By Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Candlewick Press
To Sum It Up: As young boys, Finnikin and his friends Prince Balthazar and Lucian pledge to protect the kingdom of Lumatere, sealing their vow with their blood. Little do they know that Lumatere is about to be torn apart during the five days of the unspeakable. The tragedy begins with the brutal murder of the royal family, followed by the seizure of the throne by the dead king's cousin. Finally, a curse traps everyone within Lumatere’s walls forever. Those outside become exiles, often dying in fever camps.
Ten years later, Finnikin receives a message that Balthazar is alive. Together with his mentor, Sir Topher, Finnikin journeys west, where they meet a mysterious novice named Evanjalin. She claims that she can walk the sleep of those still inside Lumatere and can lead them to Balthazar. At first Finnikin is wary of her assertions, but he gradually begins to believe that returning home to Lumatere might not be impossible.
Review: This book. Was. Amazing. I’m still recovering. It is hands down the best book that I’ve read so far this year. There were bawl-your-eyes-out-sad moments. There were triumphant moments. I laughed. I almost cried. I need to find a copy of the next book in the series ASAP.
Where do I begin with the gushing? Finnikin of the Rock is a superb piece of epic YA fantasy. Once you enter this world, you don’t want to leave. Ever. The writing is phenomenal; it captivates you from the first sentence of the prologue and never flags. The characters, especially the female ones, are masterfully crafted. They’re so real that it’s very easy to forget that they’re fictional. The dialogue is sharp, fluid, and vibrant. If I hadn’t been so obsessed with finding out what happened next, I would have taken more time to write down my favorite quotes.
It’s really difficult for me to choose what I liked best about the book. If I absolutely had to, I’d say it was the relationships between the characters. Whether the bonds are romantic, familial, or of friendship, they are all depicted with stunning depth and realism. There’s no love-at-first-sight here, which suited me just fine. Even when characters are reunited after years apart, the scenes are not always fairytale perfect; they can be awkward and tense, too. I liked this unflinching approach. The relationships in this book are refreshingly complex instead of cookie-cutter simple.
Although I adored all of the characters, I have to give Evanjalin a special mention. Throughout the book, she kept me guessing about what motivated her actions. I loved how she went from a seemingly meek novice who had taken a vow of silence to a fierce, determined, kick-ass heroine. Evanjalin is a shining example of how to write a strong, female literary character. I really admire Marchetta for that.
Even if you’re not into fantasy, Finnikin of the Rock is an engrossing, inspiring, and sometimes heartbreaking read with a fully realized world, a brilliantly plotted story, and unforgettable characters.
All in All: I originally borrowed this from the library. A few chapters into the book, I knew that I had to own a copy of this, so I bought one. It now sits happily on my bookshelf, where it will always have a place.