Happy Monday Everybody ✌🏻
So I finished reading The Fate of The Tearling, by Erika Johansen. I needed a book to review for my cultural journalism class, and I had been reading it anyway, so I decided to use it. Of course, I was reading it pretty much right up to the last second as per usual, but that had a lot to do with the fact it just didn’t grab me. But, hey I got the review done and submitted on time, so happy days. (There are some minor spoilers ahead if you haven’t read any of this series yet, you have been warned 😉).
Happy wouldn’t be how I’d describe reading this book though. As you may know already, it’s the final part of a trilogy, preceded by The Queen of The Tearling and The Invasion of The Tearling. Click the links if you want to read the reviews I did on them.
The Queen of the Tearling came out in 2014 and as you can see from my review on it, I really liked it, even going as far as to say that main character Kelsea Glynn could be the next Katniss Everdeen. The book was a strong, well written story, infused with magic and interesting characters, that introduced us to Kelsea, the heir to the Tearling throne and automatic enemy of the evil Red Queen. All this took place around 300 years into the future, after the world we know today has fallen.
The first book ended on the tantalising prospect of all out war. Sadly, with the second book, The Invasion of The Tearling, Johansen chose to focus on the past and what led to the fall of our civilisation through flashbacks focusing on a new character named Lily. Thus, the anticipated invasion never comes to fruition, and the jumping back and forward through time is frustrating because is stops you from getting a footing in any story.
So by the time the final book in the series came out, I’d had one great experience and one not so great experience with the trilogy, so I was hopeful the final book would grab me again like the first one did and give the series an explosive end. Not the case unfortunately.
The Fate of The Tearling kicks off where Invasion ended. Kelsea, in an effort to save her kingdom, has surrendered to the Red Queen and lost possession of the twin sapphire necklaces that grant her magic. This time, we have flashbacks once again, but this time to when the Tearling community is being created. Rather than flashback to Lily (though we do see her in what is essentially a cameo), we flashback this time to Katie, the daughter of Dorian Rice, who was introduced in the previous novel.
The same problem persists again. The constant back and forth, rather than increase anticipation for when we return to that time period, it drags the story down so much that it feels like a chore to read rather than a joy. And nothing particularly interesting happens until the final third, and even at that it’s for a short time, and then drops again with an ending that can only be described as a cop-out.
The majority of the interesting characters that were introduced earlier in the series, such as the Mace, Brenna, Andalie, etc., are critically underused here and seem to just wander around with nothing to do. The Red Queen, who was an excellent villain in the first two books is changed beyond recognition here as well. I’m all for adding hidden depths, but the way she is written her is so cliché that it’s annoying.
There are a couple of revelations toward the end that are supposed to be a shock, but by that point you likely won’t care because you just want to get to the end. It’s annoying because the first novel in the series also had me wanting to get to the end, but with anticipation of finding out what happened. Not annoyance at the tedium.
In all honesty, this shouldn’t have been a trilogy. This story would probably have been better served if the author had taken the first book and padded it out with elements of the second and third to form one book. As it is, the trilogy consists of an excellent opening novel that is dragged down by two mediocre follow ups.
When the first book came out, it was reported that the film rights to the series were quickly snapped up, with Emma Watson signing on to star as Kelsea and also co-produce. I’d be surprised if it got made based off the last two entries in the series. But then again, what do I know, it could be a huge success. To be honest, I think it would be more suited to TV because it would allow the time to chop and change as needed.
Have you read the series? I’d love to hear your thoughts!