My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
There was a lot of good but more issues than I can ignore to give a 4. All issues will likely improve in the next books. I’ll definitely be reading on.
It’s review time.
There are a lot of people that absolutely love Falling Kingdoms. I can definitely see why, but that doesn’t mean that I can completely look past the flaws and embrace it like everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, I found the plot intricate and intriguing, but I also found some aspects infuriating. I’ll be continuing on with the series with the hope that the issues that I had will be resolved in the future.
Some characters have secrets. I get it, I really do. However how those secrets are handled in the text needs to be done with finesse. That was completely lacking in this story. Time and time again, characters would flaunt that they had a secret. The big problem was the repetition. If you weren’t sure that the character had a secret, you were bashed over the head until you understood. Cleo had a secret damn it. She may not have wanted to let us the reader know what that secret was, but she wanted you to know that she had one. It grew irritating reading nearly a hundred pages of Cleo constantly mentioning that she had a secret that forced her to behave a certain way without getting any hint as to what it was. The way she constantly talked about it I assumed that it was really world changing. It wasn’t and all that annoying hype led to a truly disappointing reveal.
At first I thought that the handling of Cleo’s secret was unique to her character. She was a character who was initially self obsessed. Nope, the issue wasn’t just with the portrayal of Cleo’s character, but clearly an issue of the writing because the same situation happened with Lucia. Thankfully, the secret didn’t linger very long with Lucia, we’d also been given clues and hints since before she even realized she had a secret. It was still annoying in the writing to constantly read that they had a secret. It could have been handled better with the use of allusion and subtlety. One doesn’t need to be repeatedly told there is a secret to understand there is a secret being kept.
Another major issue I had was the insta-love. In this I refer to Cleo and Theon. The pair really worked together, but we didn’t get much of them. You could sense that something was building between them. There was this intensity and care at least from Theon’s end. It could have been something great to watch develop. Instead one minute they are sharing occasional tension filled glances and the next they are madly in love. We never got to see their relationship build. There were no conversations of meaning. It just didn’t feel believable.
Now there were definitely things I really enjoyed particularly the complexity of the characters. So often in stories we are given characters that are outright good or outright bad. In most these overtly good or bad characters are often given either flaws or redeeming qualities to signify that they are more complex. However, in this story the characters felt like they were real. They were mixes of good and bad. Only one character felt like an outright villain and I enjoyed that.
The actual development of the plot worked really well for me. Everything was constantly moving forward. People took action and made progress on their plans. Wrenches were thrown at them and they dodged or suffered the pain. However something was constantly happening that moved the plot forward. As a result there were no real sections that felt like they lulled. That constant movement worked for the plot because there were so many characters that anyone stagnating would have dragged the entire story down.
While I mentioned that the complexity of the characters was well executed that doesn’t mean I totally liked all of the characters. Cleo turned out to be the character I had the most problems with. You could tell that from the way she was written that while I wasn’t supposed to like all the decisions that she made, she was supposed to be the character that you at least liked. I didn’t though. I found her irritating and selfish in the way she thought and acted. She was childish and often rather petty. Somehow Cleo made a turn for me. It wasn’t because she decided to do something for someone other than herself, though that was likely a contributing factor. Instead, I started to like her because she began to suffer and rather than give up, she continued to fight. Life started coming at her hard and she came back at it with a fierceness.
On the topic of fierce characters, my favorites in the novel were actually Jonas and Lucia. Jonas is a victim, but refuses to see himself that way. He was in a position of no power and did everything he could to change that. He used both cunning and strength to rise to a place where he could make a difference. All the while he never forgot his motivation. Yes, Jonas could be so abrasive that it was almost off-putting, but it was his drive and heart that made me care for him. As far as Lucia goes, she came off as the quintessential princess. She was proper, but not without some bite. While we don’t know much about what she will be able to do in the future we know she is incredibly important. Even more than that, she does it with a fire within her. When she is passionate about something you can feel it.
Finally, I want to touch on the last main POV that we had in the novel, Magnus. So many people seemed to pledge their love for Magnus and I couldn’t seem to figure out why. He wasn’t sweet and heartwarming. Nor was he edgy or cruel. He just was. He was a good guy that may have occasionally made bad decisions. However, there was a sudden shift for his character later in the novel. While we got to see his rationalization for this I still don’t fully get the change. Also based on his actions I don’t fully believe he completely believes in his change. Maybe it will get better in the next books, but right now Magnus is very much a middle of the road character. I don’t hate him nor do I love him. He’s just there.
So ultimately I really enjoyed this book even though it had some problems for me. I’m looking forward to seeing how things will play out next in this world.