The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Disappointing execution of a disappointing concept.
I wanted to like this book. And I thought I did for about two first chapters… until the language and the way the story was told begun turning increasingly disheartening. Another good idea utterly betrayed by a very pure execution.
This book fails spectacularly regarding immersiveness and world-consistency. First, I kept feeling that more and more of geographical and historical descriptions felt somehow wrong, but decided that since it’s a fictional version of the world I shouldn’t care so much… But then I almost DNFed (I had to put it away for couple days) when I reached phrase “asset to be liquidated”. Because, seriously? Did the author even try to care about how her protagonist sounded? This and many more very modern phrases and thoughts, jump out from pages, break the immersion completely, and make it impossible to believe in the setting of 1280 Asia. I don’t know if it is carelessness, laziness, or if American YA writers are simply expected to write books like they can only be read by young girls who only care for the cheesy girly feelings and ‘unconscious cuddling,’ and not about things like writing language, consistency, and believability… (It isn’t too difficult to type ‘bullet’ into a search engine and look up the etymology and first known use, is it? Though I suppose something like common sense should tell you it’s not very appropriate for 1280 even without having to look it up… And neither is “yep” Or phrases like “thanks but no thanks”.) But it made me very sad and by the second half I was kind of skimping through a lot of text, instead of trying to enjoy submerging myself in the story (because I knew I wouldn’t be able to, and only would turn more irritated by finding other examples of questionable phrasing…)
Also, the summary is misleading. “Ghosts” have practically nothing to do with the story at all, and their very short “appearance” makes place only at the very end and felt very forced and useless. Otherwise there are only memories and dreams.
Lastly, the least it could have done is follow through with its silliness and have some sort of unexpected positive ending. But noooo, it does the most boring thing of sticking with the unpleasant ending of the original story, which became the tip on the mountain of my disappointment with this book… (The author says she was outraged with it, and than just repeats it in her own work word by word. I don’t see the logic.)