I don’t really know how to rate or review this book. I’m afraid I’ll be kicked out of the cool kid’s club* for not absolutely adoring The Queen of Attolia. I’m really upset that I didn’t, because I was expecting to. I had super high expectations. Pretty much everyone I know told me how amazing it is. How you only read the first book in the series to get to this one. But I have to say, I think I like The Thief more. It’s not that I didn’t like The Queen of Attolia. I did. I just didn’t love it, no matter how much I wanted to.
What I did like about it was the world, the characters and the plot overall. But I really didn’t like the frequent, tedious descriptions of politics and war maneuvers and meetings. Yaaawn. I also didn’t like the big “twist” towards the end. The plot point itself isn’t what bothered me, it’s that it wasn’t even alluded to beforehand. It was too much of a surprise and wasn’t plausible to me. Of course I thought the story was heading there eventually, I just didn’t expect it to have already happened behind the scenes (trying to be as clear as possible without being spoilery!). While I admire Turner’s capacity to intricately build a plot and surprise the reader, I don’t like that we end up so removed from the inner workings of the main characters. I read to be immersed in not only a different world but a different person, including their thoughts and feelings. One of my only reviewer friends to have given this book less than five stars, Steph Su, used the analogy that it feels like the characters are acting and talking behind soundproof glass, and this is exactly how I felt. It was as though I couldn’t quite get at the action and emotions. It was quite frustrating. The few times there was raw emotion on display and intimate interaction between the characters, it was stunningly rendered, making it even more frustrating to be cut off for the rest of the book.
I’m glad I had already bought The King of Attolia when I finished this, because I probably wouldn’t have continued with the series otherwise. That’s how disappointed I was. Thankfully I did have The King, so I read it and ended up loving it. It makes me think perhaps I should reread The Queen; I might get get more out of a second reading. As it is I feel like I missed something, because I didn’t love this anywhere near as much as pretty much everyone else.
*Not that I was ever in it.
Spoilery Talking Point
-OK, as I alluded to above, I did think Eugenides and Attolia would fall in love. But after he kidnapped her. I did not expect him to already be in love with her. I could get behind it if the fact that, you know, she CUT OFF HIS HAND, was resolved. I felt like this wasn’t addressed enough, especially Eugenides' feelings about it. Surely he must have been conflicted and thinking twice about his love for her. It would have been good to see how he had managed to come to forgive her – if he did at all. You spend most of the book thinking he hates her, and then all of a sudden you’re supposed to believe he loved her all along? It just didn't make sense to me.