Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review: A GATHERING OF SHADOWS by V. E. Schwab

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

It’s probably strange that I’m reviewing this book when I didn’t review the first book, but I have stuff to say about A Gathering of Shadows whereas I simply enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic without any further comment. I’ve been so hyped to read this series; I had heard nothing but amazing things about it and about Victoria Schwab’s writing style (plus these cover designs are absolutely some of my favorite covers ever), so I was immensely excited to finally read it.

The first book was really good; I liked the plot and the characters and the world. But in the sequel, I expected a bit more. I liked this book. But I didn’t love it. I wanted to love it, but I think the nature of listening to the story on audio leaves something to be desired, plus I’m certain I missed various details along the way. I’m pretty sure that whenever I physically reread this series (because I certainly will at some point), the story will be more vivid in my mind and I will be able to enjoy it more than I did now.

I wanted more world development in this book. I wanted to know more about the differences between the Londons, between the politics and cultures of the worlds. Does life go on the same in each London or does the magic have a bigger influence than we know? I was hoping the story would extend beyond London, as well. Is there a black, a white, a red, and a grey dimension of everywhere on the planet or just London? I think my biggest disappointment with this book is that I wanted to know more about the four Londons and what makes them different from each other, which is described only in the basest sense. This story could have been so much grander in scale, but I feel like Schwab sort of missed the potential on crafting it into an epic fantasy. The coolest part of the story, to be honest, was Kell’s coat of multiple coats; I want a coat like that.

The main focus of this story is in developing the characters and explaining what is happening in their lives. There is much less time spent on developing the setting and talking about the magic. I like a lot of descriptions of setting and place, but there really weren’t that many definite scenes painted out for me.

I really wish this book had a map of the world. Especially since Lila is on a ship and traveling around, the characters kept mentioning different locations and I would have liked to know where they were. It would be extra cool to get colored images of the four Londons as well, to see the colorful differences between them, but I clearly want too much out of my books because there are no visual indicators in this book at all. (I know there is a poster map that comes in the trilogy box set, which depicts the four Londons, but it is more for artistic purposes than it is an actual useful map. What I want is a map that I can look at throughout the story to follow the characters’ journey along with them.)

This book didn’t go at all where I expected it would go. I don’t even know anymore what I expected, but pirates and a royal competition were definitely not on that list. I’m kind of impartial to pirates so I didn’t exactly love those parts, but I didn’t dislike them either. And as for the competition plotline, I felt like it didn’t really further the story but was just thrown in there for something interesting to have the characters do. (I’ve actually grown really tired of stories that revolve around competitions as the main event in the story, and hearing that’s what this book was about made me roll my eyes a little.)

I wanted to love this book so so much. I still enjoyed it, and I’ll definitely be reading A Conjuring of Light and other books by Schwab, but this series isn’t one of my new favorites yet as I had hoped and thought it would be, which makes me a little sad. For some reason, I have very little success with the most popular books that receive all the hype and that everyone seems to love. I keep reading them but they keep falling short for me. I’m really hoping this is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” because of the audiobook, but I won’t know until I do eventually reread this series.

As far as the audiobook narration goes, it was just okay. The narrator for A Darker Shade of Magic was wonderful and did a splendid job. But then they changed narrators for some reason and the narrators for A Gathering of Shadows were less good. The male had a very monotonous voice that I struggled to focus on, and the female was fine but not great.

No comments:

Post a Comment