Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Release Date: June 1, 2010
Publisher: Egmont USA
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook
My Shelf: Own (Paperback)
When Wayland North brings rain to a region that's been dry for over ten years, he's promised anything he'd like as a reward. He chooses the village elder's daughter, sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, who is a skilled weaver and has an unusual knack for repairing his magical cloaks. Though Sydelle has dreamt of escaping her home, she's hurt that her parents relinquish her so freely and finds herself awed and afraid of the slightly ragtag wizard who is unlike any of the men of magic in the tales she's heard. Still, she is drawn to this mysterious man who is fiercely protective of her and so reluctant to share his own past.

The pair rushes toward the capital, intent to stop an imminent war, pursued by Reuel Dorwan (a dark wizard who has taken a keen interest in Sydelle) and plagued by unusually wild weather. But the sudden earthquakes and freak snowstorms may not be a coincidence. As Sydelle discovers North's dark secret and the reason for his interest in her and learns to master her own mysterious power, it becomes increasingly clear that the fate of the kingdom rests in her fingertips. She will either be a savior, weaving together the frayed bonds between Saldorra and Auster, or the disastrous force that destroys both kingdoms forever.

Here are three words to sum up my feelings on this book: I loved it! The writing was simplistic and beautiful, the world and its magical elements were exquisitely crafted, and the characters were well developed and likeable. This book is packed full of adventure, magic, and even some romance. It has certainly been awhile since I got this engaged in a story, and I really did not want it to end.

My favorite thing about this book has to be the characters. I respected and liked Syd and completely fell for the (magical) charms of North. Sydelle, or Syd, is one of the best female MC I have come across, and I appreciated how steadfast, willful, and intelligent she was. In fact, Syd is the epitome of what I believe is a ‘strong’ female character. When under pressure or faced with a problem, she has a hard time protecting herself when the fight gets physical being slight, so she uses her wit. Syd is smart, and I like how she uses her intelligence to get out of some sticky situations. While girls who love to kick butt, live for insulting men and their manly parts, and sport brass knuckles are awesome, I like seeing a character being able to fall back on their wit. The mind is mightier than the sword! (I may have tweaked the saying a little bit to suit my prerogative…) Regardless, knowledge never fails!

And then there is North. Oh, North, North, North. I have developed a new (or another) literary boy crush in North. Here is a wizard who is both cursed and plagued by the past, has a rather snarky demeanor, can be cowardly at times, and even gets drunk occasionally. He is far from prefect, yet he is kind and protective, and he treats Syd with nothing less than respect. I cannot even begin to express how much I adore him. It is so refreshing to finally have a male lead that is not being referenced to Adonis/some Greek god or having angel-like beauty (*bats eyes* Did it hurt when you fell out of heaven?). North is not infallible, he does not make all women swoon at the sight of him, and Syd has to fight with him constantly to get him to open up. In other words, he resembles what an ‘actual’ guy is like, and I cannot help but love him.

I loved the chemistry and relationship between Syd and North. Their relationship had me giggling randomly, and it left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling at the end. Syd detests the wizard in the beginning for taking her from her family, but as she comes to discover some of his secrets and grows to understand him more, her feelings and view of him changes. They had some rough patches, and there were even moments when Syd was not sure she could trust North, but they overcame them all and started a nice (romantic, but not in a sappy way) relationship. They really care for one another, and I just adored their steadily progressing relationship.

I have to admit, I am at a bit of an impasse. I loved this book, and I think the ending was beyond perfect. Part of me wants a sequel, while the other part of me wants to leave everything as is. There are a few loose ends begging to be tied (such as North’s curse and if a cure was ever discovered), but readers can interpret for themselves what happened. However, even though I have enough information to make my own conclusions, I want more of this magical world and more of North and Syd. What can I say? I guess I am a selfish person! Either way, Brightly Woven now has its own place on my favorites shelf. This is definitely a book you should look into if you have not read it yet. Bracken has another book coming out on December 18, 2012, and it is entitled The Darkest Minds. You can bet I will be reading it when it comes out! 
The Greatest Escape!

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