Uprooted

Uprooted

Book - 2015
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"Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows--everyone knows--that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn't, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose"--
Publisher: New York : Del Rey, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780804179034
Characteristics: 438 pages ;,22 cm.

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PimaLib_ChristineR Mar 23, 2019

Novik is a writer that I will always seek out going forward. I wish I had read this before Spinning Silver because she's one of a group of women YA writers that I see improving with every book right now. I'd put her right up with Laini Taylor.

While this shares story elements with Spinning Silver, Novik shows she can take what sounds like a similar plot line and spin a whole different story. Agnieszka, our heroine, begins as a simple village girl that lives in a valley next to the river Spindle. The village and the whole area is protected by "the Dragon," a wizard hundreds of years old. In return for his protection, every ten years he takes a girl of 17 to live in his tower and releases his former maid/en.

Of course, everyone assumes the girl is doing more than cleaning house and she quickly leaves for parts unknown once released from service. And the valley does need protection. A forest is encroaching on the valley and those who enter never leave, and often strange creatures called the Walkers will come out and steal a person who is too close to the forest. The way Novik presents this, Agnieszka considers this the normal way of the world. She has no knowledge beyond her few villages and the valley they live in. She knows that they are part of a kingdom, but she doesn't feel it encroach on her life in any meaningful way.

When Agnieszka is taken by the Dragon--to everyone's surprise including her own--she finds her world expanded in ways she would have never thought possible.

Novik does a beautiful job of building the world slowly, revealing an ever expanding realm as seen through the eyes of our heroine. The romance is a slow burn without a bunch of angst (thank you!!). She gives the characters a full emotional complement. Someone can be selfless and selfish, giving and unkind. They're like real people. Even the Dragon is more than a curmudgeonly old magician. He's gotten so isolated he never thinks that people would be afraid of him taking a girl into service, and if you read the book you'll find out why he does it. Far from showing Stockholm Syndrome, we find the reverse, where the Dragon finally realizes that he has scared people without meaning to and apologizes to them (in his own way).

The plot is riveting on the whole, but I did find a couple of places that dragged a bit, such as when Agnieszka is in the capital. The story moves for a bit to political machinations, which I usually enjoy, but here it was a bit confusing and we had too many pieces on the board. But that is honestly my only complaint about the entire novel.

And can we talk about the title? I loved all the meanings that Uprooted can have in this story. Agnieszka is obviously uprooted from her comfortable village life, we learn that the Dragon too has been uprooted. The fight with the forest is about uprooting, and then we learn the origins of the forest, and there is a play on the theme of uprooting there as well. To me it was as clever as the title of The Cruel Prince.

Hillsboro_RobP Mar 06, 2019

A great book with a major flaw: Falling in love with your kidnapper is bad, folks. In the age of Me Too and informed consent, I think readers are less likely to look past the Stockholm syndrome. It's NOT OKAY.

That said, the rest of the book surprised me in a lot of great ways. It's written well enough, the plot simply races along (I would not have minded two or even three books out of this. We didn't get enough Kasia or the kingdom wizards), and the conclusion was tidy and satisfying.
It's a mature, often bloody magical fantasy that's easy to just keep reading.
It has a few other flaws that might deter some readers

1. The main character is bland, makes poor choices, and can magically magic her magic out of them, probably a few too many times.
2. There's no actual dragon.
3. Time is tricky. Sometimes it speeds up at the interesting points and lingers too long on others.

That said, I still liked the book and I think, for most, it's worth a read.

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mandyozz
Jan 09, 2019

This is absolutely one of my favorite books of 2018, and perhaps one of my favorite books of all time. It's rare to read a 'one-shot' novel where the world-building is so fantastic without other novels to back it up, but this doesn't need any companion books. Probably one of my favorite romances in a fantasy novel, as well. Slow burns ahoy!

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sweetpandora13
Jan 08, 2019

Audiobook Warning!
If English is your first language, you may have a difficult time listening to this narrator. English is not her first (or probably even second) language, and she absolutely fumbles her way through this entire book. Emphasis on the wrong syllables and words, awkward pauses in the middle of sentences, all the mispronunciations; it is maddening! I can understand why the production company might think it would be good to have someone who knows the original language to help pronounce all of the Polish/Russian names, but she was a poor choice. Rather than finding a Russian who (maybe) speaks English, they should have used someone who’s first language is English that knows Russian. I deeply appreciate those who are bilingual, but listening to her stammer through this book for so long was really frustrating. The story is good, and gets better and better as the book progresses, but it’s almost painful to listen to. Save yourself the anxiety and frustration and just read this one yourself. It IS worth reading.

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EllenLudeman
Jan 04, 2019

At first I thought, oh just another beauty and the beast type of book, but man was I wrong. I almost stopped reading, thinking the plot would be the same as all those other books and I'm so glad I didn't. What an excellent book! My only complaint is that I want to learn more about the world they've created here and this is the only book I can find set in it! It is definitely worth a read!

w
WoodneathReads
Dec 26, 2018

This story has its roots in Beauty and the Beast, with a dash of Russian folklore and a sprinkle of Howl's Moving Castle. I adored the feisty heroine! --Rachel (for more of Rachel's suggestions, follow WoodneathRachel)

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Dec 16, 2018

I can't believe I missed this when it was first released, because it's so perfectly up my alley that it's kind of absurd. A girl is plucked from her village and sent to live with a cranky wizard, locked in an age-old battle with a malevolent forest. There are so many appealing elements to this book -- a fierce, feisty heroine; a they-hate-each-other-so-obvs-they-love-each-other romantic subplot; lots of cool magic; a creepy supernatural entity; and a nifty, eastern European-inspired setting. Also, reading a standalone fantasy is such a refreshing change, that would be cause enough to recommend it. But truly, I loved just about everything about this, and was incredibly sad to turn the last page.

Uprooted contains all my favorite things in a YA fantasy: a young woman put in aggravating circumstances discovers her own power and is forced to use all available will, talent, and knowledge to fight a greater evil to her community and the world as she knows it. This contribution features both a complex female friendship as well as a touch of romance as the main character is taken abruptly from her home and tries to remain true to her core values. The story is fast-paced and fully engaging–I’d open the book meaning to read a chapter and lose an afternoon. Novik has written another series about a dragon known as Temeraire but apparently Uprooted is a significant departure. I enjoyed this read immensely. (Submitted by Meghan W.)

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PayetteStAmour
Nov 10, 2018

This is quite literally the best book I've ever read. This isn't hyperbole, this isn't my regular dramatics, this isn't me being cheeky, I'm serious.

This book is simply magic in the way it pulls you in, in the way it makes you feel the characters and their motivations and their reasoning. It's entirely in first person point of view, but not once does the reader feel disconnected from the other characters. Not once is the reader left floundering and confused and completely stunned by the behaviour of another character. I mean, a good surprise is fun, and unpredictable characters are great, but their unpredictability and the surprises have to fit the narrative already set up.

And the absolute mastery of a slow-burn romantic subplot, in a way that romance happened but wasn't the thing that held it all together. It wasn't the romance that gave our protagonist Agnieszka her power, it wasn't the romance that saved the day (though of course love certainly played a part). It was, indeed, a subplot. But the most beautiful part about the romantic subplot that has haunted me since I finished the book, is that the l-word is never used. Not in the protagonist's inner monologues (because, again, this book is entirely in first person POV), not at some dramatic moment, and not even in the end, and the reason the romantic subplot is so perfect is because the reader doesn't even need them to say it. It was an "of course they're in love" moment. And not the usual sardonic "of course they're in love" moment I have while reading most fantasy novels with a Romantic Subplot TM, but one of relief, of outright swooning, it was with a contented sigh that I said "of course they're in love."

I could go on and on and on forever but I won't. Just simply? Read the book. Fall in love with the story and the characters and come away with an ache because you know in your bones you're unlikely to find a book that will quite match the mark this one has left on your soul. Or maybe I'm just being dramatic. My love for this book though remains the same.

r
rapunzel454
Oct 11, 2018

Wonderfully written, entirely captivating and completely spellbinding.

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Age Suitability

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k
KMAsh
Dec 24, 2018

KMAsh thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

p
PayetteStAmour
Nov 10, 2018

PayetteStAmour thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

r
rapunzel454
Oct 11, 2018

rapunzel454 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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Greyism
May 22, 2017

Greyism thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

t
tgabriel_0
Mar 16, 2017

tgabriel_0 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 14 and 18

m
momshoes1
Aug 21, 2016

momshoes1 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

l
lynngin
Jun 06, 2016

lynngin thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

l
LauraSteinert
Dec 22, 2015

LauraSteinert thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 16 and 99

Quotes

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AL_SARAHBR Oct 25, 2017

“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”

AL_SARAHBR Oct 25, 2017

“He wasn’t a person, he was a lord and a wizard, a strange creature on another plane entirely, as far removed as storms and pestilence.”

AL_SARAHBR Oct 25, 2017

"What an unequaled gift for disaster you have.”

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shayshortt
Oct 04, 2016

Those the walkers carried into the Wood were less lucky. We didn’t know what happened to them, but they came back out sometimes, corrupted in the worst way: smiling and cheerful, unharmed. They seemed almost themselves to anyone who didn’t know them well, and you might spend half a day talking with one of them and never realize anything was wrong, until you found yourself taking up a knife and cutting off your own hand, putting out your own eyes, your own tongue, while they kept talking all the while, smiling, horrible.

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LauraSteinert
Dec 22, 2015

"...vanishing like a statue under running water." p. 172

'Dearest," she said urgently, breathlesly, "what a brilliantly original angle [to wear a hat]--I've never seen anything like it before."
I blurted out, "Are you--are you trying to be rude?" As soon as the idea occured to me, all the odd things she'd said and done came together andmade a strange malicious sense. pp 259-260

She turned to me and said dourly, "There's always a price."
"Yes," I said, low and tired. And I didn't think we were done paying." p. 314

n
Nikkelsndimes
Aug 19, 2015

"...truth didn’t mean anything without someone to share it with; you could shout truth into the air forever, and spend your life doing it, if someone didn’t come and listen.”

Notices

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PayetteStAmour
Nov 10, 2018

Frightening or Intense Scenes: There is an attempted sexual assault/rape scene early on in the book that can be triggering for survivors if caught off-guard by it. The scene is swiftly ended by the victim of the attack and she is not "actually harmed" in any way, but the scene is quite intense at first.

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PayetteStAmour
Nov 10, 2018

Sexual Content: There is moderately graphic sexual content, but it's done "modestly" and in a way that is very healthy and full of love.

j
julia_sedai
Aug 11, 2016

Sexual Content: There is a little bit of sexual content, but the romance isn't really the focus of the book. Also there is an attempted rape although Agnieszka proves resourceful.

Summary

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shayshortt
Oct 04, 2016

Agnieszka and Kasia have been best friends throughout their childhood in the village of Dvernik, bonded by the fact that they are both Dragon-born girls. Every ten years, the Dragon—the sorcerer who protects the valley from the dark magic of the Wood—takes a seventeen-year-old girl to live with him in the Tower, and both Agnieszka and Kasia will be seventeen the year his next servant is chosen. Everyone knows that it is Kasia, beautiful, and graceful, and competent, who will be chosen. And after ten years, she will emerge from the tower rich and educated, and leave the valley forever. But when the Dragon comes to make his choice, it is not Kasia who attracts his attention.

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