Book Review: 'The Invasion of the Tearling'

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Erika Johansen. Harper, 511 pp. $24.99

If I'm being totally honest, I really wanted to read this book more because I read the first book and I have a hard time leaving a series at the first book. About a year ago I reviewed "Queen of the Tearling," Johansen's series debut, and I liked it. I wasn't blown away, but it was an enjoyable read. And rarely are second books as good, or better, than their precursors. But "Invasion of the Tearling" is proof it's possible.

The biggest issue I had with "Queen of the Tearling" is the series of questions I had after reading it. Specifically, with the timeline. The story was written as if it took place in a Middle Ages-esque time, but Johansen hinted that the story may actually take place in the future. It didn't make sense.

For others out there who read the book and asked the same question, all I can say without giving away any major plot elements is this: The questions are answered. It all makes sense. Trust me.

What I appreciate about Johansen's writing and the Tearling series -- somewhat in "Queen" and more so in "Invasion" is the respect she clearly has for her readers. This book is not dumbed down, the language and themes are not simplified for a younger audience. This is a dense book; there's a lot going on. I had to double check before writing this review that it was classified as "young adult" simply because the writing is so mature. This isn't in any way to say that adults can't enjoy it. This series is one that defies age or reading level -- anyone can read and enjoy it without thinking it's meant for a different group of readers.

"Queen of the Tearling" is currently in development for a movie, produced by and possibly starring Emma Watson. This is a series that's flown pretty well under the radar at this point, but I have no doubt that if this movie gets made it's popularity will explode. If that should happen, I don't know that I'd be all that upset that yet another teenage book series is moving to the silver screen. This one is, at the very least, well written with a strong and relatable female lead, and deserves the attention.

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