Prologue - Chapter 16
General First Impressions of Finnikin of the Rock
When I first read this book I remembered thinking what a lot of story threads from the past are sprinkled throughout - what happened when Finnikin watched them burn Seranonna, what happened to the Monts, to the novices, Trevanion and Beatriss, and to the Guard, etc. The picture is never really clear until the end, of everything that happened in the past and the non-linear way in which this story is told can be a bit overwhelming. Reading it a second time really helped me order the events in my mind (and it's especially interesting to compare it to what's to come in the next two books). Of course I am yet again in awe of Melina Marchetta's storytelling because despite the clear, precise prose and the pretty straightforward way in which the characters express themselves, this is so not a simple story. And there are so many characters who feel 3-dimensional in this world, that I just can't believe this book didn't take 50 years to write! Really my second impressions of this book let me take in how Melina tells the story, and how fantastic she is at spinning so many plates at once.
Another thing that stands out for me is the realism of the details. I'm just going to point out the scene where Finnikin (and Trevanion!) goes off with some prostitutes. It's just sex, and so matter of factly stated. Why was this included when Melina could have painted Finnikin in a more heroically romantic way? Because this is realistic. And those touches of realism adds so much to the portraits of these characters - where Evanjalin is hurt by his decision to go with some girl he doesn't know, but she doesn't pout over it - just throws it at him in a heated moment, immediately changing the subject. But you know it rankled. As it should. And Finnikin has to grapple with his feelings for Evanjalin that is more than just physical need. There's also the moments in the Exile camps when you feel the pain of these displaced people and you wonder what is the best place for them. The scenes are brief overall but it's chilling and inspiring at the same time. Because they have survived and are going to find a way home.
If you do feel overwhelmed though with all these characters and their individual stories as a first-time reader, I'd just recommend to stick with the story as things become clearer later on and emotional arcs start to coalesce into face-punching feels. Not that there aren't enough major Feels moments already in the first part of this book. Trevanion and Finnikin's reunion is a major one to me. Evanjalin and Finnikin's contentious romance (!!) And the moment when Evanjalin tells Trevanion about Beatriss (Bevanion 4eva! Thanks Paola!) Also there's the introduction of the best hashtag motivator in the world: #whatneedstobedone
"What have you done?" he asked hoarsely.
The look she gave him was pure anguish.
"What needs to be done!" (p75)
Just put that phrase up over your home or work desk space and stare at it whenever you don't feel like writing that blog post, review, or story. It needs to be done folks! :)
If you would like, please comment with any of your thoughts on the first half of this book!
What do you think of the world building?
Any characters stand out or resonate with you?
Has it lived up at all to the ridiculous expectations our enthusiasm for the books has created? (Sorry about that)
And if you are posting your own discussions/reaction posts you can link up to it here for all the other participants to read! For a breakdown of what's been happening this past week for this event check out the links below:
Week 1 Discussion: Link Submission