By Robin Bridges
Published: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 386 pages
St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.
|One and a Half Stars|
Honestly, this book didn't do it for me. I've never really been a fan of books that involve a bajillion different characters. I also didn't know that there were a gazillion different ways to call royalty's attention. This book, mainly the plot and characters, did not pique my interest one bit, and I was quite annoyed with many of the characters.
A book can catch my attention with either the cover art, the summary, the title, a famous author or the style a book is written in. My favorite style is reading a book in 1st person with a conversational, friendly tone. Which, by the way, is why I really, really like Julie Kagawa's works. At a first glance, The Gathering Storm looks pretty good.
Eye-catching Cover art - Check!
Interesting Plot - Check!
Come on, you have to admit, the cover ain't so bad. Compared to other covers, sure, this one might be a little cheesy, but it's not half bad. When reading the summary of the book, I was really drawn to the idea of a Russian princess being a necromancer! I mean, who wouldn't be? It sounded cool.
Unfortunately, when I actually got to reading this book, all I felt was a total let-down. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of YA books including European-historical-politic-mumbo-jumbo-what-not, but if it ties in nicely with the plot, I'll think about it. Gathering Storm tries to tie Russian politics and historical facts so much so that it becomes more like a list of facts rather than a story about a girl. I felt that the author wanted to tell us so much in the first book that she crammed it full of random characters and side plots that just didn't make much sense.
By the end, I was so tired of reading about "-drovich"s and "-drovna"s and duchesses and dukes and princesses and princes and kings and queens and imperial highnesses and majesties and... so much more. There were so many different titles for everyone that I got many, many, many characters confused. It was very confusing and annoying to have to go flip back to the beginning or see when the character was introduced to remember who was who. I know if I dropped this book half way and picked it up a year later, I would be SO lost. I know I'm not a historical fanatic, but there's a point where you need to explain which titles match up with who. A character chart would be nice, or something of the like.
The plot was okay, but Katerina really bugged me. She thinks she's so special, being the princess and wanted by two hunky dudes, but when she finds out she's a necromancer she has a really hard time believing in the supernatural. She's one of THOSE CHARACTERS. The ones who believe in "science" as opposed to "the mumbo jumbo." I know it's a lot to take in, but, seriously. Look honey, if you've raising your dead cat and a bunch of dead soldiers that chase after you screaming "master," obviously there's something going on that even science can't explain. Not only that, but she also decides RUNS AWAY FROM ALL THE DEAD ZOMBIE PEOPLE SHE RAISES.
Honest to God, I tried to tell myself that she'd improve; she'd make the RIGHT decisions. Nope. As the magic eight ball says, "Try Again."
Yup, my sediments exactly. Katerina is a smart, smart girl. One of the top in her class, actually. It's just that she makes stupid, stupid decisions. You know that bad feeling you get when your favorite tv show character makes a really, really, bad decision and you're screaming at the tv at the top of your lungs trying to tell him/her not to do it? Well, that's how I felt throughout this whole book.
As for the romance, it was there. I think. It was kinda hard to see and decipher through all the POLITICKING. I'm pretty sure there was a love triangle, but I'm not sure.
|maybe, just maybe, something is there|
Just maybe, there was romance. Joking aside, the romance was slow and boring. The book was way too long than it should have been. I felt that the book was pumped full of Russian-historical-fact-steroids and Katerina made the stupidest choices ever. I don't think there's a change that I'll be reading the sequel.
So, for all of those who decide to take on the monstrous challenge of reading The Gathering Storm, I wish you good luck, and I truly hope you will enjoy it more than I did.