Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
ARC received from Random House Children’s via Netgalley for a fair review.
Publish Date: February 27, 2018
It is my policy to not give a star rating to a book that I DNF.
“We are adrift, and the thinnest breeze may blow us where it will.”+
As Tess was growing up it became exceedingly evident that she was the bad child in her family. After a series of situations that find her on the bad side her family decides to send her to a nunnery. Tess decides to take her future to the road instead.
+Quote was taken from an advanced reader copy. The final version may changed or removed it
I only made it to 32% before I decided I just didn’t have it in me to push any farther, which is actually farther than I usually give since I tend to quit at about 20%. I didn’t want to be put into the position where I was forcing myself to read. Because honestly, that just takes the fun out of the whole experience.
This book didn’t really feel very YA to me. I think a big part of that was the extensive vocabulary that was used in the writing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think YA readers are a bunch of morons with vernacular that would fit a child’s. However, I did find myself highlighting a lot of words such as: salubrious, nomenclature, grandiloquently, bloviations. I personally love learning new words, unfortunately I felt the use of these large words actually bogged down the text quite a bit. So much time was spent describing how Tess was basically screwed that there really wasn’t much forward movement in the story. With that in mind I think it just added to the fact that I thought the story was just plain boring.
The storytelling itself was rather disjointed. Because of the nature of how Tess’s biggest mistakes (I’m assuming) are revealed we are given partial history as she continues to carry on in a selfish, yet somehow still self sacrificing way.
I originally thought that I would pick up the Seraphina books after I finished the ARC. I am now disinclined to read them at all. The style of writing just isn’t for me.
The World Building
I saw that it wasn’t exactly necessary to read the Seraphina books prior to this, but I feel like a lot of the world wasn’t exactly explained in a way that I could understand it. I had a hard time visualizing creatures and surroundings because of their obscurities. While I was reading I felt like it was assumed that you would have had already read those books. Because of this I had a hard time mentally jumping into the story and seeing it through Tess’ eyes.
I had a very hard time getting behind and supporting Tess. The prologue lead me to believe she would be a curious and fierce character. What I was later introduced to was an adult Tess who did things to help her sister, but only because she had put herself in a situation that left her with little options. Please do not take this in the way that I support the type of society that she lived in, however, if you are within a society like that it should is understood that she should have known the consequences of her actions. I am a firm believer in positive vocal reinforcement, so I can say that I do not support how her mother did educated, disciplined, or chastised her. Still, I could not get behind the fact that she continued to badger the problem by her excessive drinking and her use of it as an escape from her mother. It all made me rather sad for her lack of self preservation and pride for what she could be.