Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock
By Melina Marchetta
Published 2010 by Candlewick Press

When Finnikin is nine, he stands on the rock of the three wonders with his two best friends. They mix their blood in an oath to protect their kingdom, Lumatere. But then the five days of the unspeakable happen. Ten years later, Finnikin stands atop another rock, claiming a young girl called Evanjalin who claims an astonishing thing: heir of Lumatere, Balthazar (who bled on the rock with Finnikin) is alive and ready to lead his people back to their kingdom.

Marchetta is one of those authors who I mean to read but never seem to get around to. This is, I understand, a departure from her usual books - here we have high fantasy instead of contemporary realistic. I'm not sure why I started with this one rather than one of her realistic novels, but I'm glad I did. Though it took a bit for me to get into, this book ended up being a wonderful read. Marchetta has created a stunning world that I long to know more about and can't wait to enter again. She's populated this world with incredible characters - they leap off the page and completely grabbed me. I am totally smitten with Finnikin - though I often roll my eyes at rough-around-the-edges boys in teen novels, Finn is, for some reason, my exception. He is vulnerable and heroic, smart and sarcastic - I just adore the way Marchetta makes him sound. And the rest of the characters - I mean, I totally fell for them. This book pulled at my heartstrings and actually made me cry - something that I generally don't do when it comes to fantasy (well, you know, except Harry Potter). But this book - it was just heartbreaking. Marchetta has created a world and characters that are so gripping and believable that I was right there alongside the characters the whole time. I was shocked and appalled when Finnikin slowly learns the truth about the deceptive Evanjalin. I was saddened and distraught with Evanjalin whenever Finnikin refused to speak to her, put off by her misdirections. I was joyful and incredulous with Finn when he reunites with a long-lost relative. Suffice it to say that I was a tiny bit emotionally invested in this book. I don't even have anything more sensible to say because I completely loved this book. The plotting is so excellent - Marchetta manages to cram so much into this book, but it never feels overstuffed or overdone. Instead, the pieces are revealed so excruciatingly beautifully and brilliantly that readers are satisfied throughout the whole book. Enough of the mysteries are revealed to leave readers content in reading the single volume, but there is clearly enough material to continue. I am so thrilled that this is the first in a trilogy and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book. I was not expecting to love this as much as I did. I'm so glad I picked it up. Highly recommended for fantasy fans!

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