Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book review: Switched

Switched
Step into a world where fairytale and fantasy collide and where one girl learns that she's part of a world that she's always been destined to return to. 


Switched by Amanda Hocking (Tor)
Trolls.

I know what you're thinking. Who on earth would want to read a book about a race of fey creatures that have for the most part, been much maligned as being:

a) A race of hideous-looking beings that err on the side of short and;

b) Evil little monsters who won't let you cross a bridge without paying some sort of fee.

I know this because that was my first thought when I first heard of Amanda Hocking's Trylle trilogy and it's what has kept me back from reading it back when I first heard of her series during her self-publishing days.

Having said that, my love of fantasy reads, especially those with a focus on anything fairytale and changeling related, prevailed over my misgivings about the book and had me picking this read up in spite of myself.

And am I'm glad I did, because Amanda takes everything we know about trolls, gives it a complete overhaul and provides us with a book that dismisses any preconceived notions that we've ever had about trolls.

Switched tells the story of 17-year old Wendy Everly.

With one of Wendy's earliest memories being that of her mother accusing her of not being her child and trying to kill her in the process, Wendy has always known that she hasn't quite fit in; that there is something that sets her apart from everyone else in the small town that she's been living in.

With her ability to manipulate and influence people's decisions, it isn't until the brooding newcomer, Finn shows up and reveals that she's a changeling and is part of a race of Trylles (trolls), that she finally begins to understand just how different she really is. 

Add to that the fact that she's next-in-line to inherit the throne in the world she's really from, and Wendy's life takes a whole new and dangerous turn.

For while this new world (a place called Förening) is a place of wonder and enchantment, the dangers inside the community are no less greater than the ones outside of it.

With the help of Finn, who Wendy can't help but be attracted to, she'll have to traverse through a maze of twists and turns and learn to harness her power if she wants to save the ones that she loves.

Switched is definitely a book that surprised me. It's a quick-paced and beautifully written fantasy novel that has a lot of crossover appeal. 

The world Amanda's created is a unique one filled with both beauty and treachery and the characters you meet are characters you're not always sure you can trust - something which speaks very clearly of the fickle nature of fairytale creatures.

Wendy is someone you can't help but relate to. What person hasn't at one time feel as if they didn't belong?

You can't help but sympathise with her - especially given the fact that her "mother" would go through such extreme lengths to try and harm her. 

What makes this such an intriguing read is that the additional characters you meet each have their own, unique background stories.

These stories, or hints at them rather, are set up in such a way that you get the sense that there will be some explosive secrets that will be revealed in the books to come.  And clearly, not everything is at it seems.

The romantic element wasn't a very straightforward one. That there is an attraction between Finn and Wendy is obvious, but there are a few big factors that come in to play and prevent Finn from acting on his feelings. 

Finn himself, is such a contradiction. On the one hand, he is completely aloof towards her. Assigned as some sort of bodyguard, he often puts his duty first, which leaves Wendy feeling hurt and confused.

However, underneath that cool veneer, he cares much more than he lets on; and when he does let his guard down, well, it makes for some of the most swoon-worthy moments in the book.

One of the reasons I love books about anything fairytale related is that often the very nature of the book, settings and the characters are contradictory.

This why I love Switched so much.

On the surface, the book seems to be a light fantasy read, but Amanda is great at setting the kind of tone that speaks of the wispy, whimsy and ever changing nature of the world that she's created.

And at its very heart, is Wendy, who has to adjust and change according to the circumstances surrounding her. It's a book about metamorphosis and it's a book about growing into your skin and becoming comfortable with who you are.

I've had a sneak peak at the next instalment in the trilogy and have to say, I'm very eager to see just where she'll take this series next, especially with the introduction of a character that may either prove to be an enemy or an ally.

Do yourself a favour and pick this book up. It's worth the hype it's been generating.

Disclaimer: An edited version of this review also appears on the Women24 website, a South African Lifestyle website where I work as an online lifestyle journalist and manage our site's Books, Bridal and Community hubs.
                                     

2 comments:

Miss Vain's Paranormal Fantasy said...

Great review!!! Tanya, you make me wanna read this book immediately!!;) Glad you loved this book so much!;)

Thank you for visiting my IMM this week! Have a great week filled with lots of reading!;)

Miss Vain's Paranormal Fantasy said...

Great review!!! Tammy!! I meant Tammy!! Sorry.:(