Author: Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles
Publishing Date: February 9th, 2010
Publisher: Candlewick Press
My rating: 4 Stars
At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.
But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.
Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock--to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.
In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.
"Then I choose to drown," Finnikin said. "In hope. Rather than float into nothing."
A recurring thought while reading this book: I don't know what just happened; all I know is that it was AWESOME.
Melina Marchetta stays true to her title as one of the best YA authors with her spellbinding storytelling and wonderful characters.
I will have to admit that I was bored in the first hundred pages, and that I did get overwhelmed by all the names and titles. Which is why I had trouble keeping up with the plot at times. Although this detracted a bit from my enjoyment of the story, it certainly didn't keep me from becoming engrossed in the plot line.
Things I admired:
-The gruesome past that Marchetta creates. It was a lot gorier and sadder than I thought it would be, and the description of it made the hopelessness and sadness in the kingdom more real and cutting. It was amazing because there's one thing I'm afraid of, and that's when authors make a big deal out of nothing. Which Marchetta definitely did not do.
-World building. Okay, this one is actually debatable because there were tons of times when I'd get thrown for a loop because of extra details and not enough explanation. However, explanations did make the book slow at times. But you have to respect these high fantasy writers. They don't get to bootleg places from real life; they have to create entire worlds out of their own imagination. And the complex world that Finnikin and his friends live in is one that I could completely believe in.
-Theme. Or what I thought was the theme. I thought Finnikin of the Rock spoke miles for the concept of hope, just like I believed Jellicoe Road did when I read it. There was something so uplifting about this destitute kingdom with so many hopeless, memory-burdened people being saved. It made me want to do that fist bump that Judd Nelson does at the end of The Breakfast Club.
-Characters!!! I cannot emphasize enough how much I admire Marchetta's skill in creating so many characters that all seem to have outstanding personalities. We have Finnikin, the sword toting badass, and Evanjalin, who is the antithesis of the damsel in distress. Evanjalin, who I did despise a couple of times for the betrayals she seems to make, is one of the strongest female characters I've read because of her unfaltering determination to support the greater cause. But there's also Trevanion and Beatriss, Froi...I love that they all had their own side stories, but none of them overshadowed the story in general. And, of course, the romance was equally sweet and special.
In conclusion, I liked this book, though there were some shaky moments when I thought I wouldn't. Melina Marchetta has a special voice, one equal parts humorous, humbling, and brilliant. Everything is meaningful, all the dreams and actions and words. Nothing happens without a reason in this story. The biggest way I learned that was through Froi. I had no idea that the nameless street urchin would play such a large part in the story, but he did, and now I very much want to learn how his story ends.
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