Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Reign of Shadows

Author: Sophie Jordan
Release: February 9th 2016
Genre: Fantasy, YA
#1 in the Reign of Shadows series
Sequels: TBA


Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best. 


You know, when starting to read new books, I usually wait a little before logging them in as currently reading on Goodreads. I usually don't do that up until I'm about 20-30% into the book, so I'll have some sort of guarantee that the book is able to capture enough interest for me to actually see it through. Many have been put aside because I just couldn't enjoy them at the time. 

I logged Reign of Shadows in as currently reading at about 50% through. Why, you ask? It wasn't because I was unsure whether I would finish this or didn't even notice it going by so fast because I was engrossed. No, it was because I didn't even notice I was already halfway done with it, because up until then, nothing had happened. Halfway through the whole damn book and nothing of significance has went down yet. And let me assure you, there is nothing happening during the remaining half either. This book was so uneventful and boring I am sure I will have forgotten all about it in approximately ... four hours. Maybe five.

Adventure exploration plots are always hard to pull off. There's just not that much appeal in reading about some characters wandering around aimlessly, you know. It's a daunting task few authors manage to bring to fruition, there have been very little books of this sort that I have enjoyed. The only ones coming to mind right now are Under the Never Sky  and These Broken Stars. And sadly, Sophie Jordan's novel didn't join these two on that list. The worst part? I didn't even know that it would be a simple adventure novel. The blurb doesn't really imply that this would be all the novel was about; instead, I'd thought it would be about Luna reclaiming her throne, getting her kingdom back, plotting against the usurper king, what have you. Sure, I would have had nothing against that bigger quest involving some walking, but this book didn't have any plot besides journeying through the country. To a supposed safe haven. There was no bigger main goal, no side quests, no character arc plot lines. The book was as barren as the landscape these characters traverse through.

And the characters were just as dull. Luna seemed interesting at first, because there's a plot twist that happens very early on, like, page 20 that reveals something very unique about her, which I thought would serve to make this whole book that much more intriguing. Alas, no. While it was something new for the first few chapters, it quickly got boring because it was written as really boring. 
Fowler, don't even get me started on him. You see, I tolerated Luna. She wasn't a bad character, she was simply wasted potential. But Fowler? He was such a stereotypical brooding, dark guy trope and I was rolling my eyes pretty much constantly whenever he talked. His neverending angsting about not caring for anyone and being heartless was repetitive as fuck because that's all he ever talks about; how he is unable to get close to anyone yaddi yadda yadda. I am not even exaggerating here, believe me! That REALLY is all he is ever talking about! And it was unbearable.

The romance is probably the focal point of the whole novel, being the only, and I mean it, the only plot to ever happen. And it wasn't even done well. Now, I can see why Luna might be instantly attracted to Fowler. I really do. She has only ever had contact with her two guardians all her life and he is the first boy she ever sees, period, and then he's also really handsome and her age. I understand. What I don't understand is why or how Fowler is so instantly drawn to her as well, even though he distances himself from her and admits, time and again, that he won't/can't/shan't care about anyone ever again (as mentioned above...). He knows Luna a few hours, hours I'm telling you, and he is suddenly so affected by her closeness, his breath hitching, his body tingling and getting all warm, fuzzy feelings in the stomach and all that. After a few hours?! Is he that sex deprived, or ...? What is it? What gives? Please, please tell me. This insta-love romance destroyed the last remaining shreds of sympathy I had for this book, it ultimately dealt it its own death blow. If the romance, at least, had been executed semi-well, I might have been able to enjoy this novel at least a little bit, but it just wasn't.

The world-building was nonexistent. The king and queen of Relhok were murdered by the chancellor, who is now a mad king sitting on the throne. Two loyal servants ran away with the princess, whom everyone thought died with the pregnant queen. Yet, somehow, after seventeen years, the chancellor suddenly knows that she did survive? How? And what about the eclipse? Why did it happen in the first place? What are the "dark dwellers," where did they come from? Jordan never once explains any of this. She just throws this world at our feet, creating it as the backdrop to the romance and nothing else. It's not important, so you don't need to know about it. I see.

Can I say one good thing about this novel? Hmmm, let me think. The writing was nice enough, I guess and .... nope, that's it. I got nothing more.

The ending, the final climax, the final plot twist, they were all so underwhelming, mainly because I was already long finished with this book by then, mentally of course. It tried to be very whimsical, very Titanic-like, but at that point, I was only eagerly awaiting either death or the book's end. Preferably the latter, which was graciously granted to me shortly thereafter, thankfully. Will I read the sequel? Doubtful. Never say never, but I can't see myself being overly excited about it.

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