Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Review: Scrap by Emory Sharplin


Author: Emory Sharplin

Purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Synopsis: On the brutal streets of Hellip, a village in the vast empire of the cruel King Ibis, you either become good at running from the king’s Blackcoats or you die. This is the lesson that twelve-year-old Tucker Scrap, abandoned as an infant among the orphans of Hellip, learned early. Along with her friends Ash and Kally, Tucker spends her time keeping one step ahead of the unjust laws, stealing what she needs to survive, and pondering her own unknown origins—and those of the enchanted bracelet with which she was found.

Now, both Ash and Kally have vanished from the orphanage, perhaps headed for the faraway city where Ibis still rules. When a mysterious girl named Vivian arrives in Hellip with a strange invitation to Tucker, the leader of the orphans decides that this may be her opportunity to find her missing friends. But more than this: it may become an opportunity to recover her hidden inheritance, and to change the fate of an entire kingdom.

The introduction to a fantasy world rich with ancient magic, enigmatic gypsies, palace labyrinths, and deep woods haunted by strange and forbidding creatures, Emory Sharplin’s debut novel tells the story of Tucker Scrap: a bold, memorable heroine at the center of a centuries-old mystery, stepping into her destiny at last.

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz
Warning: There will be ranting, sarcasm, and most likely spoilers.

Review: I’m not exactly sure where to start with how I feel and what I think about this book. I had such high hopes for Scrap when I finished reading the Prologue. I had thought, “Yes! This will be an awesome read,” but that excitement and enthusiasm faltered as I got through chapter one and dissipated as I got through chapter two. I only got a third way through the book before I decided I’ve had enough.

Tucker Scrap is an orphan living in Hellip, a poor town in a kingdom run by an evil, dangerous king who has thus far sentenced every wife he’s ever had (seven in total) to being beheaded for only ever bearing him girls. Tucker has grown up on the streets and does her best to provide what she can for the rest of the orphans who live in the orphanage with her. She has a magical anklet that gives her the ability to outrun horses and the guards but has no idea where it came from. One day a grand duchess named Vivian shows up and claims Tucker is the long lost daughter of the arch duchess. Vivian takes Tucker away to a new life full of glitz and glamour and beauty. But underneath the beautiful gowns and lavish lunches, there are dark secrets. Tucker soon discovers the real truth behind her heritage and sets out on a mission to depose of the evil king. Joining the rebels who are determined to assassinate the king once and for all, Tucker becomes a vital ally for them. But her plans don’t go as she hoped and Tucker and Vivian soon find themselves fighting to stay alive.

Now the plot sounds good. It feels like a story knee deep in intrigue, suspense, secrets, conspiracy, and action but the execution of the book keeps the story from ever really feeling as good as the plot presents. There is so much exposition and so much backstory and telling, there’s no real way to connect to the characters or the plot. It just feels like a long winded journal entry from the main character. The story gets drowned by details that are pointless and serve no real purpose to the story.

I had liked Tucker at the beginning. She seemed tough, sassy and ready for a fight at a moment’s notice. But her character falls apart after chapter one and continues on a downward spiral because the book TELLS so much of what is happening and what Tucker is thinking. Tucker becomes a one-note character. She never seems to portray any real type of emotion and seems to be able to just chuckle or shrug everything off.

The scene that irked me the most was the flashback of the moment where Tucker was almost raped. Tucker was ten years old when she was heading home from the bakery and one of the older boys from the town tried to pay her off to have sex with him. She refused and tried to walk away but he stopped her. When she refused again, he tried to force her to have sex with him. Right there, in the open. Tucker’s reaction as she remembers what almost happened to her when she was ten? To chuckle. She spends two seconds thinking about it and laughs and moves on like it’s no big deal! That was a HORRIBLE way to handle such an IMPORTANT subject matter!! She was so young so to portray the scene as if that wouldn’t have affected her to some degree in her life is insulting to those who have had similar if not worse cases happen to them. If you’re going to put a rape scene of any kind in a book, handle it with the respect and emotional depth it deserves.

There’s also the issue of how old the characters are. Tucker is supposed to be a 12 year old girl yet she’s extremely driven sexually (as far as I could tell from skimming through) and she speaks like a seventeen year old. She’s supposed to be the rebel leader and fall in love with the handsome and loveable gypsy, Napier, but she’s only TWELVE! Her friend Kallie is supposed to be fourteen years old and works as a prostitute. 

Now I can understand that the girls grew up in a hard life and had to find a way to survive but because of the way Tucker talks about Kallie and herself, the young ages attached to their characters made no sense. Tucker never behaves or speaks like a twelve-year-old. 

The world building and language is set to mimic medieval times with an elaborate set up of nobles, soldiers, lavish parties and a kingdom broken down by societal rankings, but the dialogue sometimes didn’t fit. The world building was done really well but sometimes it just became TOO MUCH. The only character that seemed to have any real personality and evolution was Napier while the rest of the characters read very flat. The plot was built from a good concept but it often read as flat as the characters, so there was no way to connect with what was happening or care about it.

Somewhere in this book was potential. The writing isn’t half-bad and the world building had some great moments, but that’s not enough to stick with it let alone recommend it to anyone.

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