This is not a book review, but if it were it would be a review of The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.
You may recall that in my last post I committed to reading four recent (in a loose sense of the word) fantasy novels in February.
Easy, right? It’s not uncommon for me to finish a book in a day or two, so four in a month gives me 22 days’ leeway. Except February is a short month, which takes me down to 20 days, and I didn’t start until the 7th, so 14 days.
I also have two books I hope to beta read this month, which takes much longer than normal reading, so say 5 days apiece, and I’m down to 4 days’ leeway.
I’m happy to say I finished reading the first book on my list, The Star-Touched Queen, on Friday. It took 4 days, or 2 over budget, which takes me down to 2 days’ leeway.
And I suspect it might be the shortest of the lot.
Never mind. If I don’t finish all the books this month I’ll run into next month. You can still win any of the books (did I mention that?), so no need to panic.
What I learned so far
I knew I’d learn something from this reading challenge, and what I’ve learned so far is that I prefer to read at my own rate, not to meet an arbitrary deadline. It makes reading, which should be pleasurable, a little too much like schoolwork.
I also learned that I’m not great at finishing books. I did finish The Star-Touched Queen, but if I hadn’t publicly said I would I probably wouldn’t have.
Finally, I learned that opportunity cost is real. Yes, I can find time to read fantasy each day, but it means doing less of other things such as sleeping, reading non-fiction that has me excited, and writing. Sometimes it’s worth the cost, other times it’s not.
My not-review of The Star-Touched Queen
This is not a review because I’m not going to try to be objective, though I might write an actual review on Amazon later. This is just my reaction to the book.
I can’t recall how The Star-Touched Queen ended up on my list. I think it was a Twitter recommendation (though not one specifically directed at me).
It had one strike against it right from the start: it’s written in first person. I don’t like first person. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I prefer third. It could be that first-person narrators often come across as self-obsessed, or that I find it harder to become the character if I’m incessantly reminded that it’s you, not me.
In any case, that’s one strike against.
The language of the book is lush and fantastical, like the world it describes. There’s so much to explore in both the writing and the world.
In a way this is a wonderful thing. But it also made me feel, at least in the first half, that there wasn’t much room left for character or story. The main character felt like a blank slate carted around to show off the world, and the plot felt slight and incidental.
Some people might find the prose purple, and at times I did, but mostly it was one of the reasons to keep reading.
The world was delightfully imaginative and detailed. It would have made an excellent setting for a story.
That’s one for prose and one for world, and one against for lack of plot and character in the first half.
So we’re at par.
The second half picked up, plot-wise and in terms of character. I’m not entirely convinced the plot made sense, but so many glass trees, fey fruits, and strange demons were flashed at me that I didn’t notice.
One strike for.
And they lived happily ever after, which I approve of, so another strike for.
Overall, the book came out two points ahead, which means almost precisely nothing except that I read it, enjoyed aspects of it, and may or may not read it again.
It does make me think I need more lightning in my book, though.
Have you read The Star-Touched Queen? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you want to?
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