Back in March, I did a Summary Reactions post about The Queen of the Tearling. As you can see from that post, I wasn't too optimistic about this book.
But still, I decided to give it a chance. (see review below)
I was bored. Bored, bored, bored. Special snowflake protagonist, deus ex machinas abound, unimaginative worldbuilding, flat villains, a great impending doom that turns out not to happen, and preachiness at every corner.
I could go into a full-scale rant, but quite honestly, I feel like I've already invested too much energy in this book.
I will say this, though:
I totally agree that we need more books with un-pretty or even ugly protagonists. But when you feel the need to remind me of how "plain" and unattractive Kelsea is at least six times every chapter, you are no longer telling a story--you're just pushing an agenda.
Oh, and can we stop with the whole "girls who like pretty clothes are all vain, selfish, and stupid" please?
I will also say this: Her guardians are idiots. We are told that Kelsea had a hardcore intense education, and yet she knows almost nothing about her own kingdom. People continuously withhold important information from her, because of reasons. And then she goes and makes stupid, impulsive decisions.
So basically, this is one of those books where an idealist becomes queen and succeeds solely by the virtue (no pun intended) of her idealism (and magic). In the middle of the book, Kelsea makes a huge, impulsive decision that, while very honorable, puts her entire country at risk of war against an enemy that they have no hope of defeating. And then, instead of having to face the terrible consequences of her decision (read: this war doesn't happen, at least not in this book), all of Kelsea's other successes just fall into her lap by magic. Like, she's got these magical sapphires that are basically a couple of deus ex machinas. It's not even magic that she has to work hard to hone and control--it just happens whenever she needs to save the day.
It's not that I'm against idealist heroines, but I don't want to read about the ones who get victory handed to them on a platter. I want to read about the ones who work hard, outsmart their enemies, and occasionally have to make sacrifices in order to succeed.
This book tries to be feminist, but at the end of the day, it's nothing more than wish fulfillment.