Stolen Songbird | Thoughts
It isn't often I come across a book that flips from the normal complaints I have with the YA genre. Here, we have a *technically* talented writer, able to turn a phrase just fine. We also have a decent Beauty and the Beast-like plot, complete with beautiful prisoner locked amidst monsters who are some of them much more than they appear.
Where is the problem, then? Jenson is a terrible story teller. Nothing about this story flowed well, there were contradictions on every page, and more holes than I care to remember in the plot.
Cecile is captured by trolls, who turn out to not be trolls at all, in the usual sense. I think Jenson is leaning towards them being Fae, and only a few we meet have physical deformities. The rest are—what else—gorgeous and magical.
Cecile certainly takes well to captivity—I did not once feel convinced in her desire to escape. I expected the fact that she is a singer to be important, given the book's title and the emphasis on her ability to sing well...but really the purpose of this talent was to provide a romantic excuse to have Tristan come and watch her in a glass garden. The romance is awkward, springing from cool statements to passionate declarations and back again in one line—which is unfortunate, since this is clearly a book focused on the romance and the fantasy comes second.
I don't want to focus on every issue I had, but will mention my two largest. At one point we learn that in the troll kingdom, women are equal—status is based upon power, not gender. Then, PAGES LATER, we get a condescending comment from Tristan that "wives are duty-bound to go and do what their husbands want." While some might argue he is playing a role, I disagree based on the overwhelming evidence that Jenson contradicts most of her characters' declarations. Next comes when Marc, angered by the fact that she has put Tristan in danger, tries to strike Cecile after finally attempting to escape. Number one, what happened to the kind Marc Jensen had been building up as one of Cecile's only friends, one of the only people she could trust to keep her safe? Number two, what about the GOD DAMN PROMISE he made to never harm her...and the little fact that TROLLS ARE UNABLE TO BREAK THEIR WORD?
I was so annoyed by this point in the book that I didn't even care. Go ahead and hit her, Marc, so we can get the convenient explanation of how you were able to and why she forgives you two pages later.
So, for me it all comes down to—the concept is a good one, and Jensen's ability to write a decent sentence is not in question, but being able to put those sentences into a well-told tale is quite another matter.
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