Title: The Reader (Sea Of Ink and Gold #1)
Author: Traci Chee
Publication Date: September 13th 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books For Young Readers
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/3 of the Sea Of Ink And Gold Trilogy
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin Random House International (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon US || Barnes and Noble || The Book Depository || Wordery || Amazon UK || Kobo || Indigo || Google Play Store
Blurb Description: Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.
As I close this beautiful book and sit down to write this review, I’m struck by how MUCH I don’t know about this world, despite reading a book that was about four hundred pages long.
With each revelation, there were more questions, and I feel like barely any of those questions were answered, the biggest being HOW the order of the Guardians/ Readers work. We got a vague one page explanation, but I NEED MORE.
But first, let me backtrack.
Sefia lives a life of running. When she was a child, her parents taught her how to run when danger came, instead of teaching her how to play. When she was orphaned, her aunt Nin taught her the life of a criminal – always on the run.
When Nin gets taken, however, by people hooded in black, she vows to get Nin back, but first she must decipher the object that the people that took Nin were after. A book. One that is filled with characters that can she’s never seen before, but must learn to understand for her aunt’s survival depends on it.
With a boy she finds on a cage and an outlaw captain, his ship and his crew, Sephia travels between continents in search of the people who took her aunt, her parents and her life from her.
The Reader was surprisingly easy to get into. Most fantasy worlds are so complicated, and a lot of things so different that it takes you a while to get used to it, and so while it was a surprise that I could slip so easily INTO Kellana, the actual understanding it was harder.
THERE WERE JUST SO MANY QUESTIONS.
In the beginning, of course, the question of WHO WAS AFTER Sephia’s family? How could she be basing her life off of nothing but a symbol? HOW did she teach herself to read? (That should be ALMOST impossible, right?)
But most of all, since the Readers (the librarians) we read about also had The Sight, DO YOU LEARN TO READ AND MAGICALLY GET THE SIGHT? Also, WHAT IS THE ORDER OF THE GUARDIANS/ LIBRARIANS? All I understood was that there were five orders and there was a master and an apprentice (only one?) in each order and they had different tasks but UM. SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. Like HOW are apprentices picked? Do you choose the Sight by learning to read or does the Sight pick you?
AND HOW DOES THIS KNOW-IT-ALL BOOK WORK? Apparently it can tell all futures and pasts and stories but will SOMEONE ATTEMPT to explain the magic behind it. First it was described as a ‘rectangular structure’ then as ‘one that could never be finished’ but HOW DOES IT WORK. Does it erase out stories and give you what you need? Do it have the stories of EVERY PERSON EVER ALIVE? (HOW EVEN?)
MOVING ON TO THE CHARACTERS:
Putting aside ALL of my questions, the characters were the reason this book made me smile. I ADORED Archer even if he had a total of three chapters told from his viewpoint. And didn’t speak. Still, though, this trained killer and potential future army leader was something of a sweetheart living a life of guilt and learning to smile after so much death. He made my heart melt.
I loved Captain Reed as well. HE WAS SO INVESTED in the lives of his crew, in making a name for himself and in leaving a story and a life worth remembering behind but he also STRUGGLED SO MUCH with his demons and I wanted to hug him too.
Sephia was surprisingly the LEAST favourite among the main characters. NO, SERIOUSLY. She was crying, swooning, obsessing over a man involved in TRAFFICKING and MURDER that she killed in SELF DEFENSE oh and muttering the words “Answers. Redemption. Revenge.” NOT THAT WE GOT ANY ANSWERS.
The villains were MEH. Can you IMAGINE an ASSASSIN who has the opportunity to kill their target and take back the object they’ve been waiting for TWENTY years, but wait because “she reminds her of someone she used to love.”
Still. Archer and Reed. LOVE.