# of Pages: 437
Time it took me to read: 1 week
# of pages a day to finish in a week: 63
Rating: 4 out of 5
An ethereal fantasy, The Reader follows young Sefia, who lives her life on the run along with her aunt Nin, the only family she has left. After Nin is captured by their enemies, Sefia must learn to fight and survive on her own, guided only by a mysterious object left to her by her parents. With the help of Archer, a boy who was kidnapped as a child and trained to be lethal, Sefia learns the power of the written word and hunts for those who have taken her aunt and appear to have the answers that she has always been seeking.
Let me start off by saying that this book was not an instant hit for me. I didn’t start out feeling super attached to our young protagonist, Sefia, and the plot didn’t run away and take me with it right off the bat. But I was determined not to give up on this book, because it did have one thing going for it from page one: it was so pretty.
Now, as I am not one of the “prettiest” writers in the world, I instantly have envy for authors who weave their words together like music and make every sentence truly lyrical. If you like writers like that, too, check out Maggie Stiefvater, one of my YA favorites (her Raven Boys is truly to die for). But I have to say that Traci Chee must have a silver tipped pen, because she does not write like this is her YA debut. So she certainly got full points for style, and for that reason, there was no way I wasn’t going to give this book a full chance.
I think it took the introduction of Archer, the voiceless, destructively loyal boy that Sefia picks up during the desperate search for her aunt, to really spark my interest. Chee does an excellent job of describing the way that Archer and Sefia create a language for themselves, one that involves gestures and facial movement. Because that is what this book is about, after all. Language, in all the shapes and forms that it takes.
One of my favorite books growing up was Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart. I think almost everyone who is a vicarious reader cannot help but love Inkheart because it’s one of those meta books, you know? Like it’s about characters who are readers, it’s about telling stories, and bringing words to life in a way that we in the real world can only dream of. Any fans of Inkheart should certainly pick up The Reader, because it has that exact same meta feel to it. In Chee’s world of Kelanna, the written word has immense power, and only a select few are trusted with the secret knowledge of how to read and write.
By the end of this book, I was very disappointed to have to put it down. I fell in love with the unique, vibrant world of Kelanna, and Chee’s wacky cast of characters really grew on me. It took about half way through before the plot started to really move, for me at least, but in the end I think that Chee makes up for it with incredible attention to character growth and world detail. I certainly can’t wait for book two, and in the mean time I hope I can convince you to pick up The Reader, Book One of Sea of Ink and Gold.
If you like The Reader, try: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo