Reading is magic. If you’re a reader, you know this. Likely, if you’re reading this blog, you think that. In The Reader, it’s actually true. A slow burn of a YA fantasy, The Reader is probably one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It’s suspenseful at times, beautiful at others. The language is language to savor. The characters are interesting in unexpected ways, and as I said, words are magic in Sefia’s world.
The Reader is set in a world where the knowledge of books and written words is no longer widespread. In fact, if people ever see words, then they have no clue what they are. Sefia, the mostly main character, has been a girl on the run for most of her life. Her parents are dead, and she took a rectangular object from their house and ran with her Aunt Nin, an expert thief, as soon as her father was murdered. She has no idea what the object is, just that it’s important. When Nin is also taken by people searching for the object, she is forced to flee on her own, and discovers that with some long forgotten memories, she can decipher what’s written on the pages, which start with This is a book. Reading gives Sefia the magic and power she needs to track down those who stole her family from her, and along the way, she picks up a mysterious sidekick, reads wonderful stories, and falls in with pirates. Yes, there are also pirates. What more could one love about this book?!?
Along with Sefia’s story, and stories from the book inserted into the text, we are also given stories about others, which interlock with Sefia’s in surprising and mysterious ways. There’s Captain Reed, a world-famous pirate. There’s Lon, mysteriously tied to the Library, which is also linked to the Book. As you read through the stories, you’re left to decipher how they will all potentially connect. Each “answer” seems to lead to more questions. While the stories all move a bit slowly, I enjoyed the pace. I felt like I was unwrapping a really good gift really slowly. By the end of the book, not everything is resolved, there are still questions, and there’s an amazing set-up that tells me the rest of the series will be similarly layered, nuanced, and entrancing.
Overall, I really loved this book, if you couldn’t tell. There’s magic, and pirates, and a very interesting world to get lost in. There are characters that are more nuanced than they appear, multiple stories which transfix you as a reader, and a beauty that is seldom found in literature. There’s also violence and grief and hopelessness and hope. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and see where it all leads, but I also know I’ll very much enjoy the journey of getting there.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Have you read The Reader? Do you want to? Let me know below!!