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YA, Fantasy, 416 pages, Bloomsbury USA Children's
- Series: First in a series.
- Pub date: August 7th 2012
- Disclosure: Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!
Judged by its cover: Terrible. Nothing about this cover makes me think high fantasy or sleek assassins, and I even heard the author complain about her cover at the BEA Apocalypsies party. There's a much cooler alternate cover--I'm not sure if it's a foreign edition or if it will be used for the paperback edition or if it's for something else--that does a much better job of conveying the story.
Few 2012 debuts have made me jump up and down in anticipation this year. I don't know if it's a promotional issue or if I'm just more cynical or if the books themselves simply seem less interesting, but either way, there hasn't been much that has piqued my interest. Throne of Glass was the exception to that rule: what looked like a high fantasy romp with a lot of derring do and a badass female heroine. When I loaded that month's batch of NetGalley copies onto my Nook, Throne of Glass was the first one I read, for better or worse.
I'm pretty sure it was for worse.
What Throne of Glass is, is a charming, sweet, and funny read that seems geared towards middle grade readers, who will certainly lap it up. The problem is that it could have been so much more: a sleek, scary, and multifaceted story along the lines of Graceling and other Kristin Cashore stories (as much as I try not to compare one YA to another). It's another case of the book I got conflicting with the book I thought I was getting, and I'm having a hard time seeing the good in Throne of Glass through my bitter disappointment.
For fantasy readers looking for more than just a good time, there's a whole host of other problems, including a highly predictable plot riddled with cliches, dialogue that's just plain amateurish, and an improbable main character who struggles to be likeable and also to be believable as a teenage girl who's seen and done so many horrible things. There's one scene where the prince (a convenient love interest) sends up a bag of candy to Celaena's room, and she says something along the lines of--I'm paraphrasing--"Oh, candy! Delicious candy!" and proceeds to eat herself sick like a little kid. Maybe it's endearing to have a vicious assassin with a sweet tooth, but personally, I'm not buying it.
There's also a lot of double-crossing and intrigue that left my head spinning, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case was annoying. I was foggy on the details almost immediately after I put the book down, and the ending was forgettable.
YA fantasy readers tend to have voracious appetites, and it's especially important in the genre to make sure your story stands out. Throne of Glass just...doesn't, which is too bad. I might pick up the second book in the series if it comes my way, but I'm definitely not going to seek it out, and my expectations won't be high.
...and the Short:
A great concept bogged down by amateurish execution. It's not terrible, but it's just not great, and I'll be looking elsewhere for my high fantasy kicks in the future.
The Final Word: Meh.