Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Feather Bound Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Sarah Raughley
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Pages: 304

(An advanced review copy was provided by the publisher).

I rarely ever don’t finish a book.  There are only a few books I haven’t finished reading in my life, and none of those books fall into the realm of fantasy and science fiction.  Reading Feather Bound really put my book finishing ideology to the test, as I found myself wanting this book to end after the first chapter.

Make no mistake Sarah Raughley has writing skill, but it feels wasted in an overly cliched and predictable plot. There is no significant worldbuilding to accompany the plot, and additionally the main character Deanna is not likeable … and based off her moral stances and what she’s fighting against … she should be VERY likeable.

People who enjoy Paranormal Romance or Young Adult Books may be attracted to Feather Bound, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking.  Personally, I was not a fan of the story.

In Feather Bound there are swans, which are people who grow feathers.  These people make up 3% of the world’s population and they can be enslaved if someone gets a hold of their feathers.

17 year old Deanna attends the funeral of her wealthy friend Hyde’s father.  When Hyde, who was long believed to have been dead, shows up at the funeral, he begins to rekindle an old romance with Deanna. Additionally Hyde is tasked with running the massive company he inherited from his father.

Hyde makes a lot of enemies when he takes over the company and one of his enemies takes advantage of Deanna’s biggest secret and uses it to force her to work against Hyde whom she’s begin to develop romantic feelings for.

So why read this book?  Because the book synopsis/back cover compares this story to A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It specifically reads like this:
“Feather Bound is a dark debut reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez’s A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, and the twisted truth behind the fairy tale of Cinderella.”
Feather Bound reads nothing like the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  The only thing you could say that makes them similar is that this book uses magical realism, but this blend of magical realism is nothing like Marquez’s … so why mention his name in the first place. Feather Bound is a story about human sex trafficking (yes you read that right), which bares no resemblance to A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings which is a story about religion.  I know back covers can be misleading, but in this case it’s much closer to a lie than it is to truth.

I honestly I find the comparison to Marquez does more harm to the new author simply because at this point expectations for the book are going to be unbelievably high. The back cover is mentioning a new author alongside the name of one of the greatest writers of fiction in the past 100 years … if I were an author I wouldn’t want the added pressure.

A lot of problems arise in this story.  One of the biggest issues is the lack of worldbuilding, which makes it hard to get a sense of place in the plot.  There’s almost no historical development for swans or what its place is in human history, and there’s only vague explanations for what having swan feathers can do for a swan person.  The plot was also very predictable.  I found myself predicting every major event in the book well before it happened.  This feels like your typical cliched romance from start to finish.

I found myself asking this question a lot during the story: how much control does a person have over a swan once they have their feathers? This is never explicitly answered, which is alright, except that the author uses it as an excuse to delay critical aspects of character communication until they’re needed for the climax of the book.

Not all characters are meant to be liked. Sometimes they’re morally ambiguous or they do things that are extremely flawed.  Deanna is trying to find love in her young life, and she fights against human sex trafficking, and most importantly she is “mostly” a morally sound character.  In other words this a character that the reader should be solidly behind.  Yet when I read this book, I did not like her at all.

This is largely due to her inability to make intelligent decisions and because she chooses not to communicate important issues to people whom she knows will help her.  She also has a negative attitude that never seems to lighten up as the story progresses, and her complaining really becomes burdensome.

I was not fan of the idea of using magical swans as a metaphor for human sex trafficking.  Slavery and human trafficking is still a major problem in today’s world, and it is one of the most reprehensible crimes that a person or institution can commit.  That being said the analogy between trafficking and swans never sat well with me at all during this reading.  The author never says anything offensive, but the comparison never felt appropriate.

I will say the author was consistent with the writing of her characters, and that she is definitely a skilled writer. Let me be clear and say she is not Garcia Marquez skilled. But the other issues in the book drown out that aspect, and overall I found myself reading a story I didn’t like.

Score: 2.9

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