Elissa Sussman – Stray

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“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

STRAY is the first in a collection of intertwined stories, all set in a world where magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict doctrine called The Path. A cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Wicked, with a dash of Grimm and Disney thrown in, this original fairy tale will be released October 7th, 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins.

This wasn’t a BAD book. It’s just – some things could’ve been better. It kind of left a feeling like “meh” in my mouth.

The whole setting was rather confusing. In fact, I’m not sure what kingdom or city or town the characters lived in. The political system was sparsely talked about, with a huge monarch king ruling over several other nobles that have the title of “king.” Aislynn’s father falls under that category. What else about the society though? There was one point in the book where our mc Aislynn was surprised that a male could do magic. This wasn’t touched upon at all beforehand, so that was a huge revelation for me.

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In fact, their whole society is a big sexist oxymoron. Girls are so valued that they get their own fairy godmother and advisor, but at the same time they’re restricted and can only abide by their advisor and/or husband’s (both males) “advice.” Even though only females know magic.

So basically in the story staying on The Path is life and Aislynn is accused of straying from The Path because she is corrupt in having uncontrollable magic, thus the title. She becomes Redirected from her princessy things to fairy godmother things where her magic is still uncontrollable. (In the book you want to be a princess and NOT a fairy godmother.)

Until towards the middle of the book, when Aislynn finds that she can randomly (magically!) do magic properly. And at the most convenient of times, too. (She also goes through the “conceal don’t feel” thing and she channeled her magic to her arms/legs or something, leaving scars. I call that being f*cking emo but ok)

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There wasn’t really a plot to the story until towards the end of the book. And even then it was kind of lame. Our main character meets random new characters who accompany her on a really random journey (that really had no reason at all) and they randomly leave during the middle of the journey. Alright then. (Since the stories are intertwined, as the blurb says, I guess they’ll be important in other books and more questions will be answered? For the moment, I honestly don’t give a crap. (or negative craps))

I find it really funny that towards the end of the book [spoiler ahead, highlight to see] some wolf appears by Aislynn’s side and no one – NO ONE questions her about it. Not one character. Idk about you guys, but if my daughter came back home after being missing with a wolf in her heels, I would at least ASK about it. [so yeah end spoiler]
Anyway, some random fight scene happens – and BOOM! thus appears the randomest of villians. Like I have no f*ing clue why the person who was the antagonist was the antagonist. What to heck.

There was a lot of mentionings about someone called Josetta, who is the The Wicked Queen, and I really have no idea what she did in the plot of the story.

And even though there was a sadly-built world, the characters were sadly-drawn too. In the beginning Aislynn is all mopey about being corrupt and straying from The Path (literally in the beginning I thought it was some religious cult thing. No – it’s what their society is based on. (I think)). Towards the end, Aislynn may have “grown,” but still has that vain and selfish mentality from the beginning. I swear she stared at her freakin reflection like 5 times throughout the book. PARAGRAPHS were dedicated to that sh*t. You’re not Mulan dude.

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The other characters could’ve been expanded on way more, but the book doesn’t care about them. Brigid and Thackery are Orphans (another concept never expanded on – apparently Josetta captured magical children under her rule and they escaped, thus “Orphans) but the only thing you see about them that shows it are their scars. Do they have any leftover feelings? There was the randomest of scenes where Aislnn is helping them hide an Orphan. All I could think was -“What does this have to do with the story? Lol.” By the time we got to the end of the book I was like:

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I’m being real here, and the book wasn’t!! bad!! It just made me feel – it didn’t make me feel. I just DIDN’T CARE. Not about the plot holes, not about the characters, not about the story. I get that it’s supposed to have other stories and maybe the author is setting the reader up to read those, but I really, really couldn’t care less about the characters (or the plot line halfway in).

Rating: 2

 

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