For this fourth blog post of 2011, I'm going to take the opportunity to post a book review. The author, Malinda Lo, has previously published a book set in the same kingdom. Huntress is a prequel in the sense that it is set well before the first book, Ash. However, not having read Ash, I was able to understand Huntress without any problems.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the Hip Scout program sponsored by LB-Teens. This review is entirely my own thoughts and ideas. I am not being further compensated for this review.
Overall, I found Huntress to be a very captivating book. Starting with the first line, the plot dragged me in, and I could barely put the book down. I always wanted to know what would happen next, because ever time I thought I figured out what would happen, I found myself to be mistaken.
Aside from their magical tendencies, the two main characters, Kaede and Taisin, were very relatable. The issues they are forced to deal with over the course of the novel, from their sexualities to the death of loved ones to their journey towards the unknown are all things that teens today have to face. Huntress presented these topics in a way that is fun to read about yet also helpful for readers who are struggling with the same things.
I liked that the characters' names were distinguishable from one another. I find that oftentimes in fantasy books, characters and places are given very obscure and difficult-to-remember names; however, this was not the case in Huntress. Though some of the names were not common, they were all very easy to remember. This made it easy to follow the plot without getting tripped up with strange pronunciations and spellings.
My one major issue with Huntress was its ending. I don't want to spoil anything here, but from the time Kaede returns to the Queen for the last time until the end of the book is only thirteen pages. These pages cover not only what happens at the palace but also the girls' return home and talks of the futures of all the characters. It seemed very rushed compared to the leisurely pace of the rest of the novel. Part V (this ending) seemed disjointed from the rest of the book in part because of this change of pace, but also because it seemed to switch from being character-driven to plot-driven. While in general I do not have a preference as to which of these types of books I enjoy reading more, it does seem a little bit jarring to have such a sudden change within the same book.
The last thing I want to address is the LGBTQ classification that this book is given. Yes, Kaede and Taisin are struggling with issues of sexuality and their love for each other in a society that does not support lesbians. However, when it comes down to it, Kaede and Taisin are average teenage girls who just happen to be lesbians. If anything, it gives a deeper dimension to their journey and their relationship that adds to what the book is trying to say. Malinda Lo uses these two strong female main characters to remind the reader that he should accept everyone for who they are.
I would highly recommend Huntress to any teenager or even college student (like myself) who is looking for a maturely-written fantasy novel that has enough ties with reality to make it relatable to the reader.
(Also, shout-out to Malinda Lo, who you can find on her Twitter. She's great about replying to her fans, so be sure to follow her and comment if you read Huntress or Ash!)
Huntress will be published on April 5, 2011.