Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere, #2) - Melina Marchetta
Genre: Fantasy 
Publisher: Candlewick 
Source: ALA Midwinter 
(note: the reviewer is way more enthusiastic than I am in in this post, and while I do not agree at all with her opinion of the novel or its 'educational value' and 'characters as role models,' I do agree that her content assessments are accurate)

This review is written to be a continuation of the previous post, which was a review of Finnikin of the Rock, the previous novel in this series. I wasn't even going to post this "review" on my site, because I don't usually take the tone that I'm about to take, but I do want to go on the record and not beat around the bush about my feelings...

Admission: I only read the first 100 or so pages when I wrote this review. That is all I needed to read in order to fully decide how I felt about this particular installment, given that I already trudged through the first book, and Froi of the Exiles is nothing but the second verse of the same old song. 
I don't think I will ever finish this, and it's because I don't want to join the ranks of all the other delusional readers out there who think that characters like this are okay. Maybe I just have a problem with this book existing. After all, the "beloved" main character is a guy who tried to force himself on someone in the first book. How dare we try and tell teenagers that that behavior is acceptable, or even redeemable. I want no part of it. I don't have to answer for anyone's behavior but my own, and I don't want to be "enlightened" enough to ever think that these characters - most of whom are absolutely scum-of-the-earth disgusting, are good or heroic. It's too bad that this is what fantasy has become - there's no goodness, integrity, or decency anymore. All characters are soot-stained and all feed into this concept of moral relativism that our society just loves to perpetuate. Literature ought to build us up and inspire us to be better than what we are, not remind us all how flawed and mediocre we all are.

And as weird as it sounds, considering that Jellicoe Road WAS the closest thing to a favorite novel that I have, I will not likely be picking up any more of Melina Marchetta's books. As I said in my Finnikin review, I just don't have any energy to spend on any more characters either as 1. seriously broken or 2. morally ambiguous as she likes to write. It's my perception that there's this feeling among YA readers that if a book isn't seriously complicated or morally ambiguous, it's not worth reading. As far as literature goes, it makes me wish that I could go back in time and read The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Prydain and the Redwall books again for the first time, because they have yet to be matched by anything modern literature has produced. As skilled a writer as Marchetta is (and she definitely has a way with words), her characters Finnikin and Froi are utterly laughable when placed next to such others as Aragorn, Faramir, Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper, and a host of swashbuckling, sword-wielding mice. That's my disappointment with Marchetta's novels: the characters she creates. Forget Froi. Give me more Reepicheep. And as popular as this modern fantasy series is, it'll never outsell the Lord of the Rings series. Ever.

Anyway...what else can I say? I like my fantasy stories more in the tradition of Tolkien, Lewis and Alexander. I like my characters to have integrity and act with honor, and therefore I guess this is where Marchetta and I part ways. 

In short, I do not recommend the Lumatere Chronicles to anyone but adult fantasy buffs. I would never, ever suggest these books to young adults - I'd be concerned that it would look like I was condoning or dismissing the behavior of the "heroes" in this series.
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