Review of The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Rating: 3.5/5

Recommend: Probably


The Waking Land tells the story of Elanna, a young woman who is taken from her family at a young age and held hostage in an enemy country. There are so many great things about this book: an interesting magic, plenty of strong and developed characters, a rich history…the list goes on and on. And for the most part, I really enjoyed all of it. But there were a few parts that didn’t quite mesh with me, so I felt like I couldn’t give it a full 4 or 5 star rating. As much as I liked parts of it, I just didn’t love it.

That beginning was fantastic. Right from the prologue I was completely drawn in. I couldn’t wait to learn more. Then the story got going and I started to lose a bit of interest. Things just began to seem a little too clichĂ© and stereotypical of young adult fantasy. I love many of the young adult tropes, but sometimes they just don’t work well. Towards the end I warmed back up though and began to really enjoy myself. In the end, even though I felt like the last few chapters were kind of rushed, I was left feeling pretty good about what I’d read. I definitely needed more closure and explanation at the end though.

As you all know, characters are the biggest thing for me. No matter how interesting a world is, if there aren’t equally interesting characters, it’s really hard to stay engaged. And I think that for the most part, the characters in this book were pretty solid. I would have liked a little more back story for a few of them, but overall I was satisfied. Elanna was especially good in my opinion. So despite some of my misgivings about the plot, I feel like the characters often saved the book for me.

So basically, this was a good book. Not great, but good. There were a fair amount of common tropes, which kind of worked, although sometimes got on my nerves. And sometimes I feel like the plot didn’t quite work. But, overall, I’m glad I read this book. There were some truly good parts that made me smile and tugged on my heartstrings. So would I recommend it? Probably, if you know you like young adult fantasy and are okay with a relatively stereotypical plot. It’s worth checking out for yourself.

Thank you to NetGalley and Del Rey for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review!


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