Sovay - Celia Rees
I just want to apologize firstly because this review is not very kind, and I don't like posting this kind of review but I'm . . . doing it anyway. Sovay has an excellent premise: a girl dressing as a highwayman to test the strength of her lover's devotion while her family is caught up in the French revolution. First, I have to mention the characters, because they are the heart of the story and drive the plot (or, at least, they're supposed to). Sovay is a pure Mary-Sue. She's perfect, beautiful, intelligent, willful, etc. etc. etc. Somehow every male who's not The Bad Guy falls immediately in love with her. She has probably 8 different love interests in the story, and she chooses one introduced in the last 8th of the book, who's as characterless as her. The romance between them is rushed and without purpose. There are a hundred different characters introduced at once (and at length) that add absolutely nothing vital to the plot. One of the biggest crimes here is Gabriel. He's introduced in the beginning of the story, and I felt like he should have some importance to the story. But nope, he's forgotten. Gets captured by The Bad Guy (who's just SO Bad that I won't even acknowledge how terrible I thought he was as an antagonist) and then forgotten. Does he escape? Is he happy? Apparently he still loves Sovay (that's just mentioned, it's never actually show, but whatever) so I can assume he doesn't have that happy of an ending. And he really wanted to be part of the revolution, with his whole being, so what does Celia Rees do? Lock him up until the revolution's over and don't mention him! Yay! Furthermore, the characters are just devices of the plot. Do they drive any action? No. Is the plot formed by their choices/fears/aspirations? No. It's all so contrived. Example: in what I thought was supposed to be a climactic scene, when everyone is looking at The Bad Guy, ready to catch him, suddenly Rees mentions a thought or two of Sovay and then suddenly: Whoa! Where did The Bad Guy go? Dangit, we lost him! Um . . . everyone was looking at him. . . just because Rees takes us into one person's thoughts doesn't mean everyone else in the scene is so diverted. Come on! And then The Bad Guy proceeds to escape via random hot air balloon. What? Secondly, I'm going to address Rees's writing because it was the second most offending thing about this book. She writes to create the most tedious scenes that evoke no emotion other than boredom. And she repeated things constantly. It got on my nerves. I can't even explain how annoyed I was. She would write that Sovay rode all day, describing the ride and the hardships she endured during it, then once Sovay reached an inn, she would mention how "Sovay was very tired, given she had been riding all day long very hard and stuff." Okay. I got that from the FIRST PASSAGE. And she does this over. And over. She writes emotions outside of the dialogue all the time. "She was nervous because . . . " "This made him angry . . . " "Then she became afraid, but showed her anger instead . . ." etc. She never SHOWS an emotion. Never. Not a single example comes to mind. In the end, she tells us about the characters so we could recite how everyone else in the story supposedly feels about them, but as a reader I don't even know how to describe how I feel about the character. Was Sovay willful? Well of course because it was only mentioned in every single dialogue. But did she prove this? Um . .. wait . . . gimme a sec. . . No. And point of view. EVERYBODY gets a point of view, even the most pointless of characters who are only shown once to the reader. Example: "That's enough, Lydia," Mrs. Crombie said sharply. She was annoyed with the girl for making eyes at Gabriel and it was not for the likes of her to comment on visitors." Okay, the horrible adverb made even horrible after the dialogue tag aside, Mrs. Crombie is a character mentioned maybe once that I remember in the book; here actually, only remembered because it annoyed me so much. I really don't care what Mrs. Crombie thinks about Lydia. Her comment is enough. I don't need "sharply" and I don't need the explanation for why she said what she did when it was made ABSOLUTELY CLEAR. Why even bother entering the head of this Mrs. Crombie if this is the only time she's in the book basically and the only time we ever actually enter her head? Which brings me the point to more of her tiring explanations. Every character mentioned in the book suddenly needs a half a page (or more) of backstory. Why? First off, it's confusing. And secondly, it's pointless. I really don't care about the backstory of this mentioned character and I hate knowing more than the main character suddenly. She meets this woman. Oh, she seems nice. Backstory: she's actually a villainess who's working with The Bad Guy. Then it goes back into the story. Wow. Way to kill all of the potential suspense that could have happened. Rees also has this infuriating habit of switching from summary to scene ALL THE TIME. There's some dialogue, then she'll write "She asked him if he would like some tea" or something like that, instead of just continuing with the dialogue, "Would you like some tea?" (this is just an example outside of the text). Thirdly, the plot itself. So twisted, so pointless. Things happen for no reason other than just to happen. I could go on more, but I've just realized how far I've already gone and think it's best if I just stop here. I don't like to be rude, but I just couldn't help myself on this one.