YA Book Review: Roar

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Posted: November 2, 2017

Category: Staff Picks

Roar book cover: a realistic painting of the back of a pale young woman with blonde hair standing on a cliff. She is wearing a white dress with daggers strapped to her back.In a world where storms are sentient and roam the wilds, only the Stormlings—the ruling elite—have the ability to dissipate the storms and prevent them from destroying cities. Aurora is the sole heir to the Pavan throne, but ruling a kingdom is the least of her worries. She doesn’t possess any stormling magic and is unable to protect her kingdom, a secret that no one else can know. In order to protect her people, Aurora’s mother has arranged for her to marry Cassius, a powerful stormling prince from Locke. But when Cassius and his family arrive in Pavan, Aurora begins to suspect all is not as it seems. One night she follows him to a hidden market where storm magic is bought and sold. Seeing an opportunity to protect her kingdom herself, Aurora signs up...

Cora Carmack has done an excellent job of world building—the world felt lived in, the magic was believable, and character’s actions reflected their experiences living in a world where dangerous storms were a common occurrence. Rather than using large chunks of exposition to describe the world, much of how it operates is narrated by or learned through Aurora’s experiences throughout the story. While this route can create clunky dialogue, it feels natural with Aurora, as she is naïve to how life is outside of her sheltered upbringing, allowing us to learn alongside her.

The novel is well-paced and engaging until the last 20 pages, which were incredibly rushed as Aurora returns to Pavan. While the cliff-hanger ending serves to set up the sequel, it felt like the book ended too early and that the author had run out of steam. More resolution or a longer ending sequence was needed.

As Roar features an heir, political intrigue is a given. It is well done in that we feel Aurora’s struggle with the burden of being an heir that couldn’t protect her kingdom. However, the consequences of Aurora’s faked kidnapping—her mother’s incapacitation with grief and the Locke family seizing control of the kingdom—feel forced and far-fetched. Where are the Queen’s advisors or 2nd in command? Why are Pavan’s nobility taking orders from the Lockes? It just doesn’t make sense.

Overall, this is a well-written fantasy novel that is engaging and the storm aspect is something that hasn’t been seen in fantasy novels before. While there are certain aspects that are frustrating from a reader’s perspective, I look forward to the sequel to see how Aurora’s journey ends.

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