Let’s discuss Uprooted! Read through my discussion prompts below, then add your thoughts on those or anything else you felt was important to you. If you have written a review please include a link to it, and ask a question for me (or other book club buddies) to answer. And remember to check back to see if people have replied to your comments.

LIVE SHOW!


On Sunday 1st of May I hosted a live discussion with @B00kstorebabe & @Ladybookmad via Youtube/Google Hangouts. You can watch it above!

DISCUSSION:

Is Agnieszka a good role model?

Throughout Uprooted I really enjoyed Agnieszka’s agency and self determination, and I think those qualities make her a really interesting role model that I would be keen for older teens to be exposed to. One of the defining turning points for her as a character is during her ‘naming’:

I took a deep breathe and said, “There’s nothing wrong with the name I already have.”

Her decision to stand up for what felt right for her, and to refuse to be labelled by others gives momentum to her growing self belief, and felt like a powerful moment of leadership to me.

How did you feel about Dragon/Sarkan as a character?

One of my favourite quotes in Uprooted, that I think sums up all the things I liked about the Dragon was:

His name tasted of fire and wings, of curling smoke, of subtlety and strength and the rasping whisper of scales. He eyed me and said stiffly, “Don’t land yourself into a boiling-pot, and as difficult as you may find it, try and present a respectable appearance.”

I really enjoyed the interplay between the Dragon’s generally ‘good’ moral code and his abrasive personality. I thought that Novik presented him well, and didn’t fall into the trap of having him instantly turn out to be the hero of the story who was simply misunderstood and needed a woman’s touch to revive him. He is never the hero of the story as whole, or within it, the hero of Agnieszka’s story. Though he certainly supports her along the way, in the end it is her empathy that solves the riddle of the Wood. He stays true to the earlier elements of his character by leaving (but eventually coming back), and the ending had me grinning like mad because it felt so right.

What was your favourite quote?

Thought there were many beautiful passages, snide comments that made me smile, and charming descriptions, my favourite quote was a reflection on the futility of war. The whole section was heartbreaking to read, and definitely increased my respect for this book, in drawing attention to something that many fantasy stories would simply move past as a sad but necessary means to an end.

“…they all had stories… They weren’t alone in the world, mattering to no one but themselves. It seemed utterly wrong to treat them like pennies in a purse.” 

Do you see Uprooted as a love story?

It’s hard to find a YA or even Adult fantasy novel that doesn’t have some element of a love story, after-all as humans we crave connection is various different ways. But to me Uprooted was more focused on friendship rather than romantic love. Agnieszka’s friendship with Kasia is challenged again and again throughout the novel, and yet it only grows deeper despite the trails they face both apart and together.

If you’re enjoying this discussion don’t forget to join me next month!

May book: Wuthering Heights

Tamsien - Babbling Books
Reader, blogger, photographer with perpetually itchy feet. Host of Babbling Books' Readalongs and curator of a very eclectic Instagram account.

9 Comments

    1. Thanks for sharing your review Christina! I’d forgotten about this quote until you mentioned it: “If you don’t want a man dead, don’t bludgeon him over the head repeatedly.” – Oh how Sarkan’s dry, sarcastic humour made me laugh!

      I think it will be really interesting to see how everyone feels about the Agnieszka/Sarakan relatioship dynamic, because I feel like it is really going to divide people on this book!

      1. I ammended my blog post slightly about the Dragon to include: I think one little line like, “I’ve been an insufferable beast” would have worked. (haha) Like a Mr. Darcy situation. Because I did enjoy his dry humor.

  1. Hi hi hi! Okay, I officially finished this book this morning and I found myself, quite frustratingly, disappointed. The writing certainly started out lovely and the story intriguing, but it lost me about 3/4 through and I think a lot towards the end was unnecessary and could have been edited out. Her style is very flowery, which I found beautiful to a certain extent, but then I noticed how often she uses the the word “like” in her descriptions and it began to aggravate me. It turned into sort of a twistef game in which i would count the number of “like” descriptions on every two pages. I do think this book is an example of over-description. She put so much detail in that I actually found it difficult to visualize things as I went through. That is honestly one of my biggest pet peeves and I was saddened when I saw the book go from beautiful to overdone. I did enjoy very much the premise of the story and our heroine. I liked the overall plot, I just wish it had been trimmed down a little. It seems I have fallen prey to the bookstagram hype once again. 3/5 stars for me. I’m sorry to be the Negative Nancy of the group 🙈

  2. I haven’t loved a book like this for a long time, so much so that I binge read most of it in two days, and decided I wanted to leave it til nearer the end of the month to finish so it would be fresh in my mind to write something here! It was sat on my bedside table asking to be read until this week and I devoured the rest of it in another two days. The book has this enchanting, fairy-tale feel that’s almost familiar, like you’ve read it before, and that the “villain” as such was the Wood was in equal parts charming and terrifying…!

    I particularly enjoyed the way that Novik created the magic, particularly Agnieszka’s wilder magic, and feel like she succeeded in depicting it as a power from within, made from feeling, memory, song and patterns. Too often, magic in fantasy novels like this is just a power, an innate thing that’s conjured by its wielder at will, so for me some of my favourite parts were when Agnieszka was desperately throwing water out the window and trying to make it into rain, or when she pulls lightning from the clouds, which somehow makes the magic almost feel achievable (which is when you know a book has sucked you in, haha).

    *Is Agnieszka a good role model?*
    Like you, I loved Agnieszka’s determination throughout the book – she has an admirable sense of self that stays true throughout the book that I think makes her quite an interesting role model.

    Her development is really well constructed, in that she doesn’t fall into the same trap as a lot of YA-fiction-fantasy-females, of starting out quirky and stubborn and developing into a shining beautiful heroine. Instead, she is guided by her moral compass, and early on describes how she doesn’t initially draw on her own bravery but on what she thinks Kasia would do, until the bravery becomes her own as the story moves on. She makes mistakes and openly admits to them, which I think is a fantastic thing to read.

    I love the part you mentioned about her keeping her name, and seeing her as a powerful leader. When she meets the young girl at the edge of the forest and tells her to come and find her in a few years, you really get the sense that she’ll be a good teacher.

    *How did you feel about Dragon/Sarkan as a character?*
    I definitely fell a little bit in love with Sarkan (as I do with almost every sullen male character I come across…). I completely agree that Novik completely did him justice by not making him so much of a Beauty-and-the-Beast hero, and instead comes across more like a hard rock standing firm for hundreds of years until someone comes and starts taking tiny chips at him.

    His and Agnieszka’s interactions were some of the novel’s highlights for me, especially as she began to stop taking his quips at face value and better understand him, and bite back. I liked his uptight and unforgiving nature, and the contrast of his textbook magic compared to Agnieszka’s wild magic. When he showed up at the end I majorly flipped out (with joy!), particularly as he showed up disgruntled and looking like the shiniest gem in the shop.

    *What was your favourite quote?*
    Novik’s writing style is beautiful and while I can understand it might be frustrating for some, I found it enchanting and comforting in a way. The way she describes speech is really interesting, often about the feel and taste of words, or likening a voice to a completely different sound altogether.

    My favourite quote though was “What is there besides people that’s worth holding on to?” which for me perfectly sums up what I interpreted the book to be about 🙂

    *Do you see Uprooted as a love story?*
    I didn’t see it as a love story, but more as a story about love. Agnieszka is driven by her love for Kasia, her home, the valley and all the people in it, which is refreshing for a female heroine.

    Her relationship with The Dragon/Sarkan I didn’t feel so much to be a romance, as much as it was two pieces of a puzzle coming together and comfortably fitting. One of the highlights for me was the description of Sarkan trying to clean his hands after they put the Wood Queen to final rest, “mostly just spreading the dirt around” before he finally gives up and the two of them sit under the tree together – there are no grand gestures of love between them (not even after that hot-under-the-collar chapter), just a sense of them comfortably entwining their lives. This gives other important relationships their much deserved time to be centre stage, like the friendship with Kasia, Marek’s love for his mother even in his last moments, and the Wood Queen’s love for her sister.

    Finally, thank you for prompting me to read this as soon as I did! Like I said on instagram, I had my eye on this for a while but just never got round to picking it up, thinking it was a light fluffy fairy-tale read when in reality it turned out to be something much darker in quite a few places, and it’ll sit with some of my favourites on the bookshelf from tomorrow onward 🙂 🙂 🙂

    https://www.instagram.com/instakaaattt

  3. I enjoyed Uprooted but I too thought it was a bit drawn out. I was really into it in the beginning. It reminded me of a cross between ‘The Lottery’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and it was nicely written but honestly I guess I wasn’t in the right ‘mood’ for the remainder of the book as I didn’t enjoy it as much. The transformation of Agnieszka was probably my favorite part as I like coming of age stories where the young girl transforms into a strong and powerful woman. I’ll definitely be watching the live show tomorrow as I’m sure everyone else’s insites will provide me with a greater appreciation of the novel as it often does. I also never read the genre of fantasy so that was new for me as well. I gave the book 3 stars.

  4. I read this when it came out last year and I really enjoyed it. I gave it 5 stars (on reflection I would change it to 4 stars). I can remember really liking the fairy tale element and, like in the above comments, The Lottery type feel of choosing a girl. I thought the growth of Agnieszka was the best part of the book and how she was her own hero and ultimately made her own choices and didn’t need anyone else (but it was nice she had help lol). Sarkan I thought was wonderful. The ending was perfect. No overly embarrassing gestures of love between them. It felt like a good relationship and like they were equals. I must admit though that I was expecting him to be able to turn into a dragon…too many paranormal books read in my youth I think! I was ultimately glad he was what he was though and Novik stayed away from that cliche. I felt so sorry for the Wood and thought the ending was really interesting and what it should be.

    Looking forward to the live show!

    (@bookishsteph1)

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