FAWKES - by Nadine Brandes
Published: July 2018 - Thomas Nelson
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / historical / romance
Triggers/Content Advisory: Nothing.
Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
A retelling of the Guy Fawkes story?! Yes please! I was so psyched to read this book. I've also been following the author on Instagram for a while, and she's lovely. I wanted to like the book because I like her.
But I don't think much of the writing. It's bland and rather amateurish, and could definitely use a few more rounds of editing polish. The dialogue, too, is weak; predictable, peppered with cliches, and too much on-the-nose. The descriptions are also disappointing. The language is never quite suitable, and they're too bizarre to actually work. Examples: "I put on a burst of speed, broke from the crowd, and bowled into the two guards." - "It rose upon its hill like an unslain dragon."
See what I mean? They're slightly... Off. It's like she's using the wrong words to describe what she's describing. And perhaps that's one of the reasons why the setting doesn't ever come alive.
The plot is very weak. It's kinda predictable, and the start of the story is way too rushed. The whole colour magic system takes a while to get a grip on, but that aspect is good. It's very unusual. I also love how not black and white the politics of the plot are and how there's good and bad on either side of the rebellion; it's not all cut and dry. That's realistic.
But my main issue with the plot is how loose it is. The scenes don't tie together properly, and most of them don't seem to tie to the overarching purpose of the story. Incidents happen, but they're random. Thomas, as the protagonist, should be moving the plot in one direction, but he never does. He stumbles along on other people's decisions and choices and knocks into events that are completely coincidental. It is so frustrating.
The characters are walking cliches and they aren't three-dimensional. Thomas' voice as narrator is childish, and he literally has no personality. Other characters like his father or Henry or any other members of the secondary cast are stereotypes and completely flat. They have no personality. Emma, who's the heroine, is the only person I actually like, but even then all the girl power coming from her feels preachy and forced.
Fawkes is a cliche, untidily plotted story with stereotypical, flat characters and boring writing. Its politics are intriguing, but overall the book is a disappointment.