Warning: Illegal offset type in /home/content/99/11102399/html/wp-includes/class-wp-widget-factory.php on line 57
Erika Johansen Archives - Canadian eReader

Author: Erika Johansen

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – Review

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – ReviewThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Davina Porter
Length: 18 hrs and 10 mins
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The Invasion of the Tearling is the second in Erika Johansen’s YA Tearling fantasy trilogy.  It continues the story of young queen Kelsea Glynn as she prepares to deal with the aftermath of her actions in the first novel, The Queen of the Tearling.

I’ll start this review by stating that I hadn’t actually intended to continue with this series, given that I had significant issues with Johansen’s worldbuilding and character development in the first book.  However, I recently read the book blurb which indicated to me that Johansen was taking clear steps to address some of the issues with the worldbuilding at least and so I decided to give the series a second chance. 

What I liked

Additional point of view character.  For this second outing, Johansen has added a second point of view character, Lily.  Lily is a woman from the pre-Crossing era who has a strange connection with our protagonist, Kelsea.  Through her eyes we learn more about the history of the Tearling’s founding and what led William Tear to strike out to begin his utopia.

I absolutely loved Lily’s story and, personally, I was far more engaged with her plight than Kelsea’s.  These sections were wonderful both from a plot point of view and character development.  Throughout, I really found myself rooting for her.  This section of the book reads more like a dystopian novel than the traditional fantasy of Kelsea’s section, but it worked very well.  

It should be noted that Lily’s section deals with some issues which are far grittier and more adult than those generally found in young adult or even new adult books, and was written in a more adult manner.  Lily is notably older than Kelsea and is in a different life stage.  It could well be that’s why I connected more with her, as I too, am older than your average young adult protagonist!

Lily’s character development was beautifully written.

Kelsea’s romantic life. Often in YA, this can be a particularly problematic area, with the romance either subjected to the inevitable love triangle or so overblown with stars and rainbows it becomes intolerable.  I get it.  First love can be awesome.  Too often though YA authors portray it through rose-tinted spectacles.  Johansen’s portrayal of this part of Kelsea’s life felt grounded in reality and was excellently written.

In general I found Kelsea more consistently written in Invasion of the Tearling than she was in Queen.  I particularly enjoyed how the connection between her and Lily played out.

The pre-Crossing history.  The promise of learning more about the founding of the Tearling was what drew me back in to give this series a second chance and Johansen certainly made good on that promise.  I loved what we got, but I’m not one hundred percent convinced, though, that she has allayed the concerns I had from the first book.  I still can’t see the logic in why Harry Potter survived the Crossing but the internal combustion engine didn’t.  We still have a lot to discover, so I’ll suspend final judgement on this aspect until after the final book.

What I didn’t like

Additional point of view.  Yes, I know I had this listed in part of my Likes; let me explain.  The two main point of view characters are in different worlds, and are at different life stages and more, importantly, are written as such.  It feels almost like two completely separate books, and I’m not certain that they are targeting the same audience.

The audio narration.  I had a bit of a problem with the audio narration.  The book is narrated by Davina Porter, who, don’t get me wrong, does a great job.  My issue is that she is best known to me as the narrator of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.  Ms Porter has a distinctive voice and half the time I kept expecting Jamie Fraser to come sauntering into the scene.  That was my personal issue though and it may not be one for you.

In summary then, I found Invasion a stronger book than Queen of the Tearling.  That’s not to say it’s perfect by any means.  I’m still not completely certain Johansen can pull together a completely cohesive overall story arc by the end of the trilogy, but I’m invested enough that I want to read book three to find out.

I gave Invasion of the Tearling 3.5-4 stars out of five.

    four-stars

    Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – Review

    Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – ReviewQueen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
    Series: Queen of the Tearling #1
    Also in this series: The Invasion of the Tearling
    Format: Audiobook
    Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
    Length: 14 hours 30 mins
    Genres: Epic Fantasy, Young Adult
    Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
    Evelynne's rating: three-stars

    The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is a new YA epic fantasy novel which tells the story of Kelsea Raleigh Glynn who must reclaim her birthright of the Tear throne.  To do this she must survive plots against her by her uncle, the Regent, and take a stand against the Mort Queen to protect her people.  The fantasy is quite subtle in this book, unlike HarperCollins’ publicity machine which has been seriously promoting this book.  This has been helped by the fact that Emma Watson has bought the film rights to the book and intends to play Kelsea in an upcoming movie adaptation.  In all honesty, I cannot say that the hype was justified – I had a few significant issues with the book.  But first of all let’s say what I liked.

    What I liked

    The protagonist.  From various interviews by Erika Johansen I have read it appears she has set out to create a YA protagonist who was more of an Everygirl rather than your typical YA heroine; stunningly beautiful with attractive young men fighting over her attentions while she runs a marathon and slays a few baddies before breakfast.  In that respect I believe Johansen succeeded in this.  Her Kelsea is rather homely, carries a little extra weight, would rather curl up with a good book than hike through the forest, and is refreshingly free (so far) of romantic entanglements.

    Social conscience.  I also appreciated that Kelsea has a strong social conscience.  She acts the way she does not merely because she is forced into situations by circumstances but because she genuinely wishes to do what’s best for her people.  

    Interesting supporting characters.  The characters Kelsea meets on her journey are wonderfully intriguing.  I look forward to reading more about The Mace and The Fetch, and I suspect we’ll hear more of Barty and Carlin’s backstory before the end of the series.

    What I didn’t like

    Inconsistent characterisation.  I was especially irritated that Kelsea seemed to be able to assess quickly and accurately the people she meets on her journey.  This is a young woman who has grown up in near isolation for her own protection.  While she has read a lot and has been well taught by Carlin, it seems rather unlikely to me that someone who hadn’t encountered many other people in her life would be able to judge them so accurately and consistently.  I suppose I might give her a pass on that with her training and the possible influence of the magical jewels, but still, it didn’t sit easily with me.

    The worldbuilding.  This for me was by far the weakest part of the book.  The important part of any worldbuilding is that it should be logical and consistent within its own framework.  In the case of The Queen of the Tearling that is not the case. From the blurb, I gathered that William Tearling and his followers had left from our modern day world to colonise a new landmass that had appeared and to found a new utopia.  I was left with the question what was this utopia supposed to consist of?  What was their aim?  This appears to have been a planned exodus and not a last minute flight from disaster – the colonists had time to choose and pack books and other resources.  Too often I felt Johansen was trying to shoehorn modern references into a typical epic fantasy mediaeval world with little justification or explanation.  I just could not suspend my disbelief in a world where people understand recessive genes, in which the Harry Potter novels survive, but the colonists have not yet developed a basic combustion engine or remastered electricity.  It’s not as if the Crossing happened twenty years ago; it’s been three centuries since William Tear left our world.  Or were they too busy trying to recreate Harry Potter’s butterbeer to think about electricity? We humans are resourceful and inventive creatures; surely in three hundred years we would have progressed beyond the society Johansen describes?

    Perhaps I am missing some key explanation that was given that makes all this make sense.  If I have, please do let me know.

    If you are interested in a post-apocalyptic epic fantasy world with oblique modern day references it is far better executed in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series.  

    I gave The Queen of the Tearling three stars out of five.

     buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible, eBooks.com, Indiebound

    three-stars
    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

    Join other followers