Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Prophecy by Ellen Oh
Series: The Dragon King Chronicles #1
Genre: Fantasy
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Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

"I believe that one person can change the world. Whether he is the Musado or a girl with a tiger spirit. The monks teach that we mortals cannot question fate. But I say that we control destiny by our every action. Our power lies in the choices we make."

I was predisposed to like this book - perhaps even love it. After all, this is one of the few non-western-European fantasies out there. It's even harder to find ones that are, like this, YA.

For the first eighty pages, things were wonderful. I liked the characters, the world, it wasn't following the usual paths. And, seriously, demon hunting!

"I am the first of my kind, but I will not be the last. Half demon and half human. We will be the end of your world."

Then this sentence happened:

She followed the sound and found the white dog bleeding from its chest, a broken arrow caught under its top leg.

To me, that sentence is just clunky. And that describes part of my problem with the book - in fact, pretty much my only problem with the book - the writing style.

Kira was relieved to see Brother Woojin again. He was someone familiar and comfortable. He brought back a sense of balance that she hadn't even known she was missing.

I'm no English major - in fact, Language was one of my worst subjects - but I know what sounds right to me, and these sentences don't. There was nothing before this that indicated that Kira felt anything besides guilt towards the missing Woojin. (Yes, guilt can be an indication of stronger feelings, but there was also no feeling that Kira was 'out of balance.' And there should have been.)

This book wants to tell you the story, not show it to you. Maybe this wouldn't have affected me so much, but the last book I read insisted on keeping me at arms distance and this one wants to do the same.

They traveled southeast, stopping only to rest their horses when the fog became too dense to ride.
Six days later, they glimpsed the glistening peaks of the Diamond Mountains.

So…did they not sleep for six days? What about eating? Must have been a lot of fog to give the horses enough time to rest.

Some of the dead were monks she had sparred with, eaten meals with. They had laughed, sung, and prayed together. But now they were gone. Tears seeped through her tightly shut eyes.

Yet another clear case of telling, not showing. You never got to read about Kira doing any of these things with the monks. They were simply unnamed, faceless statistics so Kira could have yet another 'painful moment' in her past.

Also, a name was mentioned before the character was introduced. How the hell did that sneak past the editor?

There was some good in this story though. I liked the characters. Even though Kira is a little too brash for me (and she was a lot too 'all powerful' for me), I did enjoy her and the supporting cast was nice, too. I especially like Shin Bo Hyun - even though he's just the type that always gets turned into a villain.

Also, although the story was a bit generic, (hello, chosen one) it's not something that really bothers me. Maybe because it isn't 'generic farm boy becoming all powerful hero' - or, maybe it's the fact that I find all this Korean mythology fascinating stuff. And there's also the fact that the prophecy itself was open to several different interpretations and didn't point at only one of the characters and say 'chosen one.'

I am willing to give this book the benefit of the doubt, it is the author's first book - and it shows. Everything but the writing was a lot of fun for me, however I heard that the second book's writing was worse, so I'm not sure what to think about reading any more of the series.