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Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, 
book 1
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy
Publisher: Harper-Collins
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
“On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.”
The Queen of the Tearling is the first book in The Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen.

I haven’t started this rant review and I know it’s going to be one of the hard ones to write. Why? Because there were so many things I didn’t like about this book that I can’t possibly mention them all, but at the same time I couldn’t stop reading it. How is that possible? I don’t know… Sorcery?

First, let me start by saying that this book has potential; sadly it stays there… in potential. The world building is a huge Swiss cheese, full of holes and with not a gap-filler in sight. The main character, Kelsea, is described as a plain girl and that’s exactly what she is, a plain character. With only a few exceptions the secondary characters are one-dimensional and under developed, and to add to that there were pages and pages of incongruences and hundreds of questions with no answers. Now, do you get me why this is going to be a hard one?

Let’s talk about the Queen’s Guard: They are supposed to be the best warriors the Tearling has to offer. What do they do when they are escorting Kelsea - whose life is very valuable and in danger - from the hiding place where she grew up to the Keep? During the day they protect her riding in a diamond formation around her. Very professional of them… but… During the second night, they got drunk and sang “filthy songs” (Kelsea’s words, not mine) at the top of their lungs… the best part is that they know there are assassins (The Caden) tracking them… Of course, when you have assassins on your trail the best way of action is to get drunk and be loud. *headdesk*

Kelsea is supposed to be Queen, but nobody takes her seriously. Her guard doesn’t obey her nor show any kind of respect towards her, and they belittle her at every turn. It was insane!

The leader of the Queen’s Guard, Lazarus aka Mace does whatever he wants, whenever he wants and doesn’t consult the queen… He disappears for days and when he shows back and Kelsea asks him where had he been. His answer is that she doesn’t need to know! Really?

Another thing she doesn’t need to know is who her father is or what kind of queen her mother was… Why? Because of a vow! Really? A vow to a dead woman who was an inept Queen is more valuable than the future of the kingdom and its people? Really people!!?

Kelsea is Queen, her mother was Queen, and her grandmother was Queen. You would think that with that many women in power women would have an important role in society, no? Wrong! Women don’t have places of power, nor are part of the guard. They cook, clean and have kids.

Kelsea is a bookaholic… You go girl! But sadly, books are a very rare and scarce, why? Because after The Crossing people “burned them for fuel or warmth”. The best part of that statement is that it was mention many times that the Tear is surrounded by forests of the famous and valuable Tear Oak. So let me get this straight, there is an oak forest, but people preferred to burn books for fuel and warmth? Yes, that makes a lot of NOT sense…

Now we come to the mother of all my problems with this book… The Crossing!! WTF is the Crossing? From where to where did they cross? Who crossed? Why did they cross? I don’t know, but it was mention 49 times!! Yes! 49 times of hearing about the Crossing and not knowing what it was. Really Mrs. Johansen, was it too difficult to explain what the hell was the Crossing? One of the few things we know about the crossing was that ALL doctors and medical equipment were on the same ship, the White Ship… and of course that ship sank…. So all that knowledge was lost. *headdesk*

But we not only have the uncertainty of the Crossing, we also have the Landing. What is the Landing? Where did they land? Who Landed? We don’t know. For what I was able to decipher this book is set in the future, like 300 years after a big event that ended the world as we now know it. What event? An apocalypse? Zombie attack? Alien invasion? Atomic bombs? Kardashians reproducing like rabbits and getting into politics? I don’t know, we just know something terrible happened and people “cross” somewhere and that is. Isn’t it great than after 448 pages you don’t know what the hell happened? Those are the holes in the Swiss cheese that it was the world building. The best part about it is the constant mention of things like electronics, ebooks, Harry Potter, The Hobbit and many more similar things and not knowing what the hell happened.

On the beginning I thought it was a medieval fantasy, but after it says it’s set in the future… but… but… so let’s catalogued this as a medieval-dystopian soup. Talking about cataloguing this book I’m surprise that in many places it's described as YA. If this book is YA I’m Angelina Jolie. The content is an adult content and it’s NOT appropriate for young readers.

I read this on an article by The New York Times and have to share:
“The reactions in-house are just as strong, said Harper editor Maya Ziv, who edited “Tearling.”“One of my colleagues read the book, loved it and left it at home. His 11-year-old daughter then read the book and loved it, too,” Ziv said.”
Really? You let an 11-year-old girl read a book where you find explicit rape scenes in every other page? Where kids are use as sacrifices in very vivid scenes and men are spitted on sharpened poles? That’s great parenting right there. *breaths in, breaths out*

Now we come to the last problem I had with this book and that’s the melting pot of stories in it. I BR-ed this book with Jessica from Rabid Reads and we couldn’t help but find similarities with other books and movies.
Kelsea is a mix-match of Elisa from Fire & Thorns series and Daenerys Targaryen from A Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones).
The world has many similarities with the world of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, even the names are similar! Dear creativity where did you go?
There is a secondary character, The Fetch, that is the twin brother of the guy from V for Vendetta, they have the same philosophy and they both wear a harlequin mask… maybe they take turns. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays The Fetch wears it and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are for V. Who knows?
The Red Queen is just a very sexual version of the Red Queen from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Every time she was on scene I was waiting for the moment she will say “off with his/her heads!”. Ok, this Res Queen’s head is normal size, so there were some differences…

Maybe you didn’t know, Warner Bros. bought the movie rights for this series and Emma Watson will not only play Kelsea, she’s also executive-producing the movie. My only comment about this is Emma Watson needs to start eating hamburgers and be ready for hours of makeup, because Kelsea is not only plain ugly… she’s also fat…. The book says it… not me.

I could go on and on and on about this book, but let’s just leave it here. Will I read second book? Right now, I’ll say Hell no! But… Here comes the “but”, if I hear great reviews, reviews in which they say that all my questions are answer in second book… Why not, I’ll read it, but for now… I’ll pass.

My Verdict: 2 ½ Paws

Other reviews Goodreads


  1. Jessica didn't care for this book either, and although her & I's reading preferences differ quite a bit, yours & I's do not, so your 2.5 star review is all that I needed to convince me to stay clear of this one. Especially the resounding hells no on reading the next installment. Have a fab weekend!

    1. This could have been a great book, but sadly... it wasn't. A nice weekend to you as well.

  2. Wait, all doctors on the same ship!? HAHA, Omg that is the most stupid thing that I have ever heard, that makes no sense. What if someone on another ship got sick, oh sorry, all the docs are on the same ship.

    Also I can get my head around this book, now I hear it's NA (or is that just cos of the NA craze), but then he let his 11 year old read it. Sigh

    1. Many things in this book didn't make any sense. :(
      I can't believe that somebody who read this book would let his/her 11 year old read it. The content of this book is for adults!

  3. Yeah, I think I'll pass. I think I enjoyed your review more then I would the book! If Emma Watson plays the part, I'll just watch the movie. Maybe it will be that rare, the movie is better than the book incident?

    1. LOL Thank you. I really wanted to like this book, there is a lot of hype surrounding it and I really thought it'll be good. Sadly...
      I'll watch the movie too, but for Emma Watson to be real as this character she needs to gain at least 20 pounds to play Kelsea... and I don't see that happening.

  4. That's so funny. I didn't even think about half of this stuff, but you're so right. Seriously--what kind of soldier gets drunk and makes noise when assassins are chasing them? *shakes head* And yeah, burning books in the middle of the woods makes NO sense . . .


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