Sunday, October 3, 2010

Review: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Brightly Woven
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Egmont USA
Series: N/A
Pages: 354
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: March 23, 2010
How Received: Library

Summary: The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness...

Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country—and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets—about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North’s sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?

My Thoughts:
This was one of the messiest fantasy novels I had read in... well, ever. The events are explained in such a confusing matter – I had to re-read a couple of them twice or three times to fully understand what transpired. I couldn’t even begin to fathom the whirlwind of jumbled words and thoughts at the beginning of the novel, but if you can get past the disjointed writing at the beginning, there is promise at the end. But even at the end I had a lot of clueless moments, so that isn’t saying much.

A lot of things in the book just didn’t make sense at all. It almost seemed like Bracken focused so much on making her major storylines flow and connect that she totally neglected the smaller, “insignificant” details. For example, North slipped out that a wizard poisoned the king. But Sydelle totally glazes over that fact. Instead, she asks about it 100 pages later. Another is when Sydelle cut her hair at the end. No one mentioned it, not even North. Her hair was a considerable length – there couldn’t have been no one to at least comment on it.

It was hard getting absorbed into Brightly Woven’s world. With fantasy, you have to have a knack with easing the reader into the world – I never got that with this novel. There was a lot of “transporting” – one moment they’re talking in the main room, the next they’re in Sydelle’s room, alone. Not enough was explained to us, and descriptions were almost non-existent.

The plot and pacing were okay, but I had figured out many of the plot twists before they were really revealed.

Sydelle, the main character, downright annoyed the living daylights out of me in the beginning. She was so obnoxious and whiny the entire first half of the book. I mean, come ON. She willingly went with North. She had the choice to go back. Actually, no I take back my first statement. She annoyed me all through the novel. She was just so dang stupid. She kept giving North attitude about him, when it was really her that was the problem. Half of the time, she’d get herself into situations where she refuses North’s help, but ends up needing it anyway because she fails. I despised her when she felt “betrayed” by North towards the end.

I really enjoyed North, though, although his character seemed off at times. He had no set personality until the end, really. I also loved Owain (and his ridiculous love for his horse, Vesta, haha). He made suffering through Sydelle’s whining bearable. The Queens character didn’t seem set, either. There was one moment when I was reading something the queen was saying and was like... “That so does not sound like the queen we met a chapter or two back...”

The romance was okay. I loved how it progressed, and there were a couple of times I found myself giggling. But it wasn’t something praise-worthy, though. Just so-so (I blame Sydelle). 

Cover Musings: I picked this book because of the cover. It is the epitome of gorgeous! I love the text and the brushes towards the bottom, and the model for this is gorgeousss.

Memorable Quotes:
"‘Thank you for bringing me back to the village,’ I said. ‘I don’t know that I’ve ever fainted before. I guess I was more overwhelmed than I thought.’
‘And here I thought you swooned at the sight of me.’ He gave me a crooked smile." (pg. 17)

"‘Well, have you ever thought of bathing?’ I asked, turning away. ‘No one wants to hire a wizard who smells worse than their outhouse. And who knows what creatures are living in that hair?’
‘Why do I need to brush my hair, anyway?’ He lifted his arm and gave a few experimental whiffs. ‘And I smell wonderful. All manly and whatnot.’" (pg. 66)

"‘You know, lass, the reason I was surprised to see you was because I thought that a pretty, delicate thing like yourself couldn’t possibly be there with Wayland North. He doesn’t bring many girls round unless they’re part of a job—but also ‘cause his smell can sometimes kill kittens.’" (pg. 80)

"‘You know we’re supposed to be together; it’s the way it’s always been!’
But it was no longer the way it could be. How do you tell someone that he is a part of your past, and not your future?" (pg. 319-320)

"‘You’ll have to treat me with a little more respect. They consider me a goddess in some countries, you know.’
North laughed loudly, reaching for me again. ‘Yes, but I’ve always considered you a goddess, Sydelle Mirabil.’
I smiled, letting him pull me close. Wizards, honestly." (pg. 347)

Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: I had really high hopes for this novel, being a fantasy lover through and through. It was just too jumbled and disjointed for me to really, truly love it. If it hadn’t been so messy, I might have liked it more. Overall, it was a good read, but definitely not stunning.

Rating: 3/5

**This review was submitted in the 2010 Debut Author Challenge!


Amelia said...

oh my gosh, girl, your review is so like mine!!!!
I couldn't stand Sydelle either, and I mentioned that she had this "girls RULE!" attitude, which would have been okay if she wasn't so downright stupid. And yeah, she didn't like North's help, but she needed it, because she was such a moron she couldn't get her own butt out of trouble. Ahh, glad to know someone else sees it too. I took SO MUCH HEAT for my BW review :P
And I didn't think the fantasy world made a whole lot of sense at all. The word I used was "amateurish." Yeah, ouch.
Anyway, your review made my night! I'm not the only one!! Woohoo!

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Wow, really? I thought I'd be the only one, too! For a while I was a bit hesitant to post this up because I had received comments on BW on other posts and didn't want to disappoint with a half negative review.

I checked out your review, which was beyond hilarious. xD I got the same idea about North, too. When I envisioned him, I was always envisioning a 25+ year old rather than an 18 year old lad. AARP.. *chuckles* I'm a fantasy nut, and I think Bracken could have done a lot better of a job weaving the world they lived in. Amateurish sounds about right. Hopefully she learns to clean up that whole aspect in her next few books!

I was wondering whether I was too harsh on the book at times, but at the end (and after reflecting on it a bit), I couldn't justify it with higher praise from what I personally felt. I sort of liked/disliked it, and I'd recommend it to others (I do that too, btw -- somewhat not like a book yet still recommend it :P).

I don't mind if I get heat from my BW review. I know a lot of people who loved this book, but I wasn't one of them. It was good, but it didn't blow me away. To each their own, really.

Anywhoo, I'm glad you agree and that we pointed out a lot of the same topics! (They must have been really transparent if there were several things we could agree on!) Thanks for reading my review! <3

La Coccinelle said...

I've heard very similar things about this book. It's too bad, because the initial premise sounds interesting. But if I can't lose myself in the settings and characters... meh.

And North sounds absolutely disgusting. Is a smelly man supposed to be sexy now? Ewww...

Michelle Santiago said...

The cover is gorgeous and those quotes sound really great! But it's too bad the rest isn't so great. Thanks for the review!


Felicity Grace Terry said...

Shame that you were so disappointed, the book had such a lovely cover as well - oh well, you know what they say about never judging a book. Here's hoping your next read is a better one.

Unknown said...

Hello, wonderful review. I found you through bookblogs.ning and became a follower

Ashlie Swainston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashlie Swainston said...

I'm so glad you reviewed this book Kristina! I was totally going to pick this book up and now I'm so glad I didn't! The only reason I wanted it was the cover! It's so whimsical and beautiful! Ha! I would have been so mad that it was so disconnected. Hooray for book blogs! Sorry you had to go through the torture though :( Where did you find Amelia's review of it? I looked on her blog but didn't see it... I think I'm blind.

Annnnyway, thanks for being so sweet about my sister. It's funny that your dad was Mormon and your mom wasn't. At least you got to have different experiences and at least they were letting you choose for yourself. I have a friend whose dad is catholic and her mom is Mormon and her dad won't let her become a member of the LDS church because she lives at home still (even though she's 18). It's sad because she's a good kid and makes good choices, has strong beliefs that are positive, so who cares what she chooses?

I'm sorry about your dad as well, I can only imagine it hasn't been easy. That is the good thing and one of my favorite things about the LDS church though: we believe that you can be with your family through eternity by being sealed to them in the Temple. The wonderful thing about this is that even if a family member passes away, their work in the Temple can still be done for them, so there is hope for everyone, even if they were never a member of the church in this part of life. Anyways, I don't want to seem pushy or self-righteous because, well that's just dumb haha. It's just a great part of what I believe.

And duuuuude, Vegas! Haha! Next time you're here, you had so better send me a message! Sorry this post is so long! Eeek! Have a great Monday! <3, Ashlie

Ashlie Swainston said...

Aha! Thanks for the heads up on listing Everlasting twice and total face palm moment with the Iron Daughter. I went to look for your blog on my dashboard and realized I wasn't even following you yet! So now I am! Oh silliness!

<3, Ashlie

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

@La Coccinelle: The premise did indeed sound promising. I have to admit I was very excited for this book. It was just way too messy for my tastes. Plus, I'm more critical on fantasy than any other genre, because you have to invite the reader into your world -- you can't automatically assume we'll just GET it and keep going. Ah well.

@Leslie: Thank you! :D I felt the same way. There were a couple of good scenes, though :)

@Tracy: It was a shame. :( I saw epic cover, I assumed epic story. Will definitely not do that again. :(

@Man of La Books: Thanks! I followed you back! :)

@Ashlie: Wow that's the longest comment I've ever gotten! That's kind of cool. xD I'm glad my review helped! :D I'm pretty harsh on the fantasy genre, but I think my harshness with this book is justified. You can read Amelie's review HERE.

You're welcome. Cancer is an ugly thing and a horrible thing to go through as a family member (I'm sure it's worse for the person, but you know what I mean). It's really nerve-wracking. My parents were really open about letting me make my own decisions and form my own opinions about things: they were very lax and wanted me to have a broader perspective than most people, so I'm thankful to them for that. :) That sucks about your friend, though! I can't imagine what that must be like. :/

Thank you for the kind thoughts on my dad. :) It's been really, REALLY tough on my family. He was my only friend back in the day, so his death really hit me hard. I'd like to THINK I'm ok now though. xD

And YES totally! :D I'm actually turning 21 this November, with plans for going to Vegas! :D I'll definitely let you know! :D

And (lastly, whew! xD) you're welcome! :D I figured you might have missed it so... I'm your second pair of eyes! :D Thank you for the follow <3! I was surprised when I saw that - I could have sworn you were following me already. xD Anyway, thanks! :D <3

Liddy said...

This book looks so cooL!
I totally agree on the cover aspect, It's gorgeous!
Lovely Review, thanks for your opinion!
Perhpas if you have time, would you mind paying a visit to my blog?

Penelope Sanchez said...

While the beginning was good, the last half was fantastic. Between all the action, twists, amazing characters, and epic plot this book is definitely a must-read for any fantasy fan.

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