the series gets better as it goes on, so you'll love the next two books just as much if not more than this one. While they don't follow Finnikin and Isaboe as closely--instead you're treated to Froi, who is fantastic, but you don't know it yet!--but they're around, being as awesome as always. :) I like Melina's contemporaries, but these are the books that made me love her.

    Rachel @ Paper Cuts

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    1. Ooh wow, I'm really looking forward to reading Froi then, I have it waiting at the library for me right now! I am so glad that the series gets better - sometimes second books don't work as well in my opinion. I loved Froi's character arc in the first book, and I can definitely see how the author can build on it in the next!

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  7. I was not able to finish this one. I keep reading great things about it, but I think it's too much "fantasy" for me. I do like her other books, though, and I enjoyed reading your review.

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    1. Aw that's too bad you didn't like it, but I understand that fantasy isn't for everyone! I look forward to trying out some of her other books!

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  8. Oeh looks like something I need to try out sometimes! Love the cover!

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    1. Oh yay, I am glad to convince more people to read it! I'm just starting the second book, and I just love sinking into this world. :D

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  9. Oh, my dear stars, the way you wrote this particular review, made me deeply curious and set to read it myself! I'll have to scour the stacks at my library to see if they were intuitive enough to place this amongst their offerings!! Your writing evokes your passion not only for this story but for all the stories you read -- something that I can personally relate, too!

    When I'm able to find a copy of this book, I will happily come back to let you know how I felt about it!! :) Thank you for giving such a wicked sweet glimpse into a world that I am on pins to become familiar with myself! The world of YA & fantasy is such a wide field of choices, that I am thankful that I discovered this post!!

    *I found this via Blog Nation, but I originally found your blog via Books of Eyre! I am participating in it, too! :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I'm really glad that my review inspired you to read this book, as it's one of my very favorites from this year and I really think more people should read it! I hope you enjoy it! Just to let you know that I and another blogger are planning an event to celebrate this book that includes a read-a-long and posts from all the participants on any topic related to the book, including reviews. I would be so happy if you would like to participate! It tentatively planned for October, but no official announcement has been made yet.

      And I'm glad to hear from a Jane Eyre fan! I look forward to reading your reviews on the books you are reading for the challenge!

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    2. Hallo, Hallo Charlene,

      I have found this wicked book in the stacks!! Please put me on the list for the Read-A-Along! I will put the tentative information on my blog! I will not read it ahead of time, as I want to give the most in this event! October would be brilliant timing, I think!

      I am too, actually, on the level of seeing where my Books of Eyre posts are taking me, but did you know, another blogger is hosting "Septemb-Eyre" in case you wanted to re-read the original masterpiece!! It's listed under my Aborbing Literature page!!

      I am simply stoked to have stumbled across your blog and look forward to reading more of it's content!! Thank you for following me, and I, in turn, am following you!

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    3. So glad you'll be participating! It'll be so fun to get thoughts on the book from readers new to it! :) And thank you again for telling me about Septemb-Eyre!

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