Author: Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles, #2
Publication: March 13th 2012
Hardcover, 596 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
Does this book really need another glowing review? A book with 225 reviews on GoodReads alone and 4.62 average rating? What can it possibly change? Maybe not much, but yes, I believe that it does.
Melina Marchetta is extraordinary. Duh. I won’t sing her praise in this review. Almost everyone who ever gave one of her books a chance knows how brilliant she is. Writing about it here seems unnecessary and a little bit silly since it’s the one thing we all agree on, regardless of our favorite among her books or her characters. And that’s just it, there is no doubt about it: we all have plenty to choose from and we love them all, but we all have a favorite – that Melina Marchetta book we simply cannot live without. My favorite is Froi of the Exiles.
You can try, if you so wish, to convince me that Froi of the Exiles is not a real person. You can tell me that Finnikin, Perri, Phaedra or Lady Beatriss are all products of someone’s imagination – a brilliant someone perhaps, but just characters nevertheless. You can talk at me until you turn blue, you can offer any number of convincing arguments, you can even bring Melina Marchetta herself to tell me to my face that she made them all up (I doubt she would, though), and I still won’t believe you. Here’s a fact: I’ve never seen my best friend in the flesh, and nobody’s trying to convince me that she’s not real. So why wouldn’t Froi be? I just know that he’s somewhere right now, counting to ten before opening his mouth.
The protectiveness I feel towards him after reading “his” book is something I hadn’t anticipated. I went from despising him in Finnikin of the Rock, just tolerating him later on, to loving every little thing about him, the strengths and the many flaws. But I cannot count Froi among my fictional crushes. His story and his raw vulnerability appeal to my maternal instincts and nothing else. (Finnikin is another matter entirely, though, but if I could choose, I’d choose Trevanion.) And in this book, he finally met his match.
Where can I even begin with Quintana of Charyn? First of all, who the hell is she? I still don’t know. Isaboe was so easy to love, but Quintana is nothing like her. Where Isaboe is fierce, Quintana is avoidant. Where Isaboe is kind, Quintana is far more likely to bite your head off. But I’m grateful for the difference between them. With this, Marchetta showed that she is perfectly capable of creating not just easily acceptable heroines, worthy of admiration by anyone’s standards, but also unpolished and infinitely crazy girls you’d die for in a second.
I won’t lie to you, there were events in this book I was able to predict. But the way they were done, the way secrets were brought to light and my emotional reactions to them exceeded all my expectations. There were parts I had to reread three times in order to fully process them and move on. There were parts where I had to stop for a while and do something else because they were too painful. There were moments that made me laugh out loud and there were parts that left me with my mouth open in sheer and utter amazement. There was a bit of everything, except for a part that left me indifferent. That I have yet to find in one of Marchetta’s books.
Now this is where I should write something short and witty to conclude this