Title: The Reader
Author: Traci Chee
Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 13, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
One hope for my reading list this year: find new stories (ones that don't sound familiar). The Reader fulfilled this hope when it provided a unique idea with fun characters and a suspenseful plot. While the plot moved more slowly than I anticipated, this was a rich journey full of mystery, and characters that you’d hope to befriend on your own adventure.
Sefia is compassionate and brave, but has genuine emotions and conflicts. Archer is timid but deadly, scared but selfless, and faithful. The pirates are a little like Captain Jack Sparrow (but Captain Reed has a little more charisma)—dangerous but capable of compassion, and obsessed with being known, remembered. The love story surprised and charmed me. Then there is The Book and it’s Library—knowledgeable, but is it all-knowing? The bad guys seemed really bad, then they became people with emotions and questions. I think the Library’s the enemy, but there’s a lot of gray areas.
I loved this book. Traci Chee writes a magically compelling story. It’s my first 5 star rating of the year.
Would I let my teen read this book?
While the premise of the story is based on revenge, it turns into so much more. With no words, reading, or writing: how will you be remembered? Risk-taking? Adventure? Accomplishment? Our characters grapple with identity, loss, friends, and family. I think any fantasy-loving teen would get into this story. I recommend it for everyone 12 and older.
Age recommendation: 12
Language – none
Drugs & Alcohol – none
Sex – There’s a few suggestive comments, and one tender and strong kiss
Violence – There’s some violence. Characters are stabbed, beaten, and shot.
My Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.