Erm, as you can tell by the title of my post, I wasn't really a fan of this book. I tried, I really did. It started off well, but every time I forced myself to pick it up, I felt as if there was something...empty about it. When I finally figured out what it was I couldn't take it any more and ended up feeding it to my cats.
|Roo and Llyan think its delicious!|
The Good: The setting in this book was fantastic. The imagination in it, the description in it, all of it was just swoon worthy. The story took place in an India-like world, which is definitely something different from many fantasies I've read. It was amazing how much the author was able to bring this place to life. There was so much color in this world and so much care put into the world building from the food to the society to the theology. I would have loved to read more in this world had the story itself been different.
The Bad: The characters. Oh yes. One of the worst things to say 'the bad' about in a book is the characters and unfortunately that was the case here.
You remember how I said there was something 'empty' feeling about the book? Well, that was because the characters didn't seem real. It was because they were too perfect. I can't believe a writer fell into this trap, but within the first 68 pages, I can't think of an actual flaw, or an actual human characteristic of either of the two characters.
The main characters, sisters Diribani and Tana, have fallen on hard times, but both of them are consistently selfless, loving, kind, patient, etc, etc. Seriously. I never read an action or thought that made either of them seem anything less than angels, which, as a result, made them incredibly boring. So much so that I honestly didn't care what happened to them at all. And when I realized that, I didn't care about the rest of the book because you kinda have to care about them to want to keep reading.
Their perfectness also caused a major plot point to not make sense. Toads and Diamonds is a 'twist' on the toads and diamonds fairy tale, in which a fairy disguised as an old woman, waits at a well and asks two daughters for something to drink. The kind daughter is blessed with diamonds and flowers falling from her mouth, while the proud one is blessed with snakes and toads. In this book, a similar thing happens only the concept is, in this world, the diamonds are more of a curse, and the snakes, which are sacred and are the favorite creatures of a god, are the blessing. Dirabani gets the diamonds and flowers and Tana gets the snakes and toads.
Now here is what didn't make any sense. At the well, the reason Dirabani gets diamonds and flowers from her mouth is because, when she gives the goddess in disguise water and the goddess grants her a gift, the thing Dirabani wishes for is beauty. Now, this makes absolutely no sense. We've been shown throughout the book that Dirabani is kind, noble, and pretty selfless so this sudden wish for beauty of all things really just comes out of no where. I simply couldn't buy that that character would ask for that and it seemed like such a gaping flaw that it was really hard the take the rest of the book seriously.
Now we come to my issues with Tana. Who I really don't like. Honestly I want to smack her into next Tuesday. She's the more serious, not a pretty sister, who is just as selfless, but has the annoying habit of internalizing how she's not good enough and all the things she's failed at, which of course makes her seem like a better person. However, she does it all the time, with everything, and it makes her ridiculously annoying. "Wah wah wah I'm Tana and I suck at everything despite the fact I'm saving my family's forturnes, wah wah wah. I'm just going to whine about how terrible I am so that the readers hopefully see this as a fault instead of accenting how perfect I really am!"
The thing that drove me over the edge with Tana, and with the whole book, was when she went to the well and offered water to the goddess in disguise. The goddess in disguise says, and I quote: "I see a capable nature...a warrior's spirit and a loyal heart, worthy of a reward."
Then the goddess blesses her with snakes and frogs. And then all Tana does is complain about how she's cursed and she deserves to be cursed because she's not as good as Dirabani. WTF. Stupid girl did you not hear what the goddess just point blank told you?? Are you not paying attention to how snakes are her favored animal and so having them drop from your lips is a huge blessing?? Gah! How can you be so obtuse!! At this point, you're just choosing to be self deprecating. If you're going to be such a moron, Tana, I really want nothing to do with you.
Yes, I know I know, a plot point so the readers won't see the twist of how the apparent curse is really a blessing and vice versa. Well I'm sorry, it didn't work because its bloody obvious. And have characters be so blind is truly unbelievable and honestly a bit contrived.
Perhaps I am being a little harsh, because I stopped reading at page 69, but I really couldn't take it any more. And its sad because the author is clearly a solid writer, and her world was amazing, her characters though, needed work.
And now, I'm going to leave this post with my kitties. They were not cooperating with the whole book eating thing. Roo is clearly trying to play with that battery while Llyan is distracted by a feather.