Author: Traci Chee
Release Date: September 13th, 2016!
Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learnes, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.
My Review!A world without books sounds like actual hell, but that’s the world in which the characters of The Reader live in. This world, though, was so rich and vibrant as I read. I had to sometimes just slow down and ABSORB what I was reading so I didn’t miss anything important. It did take a bit of time to get situated with the story. It’s told in interesting POVs; tall tales, different characters with different voices who all know different things. It’s unique, to be sure, but it can definitely make you fall out of the story if you’re not paying attention or you don’t like a POV you’re in (this only happened to me once, I didn’t get why this person had to have a POV really). But by the end, you see how everything works out. And, by the end, I had grown to love so many of the characters and I could’ve read another 400 pages, I didn’t want it to stop! But it did, and now I have to wait over a year for the sequel, and I’m going to SO regret this decision. IT WAS WORTH IT, THOUGH.
The main character is Sefia. She’s been on the run since she was a little kid, when she lost her parents and needed to stay hidden. Her Aunt Nin is the only person she has left, and someone who has basically taught her all that she knows. So when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia follows. After a really big time jump (I’m talking a YEAR), the story REALLY gets going. Sefia is a strong, fierce girl who has kept herself alive for so long, and who will never stop hunting for the one person she can’t lose. Her grief is there, so present, but she doesn’t let that slow her down. She’s near ruthless in what she does throughout the story. Survival is key, but not as much as her getting answers for who took Nin and why. It all has something to do with this book she’s got, this paper and ink that she teaches herself how to read while she wanders, and she knows this is the reason why her parents died and why Nin was taken. And for so long, it’s just been her, so she doesn’t really know how to love anymore. But when she stumbles upon a boy locked in a cage, she takes a leap and finds a partner in life. Someone who will have her back; someone who will forgive and understand and who will not leave her side by his own choice.
I fucking loved Archer. He is so good and kind and wonderful. He is quiet, but super perceptive. And he had such an innocence about him that made him look at the world with different eyes than others. You wouldn’t expect it, given his past and how he grew up, tossed into fighting rings and coming out a winner with blood on his hands. Blood that he can’t easily wash away, but with Sefia, there’s no judgment. There is only curiosity, warmth, and understanding. She knows what it means to survive, and to do things when you have no choice, to always be on guard. I loved their friendship. I loved the strength that they gave each other. And I loved that, even though Archer didn’t talk, his actions spoke so much louder than words ever could. Especially in one scene, where he’s forced to go back to the life he never wanted to return to, when he was promised he wouldn’t have to ever again. But he did, and he would do whatever he could, to help Sefia find Aunt Nin. To help her understand why her parents died and why this book is so important. He is that loyal, that forgiving, that caring. Even when Sefia didn’t deserve it, but well, she was also such a light in his life when he’d lived so long in the dark, that I can’t even be that mad. The best part of their relationship was how they had each other’s backs through everything. I could’ve been equally happy if they had stayed just friends, but I love the beginnings of a romance I saw throughout the book.
There were other characters I really loved, most especially the crew of the Current of Faith. Not just tall tales after all, Sefia and Archer stumble across the infamous pirates they’ve been reading about in her book. Even though they’re not the greatest people ever, I loved their banter and the ship scenes. I loved the stories that Sefia read to Archer about them, all their adventures and deeds, but also their recklessness. Captain Reed is a formidable character; restless, dangerous, but also kind. He and his crew have chased the most impossible of quests all for a bit of glory. All to be remembered one day, since books are not real and stories are carried through mouths and generations. I LOVED these chapters, and thought they added such a richness to the book. Like I said, the multiple POVs took some time to get used to, and until the end, you’re not even sure how they all weave together. But it WORKS. And I didn’t even catch twists I probably should have. I’m usually good at this shit, but this kept me so hooked that I hardly wanted to stop, and I definitely didn’t pay much attention to the hints here and there. I’m still not sure how it all fits together, and where the sequel will go, but damn it I want to know so badly! The Reader was a uniquely, rich fantasy that felt like something new in this vast genre. I LOVED IT! I want MORE.